First, in our series of interviews with the Sky Women in Technology Scholarship finalists, we speak with Rebecca Saw who has designed a piece of interactive television intending to change the future of storytelling in the entertainment sector.
After discovering the Sky Women in Technology Scholarship on Twitter, she reached the final and won funding to lift the project off the ground.
What was the most valuable thing you took away from the Sky Women in Tech scholarship?
I’m a much more confident person than I was a year ago. One of my friends remarked recently that she could hear a change in the way I spoke about my projects and myself.
Sky Women’s in Tech Scholarship includes mentoring and training, both of which have been invaluable. I’ve got some great advice on presenting technical concepts with clarity, as well as project management training and public speaking opportunities.
Have you always wanted to pursue a career in tech?
I grew up with lots of different career ideas! I loved Maths at school, and I knew I wanted to work in storytelling. I fell in love with coding at uni, and I’m really lucky that my job lets me combine two different passions.
As a woman, what has your experience been so far?
My experience has been mostly very positive – there’s never been a better time to be a woman in tech. There’s lots of space for innovation, and loads of women breaking new ground, as well as meet-ups and online support groups.
Tell us a bit about the project.
I’m creating a proof of concept for a piece of Interactive Television. I’m using emerging technology to create a new form of storytelling, that encourages re-watchability, increases engagement and sparks discussion after viewing. Without revealing too much, it’s a piece that the viewer watches on their TV, interacting with their remote control. It’s not ‘Choose A or B’, instead it’s something which is designed to feel a lot more natural to the traditional TV viewing experience.
Why is it so important?
There’s so much potential in the future of storytelling in the entertainment sector. There’s really interesting innovation happening in the worlds of theatre, Mixed Reality and more traditional video gaming experiences. I want to combine narrative theory with some emerging technology and pioneer how we might tell stories in the future.
How did you hear about the Sky Women in Technology Scholarship?
Where do you actively research such a scheme?
I knew I wanted to get the project funded, so I wrote a list of steps to make it happen, things like getting advice on the project and researching funding opportunities. The Sky Women in Technology Scholarship was actually the first funding opportunity I applied to!
What challenges did you face before receiving Sky’s help?
My main hurdle was finding funding for the project. Sky has also introduced me to a lot of useful people – I’ve been able to chat to filmmakers, developers, 360 video directors and more.
How have you managed the demands, obstacles and fears involved with launching your venture?
I’ve had a lot of great advice. One of the things I worked on with my mentors is identifying insecurities, and working through them. For my project, I’m building the code, directing the actors and managing the project, so it’s a lot of hats to wear. I try to make sure I do as much research as I can and get advice from experienced people, so I’m prepared when I’m taking on a new challenge.
What are you most excited about regarding your project and career?
I love meeting people who are excited by pushing the boundaries of what’s currently possible and pioneering in the tech space.
Who outside of the tech world has been a major influence on where you are today?
Martha Lane Fox delivered the Dimbleby lecture in 2015. It was about the vital role technology and innovation will play in the future. She spoke about how women would be vital in building the future of technology, and shaping future society.
How do you take time out to manage your mental wellbeing?
I like going on long walks and giving my mind space to think about whatever. I’ve been visiting lots of National Trust properties with my family which is a nice change of scene from my computer!
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs in tech?
It’s great to have loads of ideas but pursue the one you can’t go a day without thinking about. Be bold, and think bigger!
Finally, what does the future hold?
I’m editing my interactive television project at the moment, and hoping to continue some research and development about what the future of interactive TV will look like. I’d like to work with existing production companies who are excited by what tech can bring to storytelling.