Last weekend, I attended the first ever Brisbane MOBILE hackathon.
First up, team formation. I sat down at a table and introduced myself to Belva, Taiga and Benjamin, who were also looking for a team. After we got our team together, we watched the pitches by Kids Wantu, PreviewMe, and Bridezilla, asking for apps to, respectively, help parents play with kids, get quotes for home improvement and organize a wedding. It was awesome to discover that we would be solving real world problems and have the opportunity to actually provide value to these startups.
Our team vigorously discussed which startup to work with. It wasn’t an easy decision, however, I managed to convince them to work on Bridezilla, because it sounded more fun to work with and was less defined, so we could inject more of our own ideas. In the process I recalled some wise words from Janel Brandon from Coder Academy who visited RedEye to speak at our FRAVO event.
“Really listen. Don’t be caught just thinking about what you’re going to say next to convince people. Listen first.”
It was cool to put Janel’s insights into action. I still did plenty of convincing though.
From there, we got started on what I was most looking forward to doing; getting creative!
Fortunately, Belva had experience with UX/UI design. She guided us through some brainstorming, imagining a persona and grouping problems.
Through our discussions, we came up with these key problems areas for a bridezilla: Finding inspiration, getting tasks done on time, managing budget and involving friends.
Once we had a clear idea of what we wanted to solve, we agreed to pause our discussions for a moment while we sketched out our individual version of what we envisioned the app to be. Making time to sketch out ideas individually was effective as it definitely stopped us from squashing some good ideas. Actually, when we looked at everyone’s sketches we realised that we could more or less Frankenstein them all together to take on Bridezilla.
After we pooled of all of our ideas together, we realised that we only had three hours to code something. We considered using Invision, and in the real world, that would be recommended. However, we had three developers on the team that were eager to code.
We had a React Native developer, an iOS developer and an Android developer in our team. Naturally, I convinced the team to use Flutter. I knew the built-in modern material design components and fast setup would serve us well, let alone the huge benefit to a start-up of being cross-platform. Benjamin, although an experienced full stack developer, had never seen flutter or the Dart language before. He installed it, imported images, made a grid view with overlaid text with neon purple shadows and added navigation to another detail screen, all in the 3 hour limit. Unfortunately, Taiga was handicapped by Windows.
Of course, Belva was on the design, dropping screens and images on-the-fly in the Google drive as we frantically tried to stitch something together. Although, we winged our way through the presentation, we had a working demo to talk through which fit the bill when it came to what the judges were looking for.
So I expect more mobile hackathons in Brisbane soon. I consider it a total success for the startups, the learners, the networkers and of course the WINNERS!