With STEM You Can: unlocking the code to tech entrepreneurship
Little did Tash Jamieson know that by attempting to infuse enjoyment into her stepson’s study routine, she was laying the foundation for what would become Lockpick Games. This edtech start-up makes adventure video games, helping students’ study for the selective high school test.
It all started in 2021, when Drake, Tash’s stepson, was having difficulty preparing for his selective high school entrance exams. “Drake would say, ‘It’s not fair that you make me do extra homework after school. I already go to school five days a week and have homework from my teacher,’” Tash said.
Recognising the challenge, Tash and her partner decided to do something. They had to work out a way to make studying fun. Although Tash’s skillset lay in international relations, politics, and geopolitics, her expertise in understanding complex systems and how they impact people provided a valuable foundation. Plus, a background in government organisations and intergovernmental relations also equipped her with a holistic perspective that extends beyond technical knowledge.
Focus on the end user
“You can be the best coder on the planet, but if you don’t understand how your code will affect the end user, you’ve got no chance of creating a good product or experience,” Tash said.
In her previous job, Tash helped Australian start-ups expand their companies overseas. But the work slowed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leading Tash to support start-ups in their day-to-day tasks.
The defining moment came when Tash collaborated with a start-up to build its website before an important release. This experience ignited her excitement for problem-solving using low-code solutions. This was also when Tash realised that through technology – particularly low-code and simple software solutions – she could create tangible change, and fast. “I found it exciting to be able to change a line of code and for it to instantaneously impact the people I’m helping,” she said.
The ability to make a difference quickly and directly motivated Tash to venture into entrepreneurship, running her own business and helping young people overcome learning challenges.
Nurturing creativity and transferable skills
At eight years old, Tash would use a whiteboard, pencils and paper to make video games. “I’ve always had a fascination with technology. But, for whatever reasons, I decided I was bad at maths and this wasn’t the path for me. I was a humanities person, so I believed I wasn’t good at technical things,” she said.
But her interest in technology, solving problems and gaming remained. When the opportunity arose to dive into a project to provide solutions, Tash took the plunge. “It wasn’t until I started helping people to solve problems that suddenly I understood coding,” Tash said.
Tash’s integration of technology into her family’s life, such as gaming and music creation, has fostered creativity and an awareness of the possibilities that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) offer. By using technology as a medium for learning, Tash’s stepson and other young students can visualise diverse pathways and understand how STEM can be applied in various contexts.
Code for tech success
Tash offers several insights for those considering a career in technology.
“Firstly, it’s about understanding that it’s as big or as small as you want to make it. Whatever sparks your passion and interest is the place to start. It’s like learning a language, right? That’s what coding is,” Tash said.
“Once you start to understand the logic of how languages work, everything becomes less complicated. If it’s music production, pick up something like Ableton or GarageBand, and start understanding how it’s structured.
“Secondly, take the pressure of needing to look and feel like a certain image of a software developer.
“For young girls who feel that STEM isn’t for them, it’s important that they see different types of technologists. Everyone’s career path is unique. It’s important to remember that.”