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Day 1 of the 2017 Acorn Aspirations Summer Accelerator took place at Accenture’s Liquid Labs studio in central London. Elena kicked things off by welcoming the 15 teen participants looking to develop their startup ideas and hear inspiring talks from tech entrepreneurs.

The first speaker was Rod Banner, a former advertising executive and tech enthusiast who spoke about tech’s potential to help people find joy. He challenged the teens to think about how they could build startups that enhanced the lives of other young people, helping them to feel less isolated and less stressed.

Next on the agenda was a design thinking workshop led by Andy Ayim and Dave Atkinson, experts in user experience design. They introduced the students to leading thinkers on entrepreneurship and the lean startup methodology such as Eric Ries, Steve Blank, Alex Osterwalder and Ash Maurya. They also explained what design sprints and why they are important: they allow startups to test their ideas in a cost-effective way to avoid building something nobody wants, for example air-conditioned shoes or toeless wellington boots. The teenagers then split into teams and each team came up with an idea for an app before learning how to interview users and develop problem statements. Their final task was to develop personas for their product, including the name, age and gender of the user, the user’s needs and frustrations and ideal experience.

After lunch, it was time for the teenagers to choose the startups they wanted to work on. The mentors evaluated a number of promising ideas before deciding on three:

The day ended with an inspiring talk from Matt Celuszak, CEO of Crowd Emotion, an artificial intelligence company that enables technology to understand human emotion. “If technology is a tool to make our lives better, then it needs to understand us,” he said.

By Tosin Sulaiman

Also published on Medium.

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