7:30am – Woke up from dreams about the product… of course!
9:00am – Arrived at Inspire9 and checked in with my team. We agreed that we would work on the product until 1:00pm and then have our first pitch presentation rehearsal. Then we would look at prettying up the product between 1:00pm and 4:00pm, and practice our pitch again at 2:00pm and 3:00pm. We also did a review of what tasks needed to be done.
We were excited about the opportunities for the product – for example, it could open up to other sectors (find a female UX designer, find a female developer, etc) and we also liked the idea of a “Nominate” feature, where you could nominate another female for a job or event.
It would be funded by a subscription model, where clients-looking-for-female-experts would pay a low subscription fee to access the female network.
9:30am – Breakfast.
10:00am – Sally and I continued with content, and contacting people, and preparing the presentation. Shristi continued with the application. As I was doing the presentation, and looking at how to fit it into 3 minutes, I realised that most of it needed to be cut. I ditched the current approach (where we were addressing the 6 judging criteria one-by-one) and instead set out a plan based on the time:
- 1st minute – Setup (introduce ourselves and our product)
- 2nd minute – Product (show the product and how it works)
- 3rd minute – Wow (show our vision/roadmap, and all the customers we have lined up for the product)
This was really helpful. When it came time to practice our presentation, we practiced and timed ourselves on these 1-minute segments, and saw exactly where we needed to cut more. Chop chop.
We also decided on the product name: SheLeads.
11:00am – Yoga. It was great to have a stretch. Then, back to work, adding content to the application and contacting people.
12:00pm – Lunch.
1:00pm – We had a review of the application, and I was a bit frustrated because we weren’t showing that we were taking payments, however we still had a couple of hours, and I thought at the minimum, we could add in some copy that talked about paying via PayPal. Sally had been gathering images for the website, but we were unable to add these in. We had our first run-through of the presentation, and found that we needed to cut it even further!
2:00pm – Sally and I were still massaging the presentation and contacting more and more people. One thing that became clear on the Saturday was how it was quite difficult to get work done. There were so many mentors at the hackathon that we were being interrupted about every half-hour, and asked, “Hey, everyone! So what are you working on?” As I’d taken the role of hustler, I fielded these questions and spoke to people. This took up quite a bit of time, and was quite frustrating. There were a couple of mentors who told us specifically how they could help (e.g. “I’m good with business plans”) and we asked them for advice. However, towards the end, I had to say to people that we didn’t need any help at the moment.
2:30pm – Another run-through of our presentation. We were feeling pretty good about it – hitting all the points we wanted to hit in 3 minutes. A couple of mentors listened to our practice runs, and gave us some really good advice – about talking much more slowly, and needing to cut the pitch down even further, so that we could speak more slowly! – and about relating our pitch back to the females in the room, and making it more emotional and interesting.
3:00pm – Sally and I didn’t know what to do anymore. I had checked with Shristi if I could edit the HTML/CSS on the site and “juj” it up a bit (does anyone know how to spell that word?!) and she said she would need to make a copy of some files, and send them to me, and then I could edit them and send them back to her. She didn’t have time to do this, though, and I’m not sure I would have been able to pretty it up by doing it that way.
Our end product looked like this, and you can also see our SheLeads project page:
Our final 3-minute pitch outline:
4:00pm – We had another rehearsal of our pitch. The schedule was running a bit slow, so although the presentations were meant to start at 4:00pm, I think they started at 4:30pm. I was so tired, I was yawning and yawning and yawning. Have I mentioned that I was desperately needing sugar? I wished I had brought some candy.
5:00pm – The pitches continued. I have a list of the final products in my next post, and what I thought about them!
6:00pm – Sometime in this hour, we had our pitch. I had zero energy and it was hard. I was really proud of our product idea, and its potential, and I thought there was a chance we could win, because I could see our product being real, financially viable, and successful, whereas I couldn’t see some of the other products succeeding in the real world (then again, sometimes I’m wrong; I thought Aardvark was going to be big). I wasn’t sure if we’d done enough hacking, though… essentially, we had a simple website with a login (although there was the option to log in with LinkedIn), and the logged-in user could add content with a form. I wasn’t sure if that would be enough.
The last pitch of the night was Garage Sale Map, and something one of the judges said afterwards – I can’t remember what it was – suggested to me that they were judging on charisma more than anything else. From this, I figured that this team might win, but I also figured that there were quite a few judges, and other judges might feel differently.
You can see all the pitches here, and our pitch is at 36:38.
7:00pm or thereabouts – Finally, sugar! Cakes were served. I had half a cupcake and it was fantastic. The judges went away, then came back again. The Social Good Prize was announced: OneStopRecycle. The Second Prize was announced: Wake Up Dress Up. The First Prize was announced: Garage Sale Map.
And, to be honest, here’s where things got a bit tough for me. The announcer said something like (completely paraphrased!): “I want to point out two things that Garage Sale Map really did right. They spoke to their customers. It’s really important that you speak to your customers. Also, you could see they were a great team. You could see their enthusiasm and how they got along so well with each other. In a situation like this, you need to be able to spend some time making friends with people, so that you are a good team.”
I think, then, another announcer said something like, “If anyone would like feedback on their product or pitch, please come around and talk to the judges, they will be happy to give you feedback.”
I thought both of these announcements were, in my world, bad UX. Firstly, there had been many pitches where the presenters told us that they had spoken to their customers. Off the top of my head – SpotHop said they talked to some mothers of young children. UniformEthic said they talked to a school principal, and some mums. My team said we talked to a bunch of event organisers and females willing to be speakers. And other teams talked about their customers, too. Secondly, I don’t understand how you can tell people they need to be in a team that has bonded really well. I mean, if anyone has tips for me on how to bond really well with strangers in 24 hours, while being realistic about different personality types and being put in a high-pressure situation, etc, I’m all ears… I don’t know how to do it.
And as for the second announcement about feedback? Gosh. I was just so tired. I think it would have been really good if we could have all received a miniature dot-point summary at the end, addressing the criteria in relation to our products, and showing us where we could improve. It was difficult working on something for free, and being excited about it, then having no feedback at the end. Fortunately, one of the judges, Jason Cormier, was walking around, giving feedback to people, and he said (again, paraphrased!): “Hey, don’t be discouraged. Your product was great. We had a tough decision as judges, because there were so many impressive products. Have you heard about Startup Weekend and GovHack? They do some really cool projects. You should get involved.” That just about made my day. Thank you Jason.
In saying all that, however, I do concede that I’m always keenly aware of how people might feel (it’s my job) whereas many people at She Hacks might have actually felt completely fine with the announcements and the ending. And I certainly don’t think poorly of the organisers… they ran an amazing event and we felt special and excited almost the whole time, and it was their first time running it, and they are keen as mustard to a) get feedback and make improvements and b) run another She Hacks next year!
This series on She Hacks is continued in She Hacks, Part 3: Overall.
[Image credits: Yishan Chan Photography]