Bright Side of Business: Sisters interested in STEM make it to Technovation finals

sisters
Sisters Daniella, left, and Biana, right, were the only group from Canada to make it to the Technovation finals. Photo provided
Editor's Note

The Bright Side of Business is presented by Star Motors.

Many of us might remember high school as the easygoing days of our youth, taking each day as it comes.

Not so for Daniella and Bianca Almeida. The two high schoolers — who also happen to be twins — recently made it to the finals of Technovation, the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship competition for girls. Their business is Exer-Time, a gamification app that motivates users out of a sedentary lifestyle. 

The idea for the business first came to Daniella and Bianca during the pandemic when they saw how working from home was impacting their parents — that is to say, no commute and long hours at their desks with few or no breaks.  

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Then, over the summer, Daniella and Bianca took a computer science course at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Engineering Secondary School. In the program, students use technology to solve real-life problems and develop leadership skills. 

It was there that Daniella and Bianca sharpened their plans for Exer-Time. By the time Technovation rolled around, they were ready to hit the ground running. 

Bianca explained that the pair spent a lot of time brainstorming and ideating. They ran surveys throughout their community about the impact that working from home was having on people’s physical health. 

Using a time management method called the Pomodoro technique, Exer-Time “allows (users) to take periodic breaks, go on walks to track their distance, and gives (them) points accordingly to further motivate them,” Bianca says. 

The sisters coded both the front and back-end of Exer-Time. For the design, they chose the colours blue, pink and orange. “In one of the Technovation lessons, we learned about branding, which is what people think of your company,” Daniella says. “Colour is one factor that can influence branding, as each colour is associated with various emotions.” 

During the competition, judges from all over the world deliberated over Exer-Time. “Pitching it live, it was really great to hear the judges’ feedback, to really hear what they had to say and also to share it with more people,” Daniella says. 

Bianca and Daniella
Daniella, left, and Bianca, hard at work developing Exer-Time. Photo provided.

The sisters, who live in Mississauga, were the only group from Canada to make it to the Technovation finals. “We were the top five in our division,” Daniella says. “It was a really great chance to represent Canada.”

Looking ahead, the pair hopes to add more features to the app, including notifications, mental health tips and weather applications, motivating users to go outside even when the weather is less than ideal. They’re considering adding leaderboards to step up the aspect of friendly competition.

“It’s a great way to use our passion to help other people, to make a difference,” Bianca says. “That makes it even more special.” 

Since they were kids, Daniella and Bianca were interested in STEM. They attended events held by the Canadian Association for Girls in Science and by Hackergal, where they are now ambassadors. 

For Bianca, the experience at uOttawa and at Technovation has made her more curious about running a business. “When we’re in school, we learn about the subject, but we don’t really get a chance to apply the knowledge that we have,” she says. 

Her advice for other students? “If you have an idea that you think could help make a difference, don’t be afraid to put it into action,” she says. “You never know who you might be helping through it.” 

Daniella adds that students should take opportunities as they see them. “You need to take advantage and use them to create the change that you wish to see,” she says. 

The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success.

This column is presented by Star Motors, Ottawa’s original Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes Van dealer.

Since 1957, Star Motors has provided its customers with the Mercedes-Benz “The Best or Nothing” standard in vehicle selection, service, genuine parts and certified collision repair.

For your convenience, you may shop, research, chat and compare vehicles online at starmotors.ca, visit the 400 West Hunt Club location or call (613) 737-7827 for the very best in personal service.

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