The Build-Up to Basic Prototyping: Week 5 at Made by Many

The typical hackathon model of idea creation typically went like this:

  1. Think of a problem.
  2. Create a product to fix it.

That’s it. Two steps and you’re ready to prototype.

This entire process takes place in 24 hours.

Today marks the start of week 6. We have just recently set the goal of having a concrete singular idea by the end of this week. It would have never occurred to me that it was even possible to take ~a month to come up with a single idea. Now that we have run through the process, I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. For all the hackathoners out there that were like me, here are three necessary steps we took in the last week to come up with our final project idea.

1. An in-depth mapping

A mapping of the event space categorized by actors and their tasks as the event process progresses

Instead of immediately limiting ourselves to a single idea based on the feedback we received in week 4's interviews, we mapped out the entire process detailed to us by our interviewees. We then placed stickers on the tasks throughout the process that were specified to be particularly difficult. The focus of our final handful of plausible solutions came from these identified pain points.

2. Scheduling prototyping interviews with each type of actor in the space*

Just when you thought the interviews were over, they’re back! Though our products are primarily targeted to event planners, some of them have a two-sided marketplace. Because of that it became important to identify all the actors that may be involved with our product and gather feedback on whatever ideas we come up with from each one.

3. Brainstorming more than one idea*

Brainstorming and agreeing on a single idea or problem area as a team is difficult. Because of that difficulty when you’ve chosen “the one,” your entire team is likely to have formed a firm bond to the idea/problem area. When user interviews roll around, the negative feedback will hurt, or even worse, go right over your heads. Blinded by your devotion, you might convince yourself that a product concept is impeccably crafted when every user interviewed out there has hinted the exact opposite. We came up with nine ideas that we guiltlessly cut down to six. Because we like all of our ideas, despite having favorites, we are significantly more open to feedback then if we only had one solid idea.

Like many of the other steps I’ve detailed in my previous weekly recaps, these have been crucial steps in arriving at a viable, useful, and hopefully successful solutions. The extensive month long process saves a lot more than a month in the long run. After all, if you can reduce the chance of creating a subpar product, you save yourself months of unproductive development.

*This step and the third step may happen concurrently.

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