Mentorship motivating students
In July, KTH students Hiba Adem and Safae Berrahmoune won one million SEK in investment. Now, they launch their mentor app DYAMO to get more students to stay in school. In five years, their want every Swedish student to have DYAMO in their pocket.
Hiba and Safae both study at KTH and have known each other for 19 years. The idea for DYAMO came to them one evening when they were baking a cake for a friend.
- We realized we both wanted to do something to help motivate young people, says Safae. We both worked as homework helpers, and realized that homework help is not enough to get young people to stay in school. Once a week isn't enough; then the students have time to fall back into old patters. They need something extra. Our solution is mentorship, and it must be digital, continuous and easily accessible.
A digital mentor in your pocket
Hiba and Safae started developing DYAMO, a "digital mentor in your pocket". The app connects high school students with mentors through a smart matching method. The students get support matched to their individual needs, from poor self esteem to study technique. The students are completely anonymous.
- Since the students are anonymous, they can speak freely, says Safae. It also gives them the signal that the mentor doesn’t care who you are, what your name is, where you come from or what you look like. They only care that you are a student in need of support.
Won 1 million SEK in investment
In July, DYAMO won SHIFT, a competition by Breakit to find the best startups in the suburbs and in the countryside. Six investors went in with one million SEK for a tenth of the company.
- The investment allowed us to develop the platform, but the most important thing for us was not the money but the people behind it, Hiba explains. Their network and knowledge is truly a door opener.
Motivation through gamification
An important part of the app is the combination of gamification and mentorship. In the DYAMO game, students solve problems and collect keys. When the student has collected five keys, they get a gift.
- In some areas, more than 50% of students graduate from high school without full grades, Safae says. We need DYAMO because students have lost their connection to the school system. DYAMO makes the students feel more confident in themselves. They become more motivated.
Collaborates with schools
DYAMO collaborates with schools to reach out to students. In the current business model, the schools pay per pupil, and in return receive anonymized data on the pupils’ experience and what the school could improve.
- We work with schools throughout Sweden, but started in Järva because we went to school there ourselves, Hiba says. The goal is for Dyamo to be in every student's pocket throughout Sweden. This autumn, the goal is to have 120 users in the app.
An entrepreneurial environment
The place for the interview is KTH Innovation's new premises at Teknikringen 1 that have just opened after the pandemic.
- Being here is fantastic, says Hiba. The best thing is that you can run into interesting people in the corridor, or just knock on KTH Innovation’s door if you need help with something. It's great to be in an environment with other entrepreneurs and feel that "I'm a part of this". That is really important when you are a startup. You have a small team and work a lot on your own.
Feedback from other teams
Every Wednesday, Dyamo and the other teams in Batch 12 of the pre-incubator program meet over lunch, to focus on a specific topic in business development. Right now, they are preparing their pitch for KTH Innovation Demo Day, which takes place in November. After that, it's time for Batch 12 to leave the program.
- Everyone in the program is very open with their feedback. It is a very positive environment. When we talk about DYAMO with the others, we also understand how they perceive us. "Okay, we need to adjust this." For the next meeting, we have often tweaked the way we talk about DYAMO.
Application is open
Why should someone apply?
- You grow as a person and learn from the other teams, says Safae.
- It opens doors, Hiba continues. You get access to skills and many things that would have been difficult otherwise. You get coaching, legal help, PR, office space, networking, all for free. It would not have been as easy if it had not been for KTH Innovation. 100% recommended to apply.
Text: Lisa Bäckman