After four years showcasing Minnesota’s young tech talent in the Valley, Silicon North Stars founders Mary and Steve Grove are bringing their mission home with the organization’s first Minneapolis demo day.
Each year, Silicon North Stars brings 16 rising ninth graders to the Valley for a week of mentoring, company tours and a product pitch in front of members of the Valley’s tech community.
For the first time since the program’s inception, students will also present these ideas to friends, family and Minnesota techies at a demo day in Minneapolis.
According to the Groves, this demo day is typically a highlight for participants. Students are given one day to brainstorm ideas for a presentation, the theme of which changes every year. This summer, participants were tasked with finding a tech-based solution to immigration-related issues.
Kayla Pollard is one of the 16 students participating this year. When I spoke with Pollard, she and her teammates were halfway through their one-alloted day of research and development.
“We wanted to make something that would get rid of the myth surrounding immigration and get to the truth,” Pollard said.
The group was tossing around several ideas at the time, one of which was Skype-based platform for people planning to move to the United States. Users could use the platform to share experiences, build relationships and meet one another when they arrive in their new country.
Mary and Steve Grove founded the nonprofit organization four years ago, with the goal of providing Minnesota youth from underserved communities with the resources and experiences to pursue careers in technology. Both Mary and Steve have roots in Minnesota, but currently work at Google in San Francisco.
Steve said that he and his wife started the organization to build a bridge between the community they knew in Minnesota, and the one they live in now.
“We want to make sure students know they don’t have to move to the Valley to get an awesome tech job,” Steve said.
After kicking off the program in Minnesota, students are flown to San Francisco to spend a week meeting with local tech leaders and touring companies like Facebook, Uber and Google.
By the end of this summer, 64 students will have completed the Silicon North Stars program since its inception. The first class of students will be seniors in high school this fall, and according to Mary, many remain involved in the organization.
“They’ve all done well throughout high school and we’re excited to see where they land,” Mary said.
Silicon North Star’s Minnesota demo day is scheduled for Thursday, August 3 at COCO’s Downtown location.