During the European Commission’s SME Assembly in Luxembourg, SME Insider spoke with Lili Scout, a 13-year-old entrepreneur from Australia’s Sunshine Coast and the face of the Tech Girls are Superheroes movement. Lili spoke about her dream of getting more young women into the tech world, why children can start a business at any age and how she aims to support small businesses.
Lili is a passionate young entrepreneur, with a vision to inspire a generation of young girls using a modern approach and by setting an example herself.
After having her own business selling cupcakes with her younger brother at the age of 10, Lili, now 13, is determined to continue engaging herself in the entrepreneurial community and keep striving for excellence to achieve her vision. Lili has been involved in a number of startup events across Australia, and has attended many events and discussions surrounding the topic of entrepreneurship.
Lili is also the face of the Tech Girls are Superheroes movement, a non-profit organisation promoting positive female information technology role models to encourage and raise awareness of technology careers options for girls throughout Australia.
Tell me more about Tech Girls are Superheroes and your work with entrepreneurs
So the Tech Girls Movement is based in Australia and we run a youth entrepreneurship programme for young girls in primary school and high school. They embark on a 12-week programme developing a prototype for an app.
They then upload their pitch video to YouTube and create a business plan. The girls are then invited to an awards ceremony where they are recognised for their achievements. The movement also has a number of workshops which help inspire young girls who are interested in a career with technology.
And how has the programme been received?
So last year we ran the programme and received 18 applications. This year we got 140 video applications; some submissions were from girls as young as eight years old, which is absolutely brilliant.
Next year we plan to get around 500 applications as we now have Facebook and Google on board to help us with the initiative.
Do you think children should be starting a business at such a young age?
I believe that you shouldn’t exclude anyone from entrepreneurship because you can learn vital skills that can be helpful in later life, such as communication and leadership skills.
— Michael Tucker (@MichaelTuckerTV) November 22, 2015
And do you feel under any pressure to be a successful entrepreneur?
I’m really blessed because I live with my family who are really supportive and all come from an entrepreneurial background (Lili’s mother has been a business owner for over 17 years, running her own software development compnay) so there aren’t really any expectations being held from other people.
I do hold some expectations of myself because I know that I can do amazing things if I put my mind to it. Things sometimes do get stressful during the school year, so it’s essential to find a balance between work and life.
And what are your plans for the future – do you want to go to university, undertake an apprenticeship or start a business after leaving school?
I am definitely going to finish school, and I would love to study abroad, particularly in Europe. I think Australia is great, but Australia isn’t really the place for me.
I would love to try out a number of different things. I want to undertake an internship in a TV network as the idea of being a foreign correspondent interests me and career in politics also sounds interesting.
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
At the moment I am really in to wearable technology. I can also never leave the house without my iPhone!
If you could give one piece of advice to a young girl who wants to be an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Don’t be scared to put yourself out there because the worst thing that can happen in business is being told ‘no’ so I think it’s important to ask lots of questions and learn all the time.
You say that you may go into politics one day, so if you were prime minister of Australia for just one day, what would you do for small businesses?
I think it’s really important for our government to be involved in small businesses, so I would like to set up a nationwide support network that will listen to SME owners and help them further their ideas.