If we understood technology better, we would be able to fix things when they break and make new things to suit our own needs. This is the simple thought that inspired Technology Will Save Us (TWSU), a hugely successful business built on teaching electronics and code through educational do-it-yourself kits and practical workshops.
Moving Brands had the pleasure of hearing the founders of the Hackney-based company, Bethany and Daniel, speak about their journey from fledgling start-up to a business working globally, with partners ranging from the V&A and Kinetica Art Fair to educators and tech companies across the country.
There is currently a huge demand for learning materials to support technology, electronics and coding projects, from both the tech industry and schools. Ex-MBer, and mutual friend of TWSU, Tim Brooke recently talked about the value of creating our own tech products in a video interview here. With the UK National Curriculum changing to include these previously neglected subjects in the classroom, teachers are increasingly turning to businesses like TWSU and Bare Conductive for basic knowledge, and to introduce fun and much-needed expertise into lessons.
Bethany and Daniel put an emphasis on how essential trust and responsibility is to learning, which is why many TWSU workshops with schools and young people begin with a hands-on lesson in soldering. Having confidence handling a hot soldering iron might sound like a simple step, but makes the world of electronics far less daunting.
These workshops also provide valuable focus-testing and research for new TWSU products. No kit is ever released without being used in public workshops. User-centric research was a theme throughout the talk: the key to engaging young people is to offer products relevant to their interests. TWSU carried out extensive workshops with a group of ‘young advisors’ from local schools, resulting in DIY kits designed for the expected themes of computer games, fashion and sports, as well as the more surprising themes of food and making new friendships.
The breadth of disciplines involved in creating TWSU’s products is extensive: from initial prototyping of the kits, to product design, branding, packaging, and the creation of extensive educational material to teach users to assemble and code the final result. What is most surprising is that all this is accomplished by a small core team of 13 people, taking place in two small-ish buildings in East London.
There are exciting things on the horizon for Technology Will Save Us, including new kits and a continually expanding business. It’s exciting to see such success from a company with a genuine commitment to communities and nurturing skills at a grass-roots level. In a time where technology is increasingly disposable, Bethany and Daniel are filling an educational gap that the UK government is finally becoming aware of. Given time, Technology Will Save Us might just give us the knowledge to save ourselves.