Migrathon was a one-day hackathon that promoted working with first-generation migrants to come up with a business idea that has a social impact.
I love working in teams from diverse backgrounds. One of our team members arrived in Sydney from South Africa just ten days before!
As a result of our diversity, when we brainstormed problems to solve, we got very varied responses. From finding ingredients for local cuisines to improving financial literacy to vaccines for hookworm!
The idea: saving on groceries to meet your financial goals
We ended up working on the idea of an app to compare prices of grocery items and connecting it to the consumer’s savings goals.
Price comparison apps already existed and they didn’t seem very well used, so we thought that we might be able to add value by not only showing shoppers how much they can save but also helping them improve their finances by relating it to savings goals.
Honestly, it was another one of those moments where we were too focused on the solution and going deep into its features and functionality (and often going on side tangents!) without fully understanding the problem.
Why does this keep happening????
I think that’s one of the downfalls of these one-day hackathons – we’re too time-pressured to do any proper research on the problem. Even so, I felt like we could’ve spent more time thinking about the customer’s pain points and the benefits they would get from using the app and pitch that, rather than pitching the features.
Catching up with old friends
In any case, I loved meeting so many new people and also bumping into ‘old’ ones!
I caught up with Si from the WIT Hackathon and learned that he was doing some cool things on the side of his software consultancy business — something to do with the Internet of Things.
From what I could gather, he was basically talking about using the data from smart devices to stalk your routines in your home. Man, it’s creepy just how much data can be captured through those devices.
But he gave me the example of being able to tell when grandma might be in danger if you noticed that a certain appliance was turned on for too long, etc. so I guess there are beneficial uses of this data.
Take time to learn about the team.
It’s a good idea to list down each team member’s strengths/weaknesses and background/experience in the beginning so that it’s easier to assign tasks and roles. Sometimes, though, team members have hidden talents that they didn’t even consider raising! (I’m looking at you, Jacob, and your top-notch drawing skills.)
Ensure that someone keeps the team on track.
Try to make sure that you stop yourselves from going down random tangents! It’s hard when there are many people in the group who are opinionated or have all kinds of ideas. But time is limited so you really need to knuckle down and focus. We spent way too much time going back and forth.
Get statistics from secondary sources to support your claims.
It’s quite impossible to get enough customer interviews to validate your idea in one day! Doing some desktop research will at least go some way towards convincing the judges that what you are pitching is valid.
Have a Devil’s Advocate in the team to provide you with a critical perspective.
There’s nothing worse than groupthink. Someone should be assigned to actively think about the ways that the idea could be flawed and poke holes to ensure that we address any concerns.
Don’t get bogged down in the detail of features and functionality! Seriously!
All of this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that there is a legitimate problem felt by a significant number of people, and they’re willing to pay to solve it with your solution.
User feedback is SUPER important!
Great advice from Rinku, the founder of Connections Australia. Go out and talk to people who will use your product! She spent 8 months going around just about every suburb to talk to migrants about what they’d like to see in her app. That’s just pure #hustle.
A wide spectrum of ideas
There were also some pretty interesting ideas from the other teams:
- An app that uses video to make an agreement, to protect people from online scams
- A platform to connect the elderly who want a sense of purpose and social connection to people who could use their expertise
- A solution that uses an algorithm to automate the visa application process
- An app to connect parents to childcare services and a secondary app for workers to fulfil their mandatory reporting requirements, which would link to the parents’ profiles
- A platform to provide migrants with information on how to get their overseas qualifications recognised in Australia