29th July 2014

GeoVation Opening Doors


Today’s guest blog is from one of our finalists who took part in the recent Active Lifestyle challenge Jackie Roby.

One evening, in the depths of darkest January, I logged on to Facebook to find a message from a friend that read ‘Are you going to do it?’ with a link to the GeoVation Active Lifestyles Challenge. I’d never heard of GeoVation and with the challenge closing in less than a week I thought it was unlikely. At the same time I had an idea that had been floating around in my mind that fitted the challenge criteria well and before I knew it, it was the early hours of the morning and I’d entered the competition.

The week passed and a few days after the deadline I received and email congratulating me on becoming a GeoVation finalist. Oh. My. Goodness. This was happening!

Go WildMy idea to encourage more active lifestyles was ‘Outdoor Discovery Backpacks’, rucksacks stuffed with fun games, ideas and tools to help children and their families explore nature and the great outdoors. I wanted to create a fun and exciting resource that was available from local libraries that, using OS maps, would help families to discover and enjoy their local green spaces.

The GeoVation Camp weekend at the end of February, passed in a complete blur; meeting lots of innovative people with great ideas, learning all sorts of interesting things I’d never heard of such as paper prototyping, hearing from past winners and getting to pick the brains of inspiring people such as Andy Middleton. My teammate Dave and I bounced our way around Ordnance Survey head office, becoming known for our smiles and enthusiasm. I think a bit of delirium crept in too!

Jackie form Go WildDuring the course of the two days the backpacks evolved into Nature Kits that were presented in boxes as, during our plotting and scheming, we realised that it would be hard to store backpacks in a library. We also developed a great elevator pitch (partly at camp, partly in the pub) and finished the weekend with a well-rounded idea.

We didn’t win.

But by this point I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I knew I had a great idea and GeoVation had given me the resources and encouragement to go ahead.

A friend’s mum had asked me on the morning of the final, if I would carry on with the idea if it didn’t win the GeoVation challenge. I told her that it was now the most coherent and well thought through idea I’d ever had and one I would definitely pursue. Seven weeks after the GeoVation Camp, I launched my crowdfunding campaign. The pitch that had evolved during the camp weekend formed the basis of my video script and I leaned heavily on my new-found network of GeoVation associates and alumni.

Throughout the gruelling weeks of my crowdfunding campaign, my GeoVation family tweeted and shared my project. No organisation gave me more input in terms of social media support and my GeoVation network made more pledges than any other. Even now, as the dust is settling, it is the people and connections that I have made through GeoVation that are helping and supporting me to move forward.

I hit my crowdfunding target and am now starting in the next phase of this adventure. Without the encouragement and support of GeoVation it would still be half an idea, floating around in my head.

Visit the Go Wild website for more information