Kotikan at Product Forge 3

At the end of November, Kotikan sponsored Product Forge. Product Forge is a 50 hour hackathon bringing together developers, designers, entrepreneurs and project managers to develop new ideas and nurture their skills.

I was a mentor at the event, helping teams learn about Business Model Canvas, Lean product development, brainstorming, presentation skills, team dynamics and anything else where I felt I could add value.

The hackathon kicked off with pizza and sponsor messages. First off, we heard from the sponsors across the pond, gandi.net and .xyz as they skyped us from Silicon Valley. Gandi.net and .xyz supported the event by providing mentoring and domain names.

Then we heard from Tadas (@Labudis), a Product Manager here at Kotikan, who discussed how to validate business ideas using a lean approach. This is something we do a lot of in the R&D team at Kotikan, and Tadas shared some really valuable insight into what has worked for us, and what hasn’t.

Following that, we heard from Conrad (@conradr), Digital Marketing Manager at Shelter, who introduced the ‘Start With Why’ ted talk by Simon Sinek, discussing how leaders can inspire cooperation, trust and change in consumers.

After hearing these inspiring messages and advice from the sponsors, the participants got a chance to pitch their own ideas to the group, form teams and start hacking.

There was lots of Red Bull, Stoats porridge and Kotikan cupcakes to keep us all going, andCodebase helpfully let us have access to the venue 24/7 so there was plenty of late night sessions.

Come Sunday evening, the 5 teams were ready to present their ideas to the rest of the group. Here’s what they came up with:

  1. GOYA! (Which stands for “Get Off Your Ass!”) brings people together who may be apart. A social platform for friends who share an interest participating in a sport and want to keep in touch with the people they exercise with. A hugely enthusiastic team who executed on a great idea.

  2. TextItDone - A “To do list” based on SMS - no apps, no cross-platform problems, working on not-so-smart phones. The team of two were passionate about producing a system that would work even on the simplest phone with only a basic SMS connection. In the short space of time they got a prototype up and running and got the rest of the group involved in their many experiments.

  3. WeatherSelfie - Displaying weather information pictorially. Instead of a wall of numbers on a pretty background this app showed pictures of that location on a day with the same weather. You’ll see what the weather will be instead of reading a chart. A beautifully designed prototype showed what is possible if you have the time and huge talent.

  4. UniChance - What’s your chances of getting into a university as a foreign student applying from the other side of the world? In the USA students pay around $100 to each university they apply to. UniChance gives you the information to assess your chances of getting into a specific institution. Less wasted money, time and less heartache! Crowd funded information forms the data source for this much needed product. Great design, and passion to solve a real problem led to a well-crafted solution.

  5. Skills Matrix - Learn a skill online such as sign-language, dancing or make-up application, you can then video yourself performing the skill and have your new ability verified by independent mentors. The folk on this team went from idea to working website in a weekend, and produced a great presentation. They even got many of the room get up and dance the Dougie!!

The winners were GOYA and close runners up, Skills Matrix.

It was a hectic 50 hours, but really worth it. Some awesome products came out of it, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how these progress in the coming months.