Illustrated by the story of the winners of the recent
The Dublin Hardware Hackathon, the first of it’s kind, attempted to follow in the footsteps of numerous successful software hackathon events that had previously taken place. The concept of a hackathon is that a weekend location is found, and promoted to the relevant community. People with an idea for a product, and/or interested in finding other people with a possible business idea, or solution to a problem. They then come together for an intense 48 period to see if something can be created to develop a solution.
Previous events had involved writing code to create these software solutions. With the hardware hackathon the idea was to extend this concept into creating actual physical products.
Before the event, organisers had no idea what might end up being created, or if anything of use would emerge. The Friday evening provided the platform for potential teams to emerge. Everyone with an idea was given a few minutes to pitch their rough idea to see if any one else was interested in working on that particular idea. Over the next 48 hours the teams that formed then worked to develop these ideas into MVP’s (minimum viable products), to be presented to their peers and dragon’s den style experts and judges on the Sunday evening.
Watching numerous pitches in succession may have been nerve wracking for the participants, but it was really interesting as a member of the audience.
Keep it simple!!!
At least one of the pitches was not clear about what the product was supposed to do. It’s important not to delve too deep into the technological aspect of the product, at least until asked at question time. If you do, you may lose a wider audience who understood it at a higher level without needing to feel less intelligent by not completely understanding how it works.
What did the winning team do right?
- Describe the problem (pain) simply. To begin with, they clearly outlined, simply, what the problem was, in simple language. If a fridge in a pharmacy fails to maintain a constant minimum temperature, then all the medicines in them have to be thrown away, at great cost.
- Describe, simply, the solution. Alert relevant people, that the fridge’s temperature is moving out of the allowable range.
- Describe what you have created to achieve this solution, and, ideally, validate there is a market for your solution. By using a sensor in the fridge to trigger a text message to be sent to the appropriate person, you have a much higher chance of saving potentially thousands of euros in wasted medicines. Possibly the killer move was that the winning team validated this concept before the weekend’s end. Using social media they tracked down a key decision maker in the Boots Chemists chain. Presented their concept to him, and reached that ideal point in the conversation when the customer says ‘where can I buy it?’.
It was a great event to watch, and a reminder, that no matter how technical your product maybe, you still have to be able to pitch, promote and sell it too.
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