On November 7th, Apply Digital teams in Vancouver and Toronto joined forces for our 2nd annual hackathon — a Hackathon for Good. This one-day event focused on finding tech solutions that have a tangible and far-reaching impact on social causes and issues identified by our team members. These focus areas spanned a range of subjects from environmental protection, education, and mental health to supporting vulnerable populations like the elderly, the homeless, and immigrants.
At Apply Digital, we always consider the way our products and projects benefit the wider community. Hackathon for Good took this one step further and gave our team the opportunity to focus solely on the issues and causes they care about. It allowed us to dig deep and get creative in order to find executable digital solutions that would have a lasting impact. The end goal of the Hackathon was to develop the winning project into a full-fledged digital product that would be gifted to a local non-profit organization.
Each team was created in a multi-disciplinary fashion true to Apply Digital’s approach to digital product development, but with two distinct differences. Firstly, the teams brought together colleagues who don’t typically get the chance to work together. Secondly, the teams only had eight hours to dissect and solve the problem, build a business plan that connected the solution to a digital product, define and brand the product, and then build a go-to-market plan. These unusual circumstances combined to push team members to take on unfamiliar roles as the process became a high-energy collaborative push to the finish line.
Top: Presentations; Left: Team "The Immies" whiteboard listing immigration problems; Middle: Team "Ripple" brainstorming; Right: Team "scholar.ly" brainstorming
At the end of the day, each of our 11 teams created ideas worthy of consideration by a jury led by Apply Digital’s Chief Strategist, Scott Michaels. However, there can only ever be one winner and this year The Immies proudly claimed that title.
This Vancouver-based team “Immies” made up of Jordan Christiansen, Susannah Poon, Michael Chen, Lara Hughes, and Tyler Nee took on the subject of supporting immigrant mothers. Immigrant mothers face the barriers of biased employers, not having their foreign professional experience recognized in Canada, and also being the primary caregiver for small children even while working.
Presentation and Judging
The Immies started their exploration of the subject by identifying a non-profit organization already working to support local immigrant women.
After speaking with this non-profit, The Immies learned about their social enterprise initiative, which opens up employment opportunities for this demographic of newcomers to Canada.
During this conversation, the Immies identified an opportunity to help this initiative grow and scale. The team created a strategic product development and marketing plan designed to improve website traffic, reduce overhead costs, develop community partnerships, and streamline a standardized online booking application.
The Immies’ idea stood out to the Hackathon judges for several reasons. By talking to a local non-profit, the team gained the insights needed to create a product that would efficiently and accurately solve real-world challenges. And not only did they have a strong product road map, but they also had robust launch and marketing plans in place to help the non-profit organization implement this digital tool.
Update: An appointment with success
Apply Digital worked with the Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) to bolster their Pop-Up Child Care Program — all free of charge.
With a new website and a streamlined booking system in place, PIRS is now set up for success as they continue to support immigrant women and their families.
You can learn more about our work with PIRS by reading our case study.