Wednesday, August 17, 2016

If you're a girl you need to know about THINX

I've been following this rad company for a while now and I finally made the move to try out their PANTIES! In fact, I first heard of them when I went to Socialight Conference two years ago and had the fantastic opportunity to hear Miki Agrawal speak.

So what's so special about this company and PANTIES? Well you might not believe it if I told you, but imagine being pads/tampons free during your periods - this is what I'm talking about!

THINX is disrupting the feminine hygiene space with their liquid resistant panties made for that time of the month.  You can check out how it works here!

Not convinced they're cool? Here are my reasons for loving them:

    • Not only are they help us girls be free from our pads and tampons during that time, they're also helping reduce the tons of period-related waste that goes on each month! (i.e. disposable pads and tampons!!...or even that ruined underwear!!! )
    • SAVE MONEY on your period needs!! It just doesn't make sense to
    • Look sexy.  No more bulging panties like you're wearing a diaper!!

And best of all... you get to try it with you me and SAVE $10 dollars! 

I just got mine and patiently waiting for it in the mail! Look out for my review of it soon! AND...what this video!

So what's your excuse?

What you should expect at your first ProtoHack

My first ProtoHack was successful one, in so many different ways.  But before I went to one, I had no idea what to expect.  Only the fact that I was going to this event (alone-ish) scared me a little,  but then when I found out that a few people that I know would be there, it calmed me a little.  As it turns out, this was one of the most welcoming event I have been to, so don't worry if you plan on going alone!

The ProtoHack was well organized with their own Slack group for people to connect before the event and also a mixer on the day before for people to meet up, pitch their ideas and perhaps form their team.  I didn't get a chance to attend the mixer, but I had no issues finding a team and connecting with people.

When it came to finding your team, it really was just by luck who you end up with and completely random if you don't know anyone there.  Even though I knew some people there, I went out on a limb because  I guess I was feeling adventurous that day and I also wanted to give this event a fair chance and experience it fully.  With that said, team dynamic can get a bit interesting if you end up with people that have strong personalities or have different personality than you in general. This is really part of the experience when you team up with complete strangers for one whole day!

There was also a friendly reminder at the beginning of the event about this too - be respectful and play nice =)

So what if you don't find a team? I really don't think that would be an issue.  Teams did have a limit of four people, but there were also people that really wanted to soak in the experience from afar.  There were also people that couldn't attend the whole day, so there is a bit of flexibility on that.
For the serious ones, ProtoHack really knows how to keep you focused and nourished with a kitchen stocked with snack and refreshments, 3 full meals and some creative juice (beer) throughout the day.
One thing that surprised me and made me feel at ease was the environment that we were "competing" in.  Even though we had pitches and judges, it was all very friendly and nobody took it too seriously.  Before this, I was always very shy about sharing my ideas - probably because they were always in my head - but I was completely at ease sharing our ideas and concepts with everybody.  Maybe it was the fact that we all believed in the idea that I felt confident in presenting it in front of a audience

So what happens after you pitch your idea with your group? What if we want to take it further? That's a very good idea.  One that we were faced at the end since we had such great feedback from it.  Well, as much as our team liked our idea and concept, nobody loved it enough to take it further.  This made it easy for us to part ways and saved us from any complications.  With that said, we as a team did debrief after and hashed out the details just to make sure we haven't missed anything.

So if you're looking for a day of creativity, ProtoHack's the place to be!

What is a ProtoHack? My first code-free hackathon (Part 3)

After a day of hacking, I was mentally drained!  My first Protohack (read Part 1 and 2 here!) was almost at it's end.

Coming into this event, I had no expectation and came in with an open heart and open mind - I just wanted to get into a team and absorb as much as I can from this experience.  We were on a tight schedule so we just went through the motions after we finalized our concept and worked, worked, worked!  So when they announced that our team came in top 5, I was surprised to be honest!  After our 90 sec pitch, I was actually ready to just sit back and enjoy the rest of the presentations.  Our whole team was surprised to be honest - we actually haven't though past our pitch and now we had 5 mins on stage for a Q&A with the judges!

At this point, I was scrambling on my computer to prep for potential questions from the judges.  Our five minutes for Q&A was a blur, we improvised, but I think our team pulled it together pretty well!

Even though we thought we did ok for the amount of prep we had for the questions, we really didn't expect our results.  We were yet again surprised when it was announced we placed 3rd in the whole event!

With the expectation I had going in, this day had turned into quite an adventure and full of surprises.  By far the most exciting part was being able to find like minded to people to hack with and have insightful and productive conversations.

What amazes me the most is that this event brought people who might not have otherwise crossed paths together in one place.  People from all walks of life showed up, with different background and interests, but the common interest to innovate brought people together to collaborate.
The funny thing is my team actually didn't know much about each other, other than our names for the majority of the day.  We only got to know each other AFTER the event was done.  We were so focused on completing our project, that that was all we talked about.  It amazes me how people can come together through a passion for something!

It was definitely a very satisfying (long) day - I got to meet new people, work on something I was passionate about, exercised by creativity and left feeling accomplished at the end of the day.  I highly recommend people to try this out and meet this community of innovative people!
We are now due to have an interview Natural Resources Canada and who knows what the result of this 12 hour event will lead to next!

