Aisha Bowe’s STEMBoard is likely a familiar name to a select group of Bahamian and Caribbean students who were able to dip their toes into the expansive world of technology through her innovative summer programs focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The name is now in the top half of one of the top business magazine’s lists of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.
STEMBoard can now be found at spot 2,284 on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list. Bowe, the Bahamian aerospace engineer founder of the company, which has carried out myriad jobs for the United States’ defense arm, is just getting started.
Even as Bowe celebrates this achievement, she is set to expand STEMBoard’s latest project targeting global youth development in STEM, a product called LINGO.
She, along with two others (including another Bahamian) have also founded a company called Mahiri Med, which provides personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19, as well as a COVID-19 rapid test, which has been approved in Europe and is under review by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration.
STEMBoard, according to it’s profile on Inc.’s list, has shown an impressive 183 percent growth in three years. The company only launched its innovative LINGO product in June of this year, almost immediately having to ready it for expansion after promising reviews.
Despite this success, Bowe said she was hesitant to test the strength of her company by subjecting it to the scrutiny of the Inc. 5000.
“I just remember thinking there is no way we’re going to make the list,” said Bowe.
“To have the results come out and to be at the top half of the list…I’m just excited to make the 5000, because the 50 is when you really get into 1,000 percent growth, but it’s a good start.
“I felt intimidated by it and I thought there’s no way this could happen. And then I was like, ‘Isn’t this contrary to everything you speak about? You are about people putting themselves out there, about taking chances.’
“You never know how life is going to reward your effort. You just have to put it out there.”
Bowe said she originally hoped STEMBoard would be a Silicon Valley success story amidst the gaggle of technology firms resting comfortably within the bosom of a venture capitalist firm. But there were no takers.
She has therefore grown the company organically since 2013, without outside funding.
“In the United States, you need venture capitalists to validate your business. It’s almost as if you’re not good unless someone else says, ‘I will invest in you,’” she said.
“I’m really out to challenge a lot of the things I was told when I was younger, like, you’re going to tell me that it’s hard to start a business, or I’m unlikely to start a business. I’m going to show you that’s not true.
“I’ve been in business for seven years. I’m going to show you that you can have a business that is profitable, but also making the nation and the world a better place. I want to have a business that’s technically proficient, but that invests in communities that not only I serve, but that represents the emerging workforce.”
In a company press statement, Bowe said of the Inc. accolade: “Thank you Inc. Magazine. This stellar recognition comes at a pivotal time in STEMBoard’s evolution. We have grown exponentially in the past few years and continue to do so now, as we are now further scaling up to meet the important engineering solutions demands of our customers.
“The STEMBoard team also recently adopted a new mission – to use its engineering expertise to proactively service the growing need of communities worldwide for self-paced, remote-learning, STEM education tools. For this reason, we opened an educational division and on June 23rd of this year, launched our LINGO coding kit product line.”
Bowe said STEMBoard’s “home-brewed” education program has reached thousands of students internationally over the course of the last six years and is “not only poised to scale, but actually provide value in a school setting and deliver culturally relevant narratives”.
According to Bowe, STEMBoard is poised to partner with companies that might be interested in increasing the manufacturing capacity of LINGO and supporting global distribution.
“In the first thirty days, we flew through almost 1,000 LINGO kits,” she said.
Bowe is eying STEMBoard becoming a $100 million company within the next ten years.