Girls in Tech: how Ellora made her idea a reality

Ellora is a creator of Envirocache, which she designed with her team during the Apps for Good course at Wick High School in Scotland. Since the course, Ellora has been working hard to transform her app idea into a reality. Ellora is a finalist for the 2017 FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards. Below, Ellora explains how she gained the confidence to pursue her idea.

I used to think I was going to be a veterinarian

I’ve always had an interest in technology, but computing was never a subject in primary school so I never had the opportunity to pursue it further. We had computing in the first three years of high school, and while I enjoyed it – it was never something I thought of pursuing as a career.

Ellora working on the Envirocache website.

When I started the Apps for Good course at school and started doing some proper coding on the Raspberry Pi, I started to realise that I actually really enjoyed coding. That’s when I started to think maybe coding is something I enjoy more than what I wanted to do previously, I always thought I was going to be a vet. When I found out how much I enjoyed coding I thought to myself “hang on a minute, I could do this instead.”

Learning more and tackling new challenges

Right now I’m studying higher computing, where I’m learning Python and PHP. My next step is to start looking more at the electronic side of things, rather than software. I just finished making another Raspberry Pi alarm clock, and my teacher gave me an Arduino starter kit. I definitely want to study computing at university. I don’t know what I’ll end up doing yet because there’s so much and right now I like everything.

Envrocache: going from idea to reality

Ever since I saw the names of successful Apps for Good entrants in our local newspaper, I wanted to take part in the course. Our team spent months searching for an amazing idea before settling on our app idea. We didn’t make it to the competition, but that was not the end.

When I first decided to continue with the app, I spoke to quite a few people and ended up in contact with Trudy Morris from Caithness Chamber of Commerce. She helped us with our business plan, put us in touch with the right people, and helped us to work out all of the business things that we wouldn’t have had a clue about by ourselves.

We just got the contract through for Envirocache. We’re partnering with a Scottish University, and we’ll be starting app development really soon. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time, so I’m super excited.

Gaining inspiration from others like me

In 2015 my teacher helped me apply for Outbox Incubator, which he found out about through The Fellowship. I was selected to attend, and I spent two weeks working on Envirocache. I come from a very rural area, and it was amazing to meet so many girls just like me. It was inspiring to see girls who were just a little bit older and who were able to go out and do so much. Once you see what they’ve done you start to think ‘that could be me.’ After Outbox Incubator, I decided that I definitely wanted to continue with Envirocache.

I’m always trying to show others what’s possible

Ellora (second from left) speaking on a panel at the 2016 Apps for Good Awards.

I’d love to be a role model for others. That’s part of the reason for setting up my blog. I’m getting all of these cool tech opportunities: I did work experience at Thomson Reuters, attended Outbox Incubator and Raspberry Pi Day, spoke at BETT and I get to go to Apps for Good events. Plus, I’m always trying to put myself out there and show with Envirocache that it’s possible to make your ideas happen. If I can show even one other young person that things like that are possible, I would have achieved the whole point of writing the blog.

Recently a younger Fellow asked me about Outbox Incubator, I loved it because it meant she read my blog. When she said she wanted to apply, I thought that was great. I loved sharing my experience and encouraging her to have the confidence to do it herself.

Getting young people into tech

My teacher Mr. Aitken has been the one to organise a lot of the things I’ve done: He enabled me to do Apps for Good in my own time, let me borrow a Raspberry Pi to take home, nominated me for the Outbox Incubator, and helped organise my work experience at Thomson Reuters. All of these opportunities have genuinely made me the person I am today because they’ve helped build my confidence. It’s very important to have someone who will help you apply for things, and give you that confidence and encouragement.

I think more young people need to access opportunities because the more you do the more you believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself, you allow yourself to get involved with more. It has a knock on effect. If more opportunities existed, it would be even more common for young people have great ideas and aspire to do great things with technology.

This case study is part of our Girls in Tech series powered by Comic Relief, where we’re challenging some perceptions about women in the digital sector.