What I cannot forget about my experience at Ignite Innovation Lab

I came across the advert for the Ignite Innovation lab earlier in July on the dayoadetiloye business hub website. What attracted me was the ‘digital skills.’ Remembering my first experience with Google Digital Skills in Digital marketing back in 2018, I had been eager for similar opportunities; that must, of course, be free (due to my financial state).

I submitted my application, on the 16th day of July 2020, which included an online form to fill and submission of CV and profile picture. Later on, I was excited to see a mail congratulating me on my selection to the programme which was to kick-off fully July 27th

Before participating in the innovation challenge, we had to go through a set of primers on digital skills lessons which equipped us with the skills and tools each team eventually used during collaboration on the challenge. This included the use of Google G-Suite applications: Google doc, Google sheets and Google slides.

To complement the Digital Skills Primer for Ignite Innovation Lab, a virtual orientation session was conducted on August 1st via zoom. This form of cordial communication carried everyone along and kept us all at pace. Part of the digital sessions include practical teachings on how to plan your online business strategy; Taking a business online, understanding customer behavior, how to stand out from the competition, and using goals to improve business performance

Going through the Google Digital skill lessons before the innovation challenge gave us the opportunity to learn and get used to the tools beforehand. Other modules covered in the Primers include Managing a Project with Digital Tools, Business Plan Writing, Organizing Files in Drive and Digital Marketing Primer. The sessions were delivered to details, with the use of notes as documents, attachment of video links and additional resources to further expatiate each topic.

For the innovation challenge proper, we were organized into teams; about 40 teams in total with 4 or 5 people in each. A mentor was attached to each team. I was appointed the team leader of Team 24. My team’s mentor was Mr. Francis Omorojie, of Ennovate Hub, Dar em salam, Tanzania. His knowledge, experience and advices proved priceless in the course of our meetings with him.

In our teams, we had to complete tasks and challenge-phases after which we proceed to the next phase on the predetermined date. The phases included Empathy, Problem Framing, Ideate, Prototype, Testing and Evaluation.

My Team, which we named ‘ennovators,’ consisted of five bright minds that we worked together: Timothy Aderogba (Team Lead), Daniel Omakpriola, Deborah Ayoola, Sam Greg and Diana Atieno. We chose a common theme to solve the energy crises and we chose the tagline “…lightening up Africa”

As the team lead, I had to mobilise the team members to meetings which we had often on Zoom, and more frequent chat on a WhatsApp Group I created. I mobilized we segregate the team into three sub-groups to make delegation of duties more effective. We had the Marketing/Business subgroup handled by Daniel and Samuel, the Technical/Prototype subgroup – Diana and Timothy while Deborah was delegated to the Social Impacts. Though, due to busyness, network issues, and personal issues on the part of the team members, not everyone carried along at the same pace, the more consistent member had to bear the more burdens. I appreciate Daniel for being our starring man in this.

The final pitch came up on Saturday, 22nd August. The teams that qualified – having gone through the phases and submitted for their final pitch – were notified of the schedule and requirements. The Judging criteria included clarity of problem definition, solution being proffered, scalability and Social impacts with respect to the Sustainability Development Goals. Pitch time was just 2mins while Q&A session was another 2mins. So, with the short time, we did not have the luxury of time to present it all – it had to be like an elevator pitch. My team had to reorganize our slides and pitch overnight in order to be better prepared.

After the whole pitch, Team 6 emerged the overall winner with laptops for each member as prizes. The second and third team also had prizes; and other prizes for best male presenter, best female presenter and audience choices based on vote.

My team had some connection issues during our presentation. The slides were not displaying from my ends and I lost connection at that dine minute, so my teammate – Daniel had to pitch on our behalf without the slides. Our pitch was titled “Design and Operation of Solar Concentrated Tower Plant in Nigeria.” Personally, this topic spurred my strong-will to further my Graduate School Research in Energy Technology. Even though we weren’t able to clinch any award, it was indeed a worthwhile experience – all held virtually but yet intensifying and exciting as if we were all in one room.

Thanks to Cynthia Mene, the CEO and co-Founder of Inspire Africa; Sarah Stokes, the Program Manager; Semmwa Madaki and Mr. Blessing who all contributed to impacting the lives of young people across the continent with their passion and dedication. Ignite Innovation Lab (IGL) has been an effective online incubator for startups and entrepreneurs.

Looking back at the event, one of my most exciting memories was the networking and collaboration I made with talented young people from diverse locations and varying backgrounds; across Africa. The Ignite Innovation Lab 2020 had gone but the networks built and the knowledge gained remains still. I would have easily assumed that I knew quite much about Google tools and digital skills until I got started with the courses at Ignite 2020 – there was so much to garner and I’m so glad I did.

Dear fellow youth, when next you see the advert for the upcoming season of Ignite Innovation Lab, do not delay to apply. My best wishes!

#weinspireafrica

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