If you are anything like me and not really sure what a Hackathon is let me explain. Up until last year a Hackathon sounded like a group of computer nerds sitting down coding all night similar to a Facebook movie. True enough, I can code but I’m really not your traditional super hardcore coder, so I’ve kinda stayed away from Hackathons until maybe earlier this year when I became really interested in the Atlanta Black Tech Scene. So one evening I decided to attend a Delta Hackathon Pitching Contest at the Gathering Spot sponsored by Goodie Nation, one of the new Co-Working Private Spaces popping up all over Atlanta for the past 3 years.
The Delta Hackathon was interesting because it immediately turned out to be different from what I thought. It turns out a hackathon is an event where problems are presented about a particular pain point existing in the world today or social organization. These problems, once identified, are solved through technology. For example, Delta asked that participants focus on opportunities that are centered around challenges present at the Atlanta Airport (specifically in these areas: Mobile App Redesign, Specialty Retail, Digital Recognition and Sustainability). Each team, headed by a Founder, would generate an idea and share those ideas through a process beginning in the ideation stage. They were then paired with people with the skill sets needed to tackle the issue. After the product was developed, Founders pitched the idea to the Executive staff and group of people who could potentially benefit from the product.
Even after this event I wasn’t completely sure of the process so I took the liberty of signing myself up in a effort to increase my tech skills by learning something new, increasing my social currency as well as testing myself against other tech people in the community. Soooo here is my experience:
The day started at 11:30 am and I caught Uber because we were offered a 20% discount by using the #HackTheViolence promo code and it was a great idea because my ride from my home in Smyrna to Ponce Market was a cool $2.32 which turned out to be a great deal 🙂 – Can we say PERKS?! When I arrived I went to General Assembly, which is a co-working space that teaches technical classes to people seeking technical exposure. When I arrived we went through some housekeeping and an overview of what we could expect from the Ideation Lab. The top tips were to keep an open mind, trust the process and the final and most important part, ‘Nobody cares about your Product until it Solves a Problem’ .The process was very specific. Here are the steps we had to walk through:
- Identity type of User that will use your Product
- Develop a User Persona
- Identify Pain Points of the User and how it relates
- Understanding Why the Problem Exist
- Create a Value Proposition
- Generate a Solution with 3 features
- Create a Codename and Storyboard for the Product
Each part of the process entails thinking about each question in detail with team members and mentors and going through a series of 15-20 minutes sprints in which you write on stickies how many ideas you can think of in regards to the idea at hand.
I worked with my mentor Candace Bazemore who expertise resides in digital marketing who is also expert in social media, marketing and all things digital. I really appreciate being paired with her as she was able to help me think through the entire process as well as storyboard out my thought process. I met her and Shay who is an entertainment attorney at the introductory mixer the previous night. Fun times I tell ya..
I actually learned a lot from the process as I’ve founded and worked in a startup (not formal), entrepreneurship, corporate america and the public sector from each I’ve learned very distinct things. Startup thinking is actually different being that it encourages one to fail fast and brainstorm with subject matter experts before actually going forward with the idea. Normally in the other projects we think of ideas and work trying to build and spending time to create instead of ‘Failing Fast’ to see if the idea is even viable.
This is my first lab experience at a Hackathon and I will continue to document it as this is a five month process. It’s really going to be fun! I’m EXCITED!!!
Leave comments below if you have any questions, or you can shoot me an email I’ll be sure to respond 🙂