NCXT is a design-oriented technology company, delivering technical and user-friendly business solutions for a better world. Founders Jonathan Banks and Jeff Aguy come from backgrounds in customer experience, psychology, leadership and design thinking. In 2018, they decided to pool their entrepreneurial ambition to create a human-centric approach to product and business development.
Reflecting on their shared backgrounds and experiences, Aguy said, “As we’re doing all these things for social justice, we started recognizing that businesses are in the best position to make the world a better place. So we created NCXT to do that.”
Presently, their main client is MoneyVerbs, a behavioral app designed to teach its users better financial practices. This spring, NCXT brought on Mohammed Safwat and Khalique Rogers through the SciTech Internship Program to assist them with the app development.
Banks has worked with interns throughout his career and has come to view them as a crucial part of any small business model. “Interns at the intense learning and development stage of their life are the epitome of innovation,” Banks said. “Learning something, trying something, seeing if it works or if it doesn’t. I think that’s just an essential foundation of an innovative company.”
Laying the groundwork
During their internships, Rogers and Safwat engaged with multiple facets of the research and design process. They took part in sessions with NCXT designers, curated modules, conducted tests and synthesized the resulting data.
“Khalique has taken on a strong role using digital tools to conduct research,” Banks said. “He’s done a lot with digital technologies like Zoom, and using digital design technology to help facilitate the things that lay the groundwork for development.
“Mo has been more involved with the development work itself, writing code, checking for bugs etc. It’s been nice to see how working with [SciTech] has provided a whole piece of the delivery process for us.”
Rogers has since been hired fulltime as a management analyst. On his journey from intern to full time employee, he said, “There was a lot that I learned as a whole. My professionalism took a whole other leap when it comes to understanding how to work in the corporate ecosystem and culture.”
Balancing work when life changes
NCXT has been operating around a work-from-home model since quarantine started. What’s interesting, Banks noted, is that although their team members didn’t see each other in the office during that time, they started running into one another at protests, clean-ups and other volunteer events around the community after the death of George Floyd.
“A big thing that’s been front and center for us has been to keep engaging with the business community,” Banks said. “We created some business resources for the Minnesota Tech Diversity pledgees. It’s been kind of a call to action for companies. There’s so much that’s obvious right now and everyone has the opportunity to make the moves they’ve been wanting to make. Now the opportunity is there and we want to help enable them.”
NCXT’s dedication to change is a large part of what drew Rogers to the company in the first place. “I’ve always been inquisitive, and would wonder why thing are the way they are,” Rogers said. “I was also very passionate about the things I’ve seen in my community that needed to change. When it comes to the design and development process, it can bring the change that I want to see, and not just for myself but for the organization. With NCXT, those are things that I’ve aligned with, in seeing their vision and how they want to make ‘our best world.’”
Learning is growing
At its core, NCXT is about positively impacting the people around you. From the practical skills they developed, to the social justice they embraced and pursued, both Rogers and Safwat gained much more from their internships than what the job description implied.
“I really enjoyed this experience,” Rogers said. “It gave me a boost and allowed me to see the world differently. This was an amazing opportunity that I was able to be a part of. It’s helped me on my life journey so far.”
“This project exposed me to how they actually do things in real life,” Safwat agreed, “and it’s just been amazing for me. To see the backend development and the product developers and how they work concurrently together. I learned a lot and it was a priceless experience for sure.”
Learning is what internships are all about, but sometimes it goes much deeper than that. “Learn along the way,” Aguy said. “As long as you’re learning you’re growing. Always imagine the world as you want it to be, not as it is, and let that vision drive you toward the future. And, if need be, motivate everyone else around you to see that as a reality. As you do that, there will be so many people who come with you. Just as you both have come along with us, and it’s been a blessing.”
Learn more about other SciTech internships on our blog at SciTechMN.org.