What’s Realistic?

The Technovation Challenge has started in earnest – it’s time for my team to do market research and choose an app idea to build. The last time I met with them, they started brainstorming, and through facebook messages their idea is starting to take shape. With this process going on, I find myself with a dilemma. The idea the girls are leaning towards now (and I can’t be too specific about it) is a very ambitious idea. It’s an awesome idea, one that I think a lot of people could use. On the other hand, it’s going to be crazy difficult to build.

As their mentor, I want to see them take on a challenging project and struggle and learn, but it’s also part of my role to keep them within the realm of possibility. I have to rein them in, but I don’t want to completely discourage them. At the brainstorming meeting, I gently reminded them that they’ll have a limited time to build their app, and suggested that they choose one aspect of it to build, then create an outline of how the rest of their app could be added to it if they’re awarded the seed money at the end of the competition. They took my advice and are narrowing down their idea, but it’s still going to be a big, big project.

Part of me wonders if I’m being too pessimistic. After all, this is a team of smart girls who are familiar with the software they’ll be using to build the app. Maybe if they think they can do it, they really can. On the other hand, they’re busy kids with lives outside of Technovation, and life can easily get in the way of grand ambitions. Above all, I want to ensure that this ends up being a positive experience for them. I don’t want to see them get so stressed out that they decide programming’s not for them.

I think I need to learn to let go a little. After all, if the girls don’t finish their app and don’t win the competition, they still will have learned a lot from the experience. I’m just an overly-cautious person in general. One reason why I haven’t figured out what I want to do with my life yet is that every time I start to think about it I shoot down all of my own ideas.

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