Where did it all start?
Truth be told this started out of curiosity. Jesse and I are in the process of organizing a hackathon-like-program called an Ideathon and the knowledge gap was pretty clear. Neither of us had ever been to a hackathon, what the hell did we know? Do our ideas have any credibility? … how do other people do it?
So we decided to go to a hackathon as part of the research for the project we were working on and this is why we were at the GUD sponsored automotive hackathon, hosted by Startup Victoria.
Day 1: we show up on a Friday evening (11/05/2018), Jesse and I know each other - but who we didn't know - was literally anyone else. So we do what we always do, each the free pizza, have a beer, talk to random people, then sit through the presentations. Which in this case were explaining what the point of this hackathon was and set the context for the problems we would be attempting to solve.
Moments later we are instructed to “form teams”... there was no structure here, frankly speaking it was very uncomfortable and an awkward experience - not knowing anyone is bad enough but having to try to suss them out (skills) and work out if you want to spend 3 days with them (attitude) in the space of about 3 minutes... then rotate and do it again in a room of 40 people… it's not pleasant.
After the unpleasantries though, teams were formed, despite popular belief, Jesse and I were not on the same team. This is probably a good thing because I doubt you could find two other people who are so capable of talking endlessly for hours. For productivity reasons, being separate is a good thing in this scenario.
My team had: Belle, Romain, Jody and myself. Respectively: business dev, design, tech and … Krystian. What a combination of all stars! (+ Krystian)
We start by settling on ‘car servicing sucks, how to improve it” as our primary problem statement and starting thinking, spending the rest of the evening brainstorming ideas to fix this. Our initial idea, build a decentralized and authenticated “blockchain” ledger to give every car a verified history and make t easier to service a car or change mechanics (because the history was well known).
Day 2: we spent most of Saturday going through our idea and thinking it was an epic solution, we were on a roll, things were coming together, ideas were flowing, all was well.
But then one of the mentors came over and point out that for a number of reasons our idea wouldn't work, and then planted the seed of comparative cost analysis... This happened at about 3 pm, we were all on edge, fried, tired, in need of a break. So that's exactly what we did, Belle went to the gym and me and the guys went for a walk.
On the way back we thought… what if you could compare any car, not just new cars and then what if you could take the information which is already out there, the cost of actually running your car, combine it - verify it and give people this information when they were looking to buy a new car.
Going beyond just the finance, rego and fuel costs, what if you take into account insurance, depreciation, trending servicing fees... TrueCOW (because of the: True Cost of Owning Wheels) was born.
The seed had grown and we now had a new idea. We spent the rest of the night working on it.
Day 3: game day, so far it had been a roller coaster, it took a lot of thinking, talking, discussing, disagreeing, as well as brainwave ideas, inspirations, jokes, laughter and more. But we had an idea and at 1 pm we had to pitch it to the judges.
1 pm: we were fourth on the list to present, we go up, we present, we sit down. A follow-up team gives a live-streamed demonstration of a working MVP for their application. Another team demonstrates a wildly out there idea for utilizing the hardware within cars. We panic and think… what is going on here they just did a live freaking video demonstration and we have a cartoon cow...
The GUD lady comes up, we sit on the edge of our seats. At heart I struggle between being super lazy and super competitive in this case - there’s a prize - so I want to win.
“And the winner is... TrueCOW!”
We won. It was amazing, it was shocking, the first-ever hackathon I’d ever been part of and my team managed to win. It was awesome. Everyone wanted to talk to us, people wanted to be in business with us, we got invited to pitch again, we got invited to other things. It was an epic day and an epic weekend.