BELIEVE IN YOURSELF -- I encountered many obstacles and failures in my journey while building the iAid. I started off as a 12 year old who had no idea how to program. I struggled for over 2 years, teaching myself how to program in multiple languages. I had no close relatives or friends who had worked with coding and technology, so I felt very alone in the learning process. There were hundreds of times when the device failed or potential mentors rejected my requests for help. I viewed these "bumps" as obstacles that I needed to overcome in order to succeed. They were instrumental in iAid's success and helped my confidence blossom in the meantime. I developed the skills to combat rejection and persevere.
KEEP ASKING FOR HELP -- The technology community seemed unwilling to support a young inventor with a big idea. I had to reach out to inventors online, many of whom told me that I wasn't smart enough or too young. Over a year and hundreds of emails later, I found help from inventors in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa. They mentored me in programming and helped me overcome any obstacles that I faced. They were, and still are, a huge part of iAid's success. We need to encourage the public to invest in and support young people and their ideas.
THERE'S A LINK BETWEEN CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION -- Innovation is all about thinking outside of the box. Personally, I drew creativity from my love for visual arts. I became passionate about portraiture at the start of high school; I relished in the challenge of trying to capture someone's life story in a single picture. Art asked me to challenge everything that I knew, forcing me to look at my artwork from different perspectives. These skills that I developed from my artwork allowed me to tackle any problems from many angles and succeed.
GET TESTIMONIALS -- When other people champion your products it legitimizes what you are doing. After I finished my prototype, I partnered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and had a lot of prospective clients use it to navigate through an apartment building without needing to use their hands. As a result of their feedback and testimonials, I was encouraged to keep innovating. My favorite three are:
"Alex is an incredible young innovator. He's got it all. I think that it will be very exciting to see what he does next." - Nancy Lockhart, Director Loblaws Companies
"The genius in [iAid] consists of [Alex] being able to combine technologies, and for people who are visually impaired, this makes a world of difference." - Maurice Bitran, CEO Ontario Science Centre
"I can't wait to use [iAid]. I think that it will improve my life. Definitely, we should encourage this product to be in the market" - Tarek Abderrazik, visually impaired participant in iAid trials
MAKE YOUR PITCH CLEAR + SOMETHING PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND -- below is my submission for the 2014 Google Science Fair. In it I explain not only how the device works, but some of the outcomes for my stakeholders.