Meet KTH startup ImagiLabs: girls shaping the future with tech
Find a problem you’re passionate about solving, and a friend to do it with, and you’ll figure out the rest along the way. We talked to Dora Palfi, founder of ImagiLabs, about their journey from idea to launching their first product, what the future has in toll, and their experience in the KTH Innovation Brighter Program.
Things are moving fast for ImagiLabs these days. After spending two weeks in Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp in
Silicon Valley and putting the finishing touches on their first product, the team has now also completed their Kickstarter campaign.
Co-founders Dora Palfi and Beatrice Ionascu have been practically inseparable for the past 6 years, even though work and studies have taken them to many different countries. Everywhere they went, they encountered the same problem: too few young girls chose to study in the STEM fields.
We firmly believe that tech is what’s shaping our future, but right now women aren’t as active as men are in developing new technology. This is what we want to change.
What started as a research project during Dora Palfi’s studies in the EIT Digital Human-Computer Interaction Master’s Program, has developed into an ever-growing and co-creating community. ImagiLabs brings coding into smartphones, by letting young girls customize the
ImagiCharm, a “quirky little gadget” that can change its color and design using multi-color LEDs.
It’s fun and easy to use, but not too easy. It’s important for us that the girls keep learning and using the app, and we love seeing all the new creations. One girl recently coded a pattern that matched her shoes; the combinations are endless!
The ImagiLabs team first came into contact with KTH Innovation in February 2017. Guided by their business development coach Tom Magnergård, they’ve developed their startup project, gotten funding for creating their first prototype, support with their contracts and agreements, and much more. In October 2018, right before leaving KTH Innovation, they were one of the teams selected to travel to New York City in the KTH Innovation Brighter Program.
Sweden isn’t a huge market, so it was interesting to get out there and get an international perspective, says Dora. It was also validating for us to see that the problem we had identified was also very much existent in the United States.
Every year, KTH Innovation brings select KTH startups to global innovation hubs, to give them a taste of the international market. After preparations in Stockholm, the program culminates in an intense week in New York City, Boston or Munich, before ending back again in Stockholm. Dora says:
We loved visiting organizations around the city, meeting with founders, and having conversations with the others in the program. We tend to get stuck in our own problems, so it was great to hear what the others were struggling with, doing well or doing better than us. It was a great boost for our personal motivation!
New York City is a gateway to the American market and all the opportunities it provides. The city attracts the second most investments in startups in the world, beaten only by Silicon Valley. The week spent overseas is intense. When asked how best to prepare, Dora says:
A lot of us struggle with taking time off work, but if you’re accepted to the program, be super open-minded. Be fully present, absorb all the knowledge, learn, and reflect on what you’ve gained. Also, before you leave, think about who you want to meet and don’t be shy about contacting people. We ended up having a lot of interesting meetings just from connecting with people on LinkedIn.
Looking back on the journey, Dora says:
There’s no better time or place than here at KTH to do this. For us at ImagiLabs, it’s been super exciting to take on this problem that we’re so passionate about solving, and to get all this support in doing it. My advice to someone who wants to try developing an idea is to find a good friend and a good problem to solve, and you’re good to go. The ecosystem is there to support you with the rest.