A Buzzworthy New Start-Up
Studies show that 1 in every 3 bites of food consumed in the US is a product of pollination. Unfortunately, beekeepers in the United States have lost about 44% of their bee colonies since 2015.
A trio of high school students from DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis recently launched an innovative app. It tracks wild bees and other pollinators. Their app makes learning and being an environmental advocate a little more fun.
The idea for the app was inspired by the youth program Technovation. As a result, Gabrielle Hill, Christine Ohensuwa, and Meryt Watkins-Wright joined forces. They were excited to learn more about computer science. As well as how to use it to solve environmental issues. “We wanted to work together to create something to make the world a better place,” explained Gabrielle.
All three girls were concerned about the bee crisis in Minnesota. The more they dug into the problem, they realized that a data collection app might be a part of the solution. When they spoke to representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Pollinate Minnesota. They quickly discovered current methods were inefficient. “There may be, at the most, eight researchers doing [data collection], but if we could get mass amounts of data that is accurate, that could help scientists solve the problem,” Gabrielle stated.
Eco-Friendly and Fun App
The CurlyGirlz created a bee/pollinator documentation app. It tracks bee population trends. It identifies areas where education/advocacy strategies are needed to protect pollinators. The idea was simple. Develop an app that allows the average citizen to document various pollinators. Through innovation and coding, the Pocket Pollinator emerged.
Their app engages the user in a unique gaming experience. Gabrielle explains, “the user transforms into a citizen-scientist on a quest to go find bees.” Users can snap a photo of the pollinators on a stroll, or a bike ride to work. Users can upgrade avatars with the more pollinators they track.
Blossoming Future for Upstart
Despite being in High School, the girls designed the business with flexibility in mind. Gabrielle acknowledges that “our app is not the be-all, to solve the bee crisis, but we are getting information for scientists.” The app is able to modify and enhance the data users collect. Meeting the needs of bee experts. Eventually, they hope to track bee trends nationwide. Their next challenge has been in learning how to gain users and revenue.
“We created a lifestyle app. It’s also a lot more work than people think it is. We are getting into a new kind of business and a new kind of entrepreneur. A lot of it is advertising and making people use your app,” states Gabrielle. CurlyGirlz entered the Youth Division at the MN Entrepreneurial start-up competition. Advancing to the semifinals, they received some seed money. They are already planning to invest it back in the business. Whether or not they win the competition, their future is blossoming with possibilities.