Want to know what to expect for your first Protohack? More on our next blog post

What is a ProtoHack? My first code-free hackathon (Part 2)

If you've read my previous post about my first ProtoHack, then you know that we were working on solving the problem of the lack of garden space/community garden spots in our GreenCity themed ProtoHack.  After a brainstorming session and some discussion, we decided that the solution to our problem would be an AirBNB for garden space.

To be honest, I'm don't quite remember how we landed on this idea, the whole day had become a blur! All I remember was that we had discussed about our interest in urban farming and that led to my experience in community gardens. Looking back, I think this idea was a success because it is a real issue in our lives and it only takes a (somewhat) simple solution to fix it.

During our hacking we were offered mentor sessions which I thought was a great way for us to get feedback on our idea. Types of mentors available included people in Industry, Design and Pitch. These short 15 mins sessions were great to keep us laser focused on things we needed to work on in the short amount of time we had.  Once we got the feedback that we needed, we spent the remainder of the time building our prototype, which was the mock website (we did this using Wix - and easy drag and drop website builder) and attempt to perfect our 90 sec pitch.  We worked our way through dinner, (which was provided by Chipotle - Protohack really did pamper and fully nourish us the whole day- Thank you!) revised our pitch multiple times and came up with our name - Gardenhood.  Believe it or not, it took us a while to settle on a name we liked.  We wanted one that matched our concept and give an idea of what our concept was about - I mean first impression is every in 90 sec. right?  Our tagline? "Find your garden at your Neighbours'".

Our concept was simple - People in the city are now mostly living in condos, which lacked garden space for them to grow crops or flowers.  Community gardens are available, but from my experience, they aren't very many around, and if there is, there's probably a wait-list to get in.  We tried to solve this by providing a service - the AirBNB of gardens - by allowing detached home owners to rent out their front/back lawns to condo dwellers in the area that are interested in gardening.

Like AirBNB, our web service allow hosts (people renting out their lawns) to set how much land they want to rent out, their price for their property and preference of gardens they'd prefer.  In addition to property listings, we also want to create a community for gardeners and hosts with profiles of individuals.  This not only allow participants to connect through their gardening interest, but also for hosts to decide if they want to rent out their lawn to a gardener based on their experience level.

Our business model is identical to AirBNB, we take a commission of each rental transaction.  We've also decided to add a Shop area to our revenue structure to supplement our commission structure.  By partnering with local garden suppliers, the shop acts as an ad platform for us as well as a platform for affiliate sales.

We thought our concept fits in the GreenCity theme because it also aligns with City of Vancouver's Greenest City by 2020 goals! This concepts helps with accomplishing goals like the Green Economy, Zero Waste, Access to Nature and Local Food targets.

Before we knew it, it was time to present to the judges!  We had 90 seconds to get our concept across with a prototype of our platform.  During this time we were judged on our Concept, Business Model, Design and Presentation.  This part was actually my favourite, not because we got to present, but because I got to see what other teams have been working on!  At this point, I was just amazed at how many innovative ideas were floating around in the room and how amazing these events are for bringing creative people together.

So, what did the judges think of our concept? I'll be posting that in my next blog post!

What is a ProtoHack? My first code-free hackathon (Part 1)

Have you ever wondered what a ProtoHack is? Well, I did, and I decided to join one over the weekend!
ProtoHack is, in short, a hackathon for for non-coders (where traditional hackathons are for coders and technical people).  It allows non-coders to come together with their skills and knowledge to bring their ideas to life through prototyping.  It gives you 12 hours to form a group, decide on an idea and communicate your idea visually for a judging session in the end.  They have Prothacks events in many different cities and I attended the Vancouver one held at the new co-working space, Spacekraft
If you want to find out more about ProtoHack, go read their FAQ!

My day at the protohack started at 9:30am (a bit too early for me on a Saturday!), but I was excited to see how this day would unfold.  I went in with an open mind and just a mentality to say "yes" to new things.    I didn't have any ideas in mind, so that I gave myself and opportunity to join any team that I could get into.  My goal was to absorb as much as I can during this day.

To start off the ProtoHack, we had an intro about the organization and the theme of this ProtoHack, which was GreenCity.  It was followed by a keynote by Will from BokoEco to inspire us before we broke off to mingle, find our team and grab a few bites to eat (oh yea, did I mention that they feed us too??).  Before the mingling started, people that came with an idea had the opportunity to pitch their ideas and get their "ask" where they can ask for specific skill sets for the project or just interested in joining.   After some mingling and bouncing ideas around, I found my team.  At this stage, the team didn't have an concrete idea yet, but we had a few ideas that everybody liked so we decided to team up and decide.

During this event, there were two Breakout sessions.  We took a break from our brainstorming to attend presentations by Envisioning Labs and Resource Works. I was actually really interested in what Resource Works is doing in trying to educate people about the sector - mostly because of my experience in the natural resource sector (maybe more about that in another post!).
At this point, it was already lunch time - the day was going by so fast!  We had a fast lunch and it was crunch time.  We narrowed down our ideas and decided on one that we thought we would be able to accomplish with the amount of time we had left.  We also went with one that the concept was easiest to understand.  In the end, we decided to tackle the problem for the lack of garden space/community garden spots in the city.

Want to know how we solved this problem? More in the next post