A while ago I participated in Atlanta Start Up Weekend. Start Up Weekend is all about pitching an idea, forming a team and building it within 54 hours. My Big Idea was to create an iPhone app that tracked a runners race results. I pitched my idea and was selected as one of the finalist.
After forming my team, the iPhone app turned into an Android app (because I ended up with Android developers on my team and had only 54 hours to make this idea come to life). So all the iPhone sketches and specific UI I had previously come to the table with now had to be turned into a more Android friendly UI.
Design Thinking & Methodology
I defined the target audience for the app as the “Running Enthusiast = 2 Million + runners”. Not the runner who does a 5K every now and again, but the Runner that trains a good part of year for multiple 10Ks, half marathons and beyond.
Our biggest challenge was, validating the idea and making sure we had a product that people actually wanted. After several user interviews and surveys (we hit up the closest local running store to get some participants) our direction changed a bit to focus on the intangibles and variables rather than the actual race result. The users we interviewed saw more value in this rather than just race results. The perceived user behavior we had expected was incorrect. We never would have realized this had we not taken the time to do the foot work (user research) even seeing that we had very limited time.
So the focus shifted to helping runners improve their race time and running satisfaction through tracking and the correlation of impacting patterns & behaviors.
At the end of the day our valuable asset is the Data. Data that’s valuable to the user and data that we believe to be valuable to relevant vendors such as Gu, Powerade, Nike, and Track Clubs.
What we were essentially tracking, is a recipe. Your own personal awesome sauce that helps lead you to a better performance.
Execution & Results
Equipped with a huge whiteboard and sheets of paper, we sketched and talked out the major user flows and interface components. We answered the following questions: How will the user move from screen to screen? What’s the most important thing? Can we simplify that?
I sketched out the user flow and interface then worked with my visual designer to get some comps nailed down. In addition I designed a few screens, as time was so limited. My 2 developers coded out the core screens in a live Android app. We were basically a mini scrum team and even had stand up every 3-4 hours.
The final presentation was well received by the judges and audience. We had 4 minutes to show our stuff and prove that we had a viable product. I presented to a room of over 100 (my biggest audience up to that point).
Overall the experience was great. I was stressed out, inspired, invigorated, all at the same time. It showed me that a few good people can do Big Things Fast. It showed me how to cut the fluff and get to the core. It showed me that I can Finish Big!