In the summer of 2018/19, Cameron and I decided to join the Victoria Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in the hopes of starting a business together. We decided on the name Qisma Tech. ‘Qisma’ is my (Mohammad) maternal grandmother’s name. The traditional generational transfer of knowledge from my grandmother to my mother and then to my siblings and me, while at the same time adding to that with our own generational knowledge and new learnings of technology is the foundation that we wanted to express within our business, and therefore our business name.
Qisma Tech started as a tool to aid tutors in their professional lives. This gradually changed as we saw a greater need to introduce and prepare young kiwis for the vast and competitive future of technology. Regardless of the change, our primary values that is our foundation never changed; We are an educational establishment determined to improve education in NZ, we aim to reach and educate all kiwi kids regardless of their background, and we always aim to create fun, interactive and effective products and services.
One of the main events in the world that inspired our direction was that of a Tokyo kindergarten designed by Tezuka Architects lets children run free on the roof. The school followed the Montessori Method, an educational approach where children are given the freedom to learn via discovery. Children running around and moving is a vital part of their development, and we had the idea of incorporating basic tech concepts that we learnt in first year engineering into the rules of games. We wanted to create a new and fun approach to a vital section of education – STEM subjects. This allows the kids to be active and therefore improve their memory and brain functionality, as well as get them to work together and have a healthy dose of competition.
We spoke to some children and learned from their own advice that they preferred information coming from a cartoon character; think Dora the Explorer and Harold the giraffe. For that reason, we decided to create our own character; a mascot. We wanted our character to be representative of New Zealand to show our national pride and not a cliche robot or tech related character. We wanted to show children that utilising tech can actually make the world greener and brighter if done correctly. We of course thought of the kiwi as a mascot but then realised how overused it was, so we thought of native flora and fauna of New Zealand that hasn’t been used as much. The kakapo was selected and so we went ahead on creating our official mascot and logo – Gizmo the Kakapo.
Our very first trial run was all thanks to Thorndon School and their Deputy Principal, Matt Boucher. We were extremely nervous, but prepared to find flaws as we were eager to improve and better our service. We received very positive feedback from both Matt and the kids (of which we were able to trial with 40 kids in total). We were extremely excited as we saw the children actually understanding concepts like the if-statement and Ohm’s law. Not only that, we found that children with a more extroverted leader-like personality were able to lead their teams with respect and care for each member. As for the introverted more quiet kids, they were able to step out of their comfort zone and become an integral part of their team – a vital skill in engineers that is always referenced at university.
Qisma Tech aims to encourage young children to learn and develop valuable technical and social skills in technology. We recognise the value of teachers and the important role they have in not only educating their students but making the students curious to their surroundings and how things work. This is why we teamed up with our partner MakeRipples, to bring a virtual workspace for teachers to be upskilled in tech and keep track of their progress. We recognise that teachers may not have the time to go to certain classes and events and so we thought to bring those resources to the teachers. We have simplified it so that teachers can click, learn and develop at their own pace.