Toowoomba’s star app-rentices

This story was originally published on the Tech Street Journal, found here.

Imagine someone pitching their app idea to a crowd of startup professionals. The entrepreneurs describe a new system of car maintenance, and discuss user interfaces and safety mechanisms. Who do you think of? An early 30s male, possibly in a trim navy-suit? Think again.

Amanda and Courtney Taylor are 14 and 17-year-old sisters from Toowoomba. In October, they pitched a driving app that won them the ‘Most Likely to Progress’ award at the Startup Weekend Women in Brisbane.

Startup Weekend, as regular readers will know, encourages motivated entrepreneurs ‘who are hell-bent on disrupting their industry of choice’ to come together and collaborate over app creation and design. Amanda and Courtney are just that.

The Toowoomba sisters pitched the idea for an app that provides lessons on how to change a tire, check your oil, and reverse parallel-park. The platform, while still in the ideas phase, is called Care 4 My Car.

Amanda, the brains behind the app, thought of the idea while watching her sister learn to drive.

“I see her writing in her logbooks to record all her sessions, and it’s just not the way technology is going anymore,” Amanda said.

Courtney, who’s currently finishing her year 12 studies, agreed that the app would be useful for the today’s tech-savy drivers.

“Most people have a smart phone and this app could notify them about how often they should check their oil and what the air pressure of their tire should be,” Courtney said. “If I had an app that sent me a reminder about doing those things it would make our cars even safer.”

Taylor with their SW Women team, Care 4 My Car. Photos courtesy of Joy Taylor.

Courtney and Amanda Taylor with their Startup Weekend Women team, Care 4 My Car. Photos courtesy of Joy Taylor.

While the idea looked promising, the girls had more work to do. Startup Weekends involve researching, validating, marketing and then pitching a startup idea as a business-model in just 54 hours.

“It was tiring,” Amanda said. “But it was so much fun. I’ve never really been a big talker, so this was a great environment to get involved in.”

It isn’t the first time the tenth grader has been recognised for her ideas in app design. Earlier this year she joined forces with two school friends to pitch Kixfit an app aimed at keeping teenagers healthy.

“Lots of my friends and I sometimes think health is all about having to go for a run everyday because we have to stay thin, and to do that you have to eat no bread, no sugar, no nothing.

“That can be really unhealthy for teenagers, so we wanted to make Kixfit to help teach teenagers about being healthy.

While it may seem almost impossible that a fourteen year old could even have the capacity to develop an app, Amanda and Courtney are in a small group of elite young techno-whizzes. A 17-year-old created the word game ‘4 Snaps’, and ‘Impossible Rush’, a ball game that ranked above Vine, Google, Gmail and Twitter in the 2014 Australian App store, was developed by a 15-year-old.

Courtney believes their success is a sign for the need to bring more teenagers into the world of hacking and programming.

“I think older people definitely have a part to play in creating apps in development, but I think have the younger generation has a key part in the design of those apps and user interface because that’s the demographic that’s going to use those apps.

“Ten years down the track, we’ll be the developers making the apps for the new teenagers.”

While the Taylors have already achieved a great deal, even compared to some established entrepreneurs, their careers have only just begun, and they aim to follow up their Brisbane success at their local Startup Weekend in Toowoomba in November.

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