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Meet the expert: Olga Kravchenko, co-founder of tech startup Musemio

This week, we spoke to Olga Kravchenko, co-founder of Musemio, about the importance of teaching young people the fundamentals behind starting their own tech start up.

Why is tech education important from the earliest age?

Tech education is vital because kids develop a particular mindset and interests at a young age. It offers children huge creative potential to express themselves and explore the world. Children need to feel that tech is fun and creative – not something they are forced to study at school.

What makes it most effective?

Tech education is most effective when developed with children at its core. Learning products and experiences need to nurture young minds in parallel with their physical development.

Why is AR/VR such a powerful tool to help young people young create/ learn?

These are novel mediums that are now being used widely, with huge growth over last 2 years (there are 170m VR users globally!). VR has been proven to increase a child’s attention span by 92%, while AR communicates something that is old fashioned in a way that is engaging.

Take the museum industry, which typically offers static experiences that young people aren’t engaging with. Something with a digital layer helps them meaningfully connect with the content. Young people today are digital natives, and the educational sphere needs to reflect their needs and desire to learn in a different way.

Why is starting a startup such a powerful way to help young people create and learn?

Starting a startup constantly takes you out of your comfort zone, makes you more resilient for any challenge in your life. My startup Musemio has combined two of my passions – art and technology – and it has been a way for me to express myself creatively, and to develop a growth mindset. I am now far more resilient that when I started!

At Musemio, we run a range of work placements for young people 13 and over. We work with East London Academy of Arts and Music among other colleges to host a number of interns to learn about startups, and train them in agile methodology, product development, the challenges a startup might have, how to make it cost efficient. It’s such a powerful way to learn at a young age!

How is the UK’s current approach to tech education failing young people?

Currently, education system is not personalised – it’s one teacher to many students. This is not helping children discover their potential; instead, they learn facts that quickly become redundant. Children are constantly being pushed to hit metrics (i.e. via exams)! Education should focus far more on emotional intelligence and technology. Unfortunately, the recent government white paper on edtech focused too much on supporting teacher’s workload using tech, rather than technology that can help better educate children.

How can we educate young people to use tech ethically and responsibly?

From a very early age, children must understand the good and bad that tech can do. It’s important we guide them around problematic themes such as online privacy and cyberbullying. But this doesn’t mean we should stop children from using tech – instead, they need a positive, safe relationship with it. It’s important to not remove the human context and interaction from tech.

What young people are doing inspiring things using AR/VR?

We run workshops (similar to Fire Tech) with kids from across UK, including rural area kids. At one of the workshops, with a media school in Manchester, we worked with a boy aged 16, who was already working with Oculus. He has created a unique training programme for people with fear of dogs to overcome their phobia. He could really pinpoint their problems and, using VR, created a highly-effective technical solution to make them feel more comfortable. It was amazing!

Why is Fire Tech’s work in teaching technology and coding to 9 to 17 year olds important?

Reports show girls get disengaged with tech before the age of 12. By being able to produce inspiring interesting content to help people create using tech is vital in making sure the gender gap doesn’t get wider. 

At this age, it’s crucial for young people to discover what they’re interested in; they need to be exposed to all the options. Fire Tech enables them to see how tech works, and try it for themselves, can change their future. This little start to their curiosity can help the magic happen!

What advice would you give to a young person looking to start a tech startup?

Look for a mentor who can help guide you along the way! Choose someone who you’d want to be in five years’ time. And use the first few months to learn how to ask the right questions – the most important skill when running your startup. It can be hard to focus on what’s most important – so choosing where to dedicate your energy really helps move you forward.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to try – you have your entire life in front of you! Even if something doesn’t work straight away, starting something at a young age puts you already ahead of so many people who never had the courage to do that. Go for it – and enjoy the journey!

Begin your entrepreneurial journey by signing up to Fire Tech’s Start Up a Tech Startup course this Summer.