Catalyzing the growth of the Kenya tech community

Geek Girl Hackathon

By Joseph
iHub
  Published 19 Aug 2012
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What would happen if we put a group of women in one place and asked them to come up with applications that would be relevant to them in 48 hours? Akirachix together withMobile Garagetook on this exciting experiment.
"We have never done this before and know that we will get relevant and interesting applications," saidJudith Owigar, President, Akirachix, during the event.
The first ever all girl hackathon, dubbed GirlApp 2012 in Kenya was held at the iHub Nairobi between 18th and 19th August, hosted by AkiraChix.

Akirachix GirlApp2012

The aim of this event was:-

  • To bring together women from different disciplines to co-create prototype solutions that can address the challenges girls and women face in their day to day lives.
  • Jump start the design process for the creation of apps that target women and girls
  • Just have fun as we code
The event kicked off with an interesting ice breaker, led by AkiraChix president, Judith Owigar. To illustrate how closely connected we all are, yarns of wool were thrown around a circle from one participant to another, forming an interesting pattern.

Leo Mutuku and Anne Salim of iHub Research then led participants through an intensive design thinking session that went through to lunchtime. The aim of the session was to design a lady’s ideal wallet.

The stages of design thinking participants were taken through included:-

  1. Empathy: Understanding your users’ needs. Participants had to interview each other to figure out what their partners’ ideal wallet would be. This stage involved figuring out what needs the ideal wallet would address
  2. Reframe the problem: This stage involved capturing findings from the previous stage, and formulating a problem statement based on those findings. E.g  I keep loosing my lipbalm in my handbag, I don’t have enough space for photographs in my wallet, I don’t have enough space for business cards in my wallet
  3. Ideate: This stage involved sketching out five radical ideas of solving the user’s problem, i.e coming up with rough sketches of how the user’s ideal wallet would look like and then sharing the solutions with the users. Users would consequently share feedback that would be captured by the designer
  4. Build and Test: This stage involved making an ideal wallet. This session tapped into the participants’ creativity, as they had to make wallet prototyped based on feedback given by their intended users, using simple material like manila paper and glue. Of course this was loads of fun.
AkiraChix GeekGirl at GirlApp 2012 Ideating
After lunch, the heavy duty work began. This session involved brainstorming on ideas to be worked on for the duration of the hackathon.

AkiraChix GeekGirl at GirlApp 2012

The three main ideas that were settled on involved:-

Health and Fitness for young women.

  1. Weight Watchers built a J2ME based application that would provide healthy weight watch plans. The application determines users’ body mass index (BMI) based on height, weight and duration an individual would be looking to shed/gain weight, and then drafts up a weight watch plan. It would indicate to you how much weight you need to lose/gain within the period of time that you'd be looking to work out for, and would also send you your diet plan via SMS.
  2. Diet app B, also known as Fitness Group approached this problem from a different angle, incorporating fitness and lifestyle change as well. Their application was web based, and also available on the Android Market.
Style and Fashion

1. StyleMe built a QT based application that would help ladies match their outfits based on their wardrobe collection. The general aim was to help ladies save time on choosing what to wear, by allowing them upload photos of their wardrobe collection, and then matching different items of clothing. The application helps you plan out what outfits to put on by marking them on the calendar, effectively helping one plan out their style for the week, and also keep track of outfits worn during past events. They plan on having it on the Android market as well

2. In cases where ladies are looking for things to buy online, they have to do a lot of searching(picture multiple browser tabs open, searching for the perfect design). Window Shoppers attempted to make this process easier, by building on online portal/search engine that would aggregate information from different online shops, allowing sellers advertise their products, and making it easier for lady shoppers to find items they would like to buy. It was likened to Amazon and eBay, minus the sales aspect.

Women in Tech Outreach

1. Qtech were the only group that tackled this particular issue. The aim of their Android application and web based solution is to keep women in tech updated on relevant events, provide mentorship and encourage participation. Qtech gives ladies interested in tech access to outreach programs they can participate in, updates them on upcoming events revolving around women in tech, as well as helping match ladies interested in tech with mentors in the industry. They also incorporated mapping in their application.

AkiraChix GeekGirl at GirlApp 2012 Problem Definition

And the Winners Are...

It was definitely difficult for the judges to pick on the winning applications, as this was an impressive show of team work, determination and commitment on the part of the participants. The ladies stayed up all night to showcase their prototypes, after 36 grueling hours. General advice from the judges revolved around the teams figuring out their business models and sustainability of their solutions, as well as proper presentation/pitching.

After much deliberation, the judges verdict was delivered. First place went to QTech, winning themselves KES 75,000/=, followed by StyleME who won KES 50,000/=. 3RD place went to Weight Watchers, who won KES 25,000/=. 4th and 5th place went to Diet Group B aka Fitness app and Window Shoppers respectively, who did not go home empty handed and received KES 5,000/= each for their participation.

The event was a definite success, being a good mix of fun and hacking. There were points of intense and stressful work, which would require sessions of intense fun, as illustrated in the picture below, where the GirlApp attendees broke out into dance, to the tunes of Azonto by Fuse ODG feat. Tiffany J.

Akirachix

All participants should be proud of themselves for taking part in the hackathon, and are winners in all respect. This should not be the end, but only the beginning, and we hope that these ideas will be taken a notch further, building sustainable solutions that will be available in the market for all to try out.

AkiraChix would like to thank iHub for their continued support by providing the space to conduct GirlApp 2012, iHub Research for leading the Design Thinking session, Levi Wanyoike for the awesome photography, and Pete’s coffee for the constant supply of caffeine and food to boost the girls’ energy!

For anyone interested in mentoring, investing, or even just having a chat with the female developers who participated in the event, feel free to send an email to info@akirachix.com and we’ll be happy to link you up.

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