It’s early on Friday morning, October 19th, as we gather at the Pwfc Building. Today marks the start of the first ever Curaçao KickStart Innovathon, an event organized by CITI (Curaçao Innovation & Technology Institute) in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development. E-sites Caribbean will participate in this unique event to help promote innovation on Curaçao.
The Curaçao KickStart Innovathon is an ideation hackathon, an event where people from different backgrounds come together to work on a project for a few intense, caffeine-fueled hours or days. KickStart was organized to bring together technology and community and focus on creative problem-solving. The problem at hand: How can we kickstart the Curaçao economy and make life better for everyone?
For twelve straights hours, 17 teams came up with ideas and worked on disruptive solutions that actually make a difference. Competing against each other, but working together on one common solution: the future of Curaçao through innovation. E-sites Caribbean participated with a group of eight: a multidisciplinary team representing strategy, user experience, visual design, front-end, and back-end. Rocking our official E-sites shirts, we were stoked to get started and complete the challenge.
From left to right: Lindsey, Vincent, Sharon, Brian, Mauro, Ibo, Boye, Nihad
After a general kick-off of the event, we started the first phase and brainstormed about which problem we wanted to tackle. As a guideline, the organization offered five possible categories: People, Technology, Education, Economy, and Sustainability. We decided on a problem that covered multiple areas. Strategy and User Experience took the lead in this stage and helped us to connect the dots between several issues:
We did some further fine-tuning and came to a joint definition of our problem statement:
Curaçao needs healthy people who demand local sustainably farmed produce because the cost of healthcare is too high, the economy is stagnating and our environment is in danger! Demand and supply of local produce is not readily available.
How can innovation solve all these problems? We created Kultivá ('cultivate'), a digital marketplace for local farmers. By bridging the gap between local farmers and consumers, this online platform has the potential to help solve the issues. Local farmers have new ways to sell their products and are less reliant on other existing retail formulas. Consumers find access to locally grown and produced products, that often come at a cheaper price. And more people start to eat healthier, leading to healthier people, and – yes, you guessed it – eventually lower healthcare costs.
The idea of Kultivá was born. Now we had to bring it to life: in a mobile app to be exact. Time for wireframing, prototyping, and presentation. The clock was ticking, so everybody got assigned their task and got cracking. Our UX’er Lindsey started wireframing the app, Boye (front-end), Nihad and Mauro (back-end) started developing the app, and Brian started designing the presentation.
However, after some time we came to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough time for a workable app. The trick was not to let it bring us down, so we quickly changed the game plan. With wireframes done, Lindsey joined Vincent and Nihad to work on the presentation. Brian set out to design the app and make a nice, clickable prototype in Sketch.
Our very own Vincent had the honor of doing a 3-minute presentation to convince the jury and audience. After presenting in style and taking questions from the audience, he finished the pitch with a quick and spot-on answer to the jury’s question.
After all the pitches were done, the jury resigned, and the waiting began. While waiting, someone from the organization complimented us on our proper Silicon Valley-style pitch (Silicon Valley, here we come!).😎
At 9 PM the judges were ready to hand out their verdict in an award ceremony. There were 6 prizes to be handed out this evening: the people’s choice award, 2 best ideas for a government action, 2 best ideas for a business product or service, and 1 overall winner with the best idea.
We were sure that one of the 4 best ideas would win the grand prize, until we heard the jury call out “E-sites Caribbean”! It was so unexpected, half of the team didn’t even know it had happened. Whoohoo! WE WON, WE WON THE BEST IDEA OF THE DAY!
Besides winning the hackathon obviously, the Curaçao KickStart Innovathon really was a successful event. It was very inspiring to see the adrenaline-filled energy in the room and the enthusiasm of all the participants. The quality of the ideas and projects presented was high, and everybody truly walked away with new-found energy. Hopefully this energy will be channeled into turning some of the ideas into reality. It is events like these that stimulate innovation and collaboration, and it was awesome to be a part of it. See you next year!