GMDSP Lean Startup Weekend – Part 1

The GMDSP Lean Startup Weekend kicked off promptly at 9am on Saturday morning at the “Shed” – part of MMU in Central Manchester. The Digital Catapult team comprising myself and colleagues Uros Strel Lencic and Mark Bowler had arrived the night before to help set up the event and work with Future Everything and the Future Cities Catapult. A fantastic agenda of activities was awaiting the keen and eager participants. By 09:15 the room was filled with 52 enthused and energised individuals…

Lean Startup Weekend 1

Team Shaping Cloud creating their SC Beacon

The purpose of the hack event was to solve a number of key challenges previously identified during previous focus group workshops and events. The five challenges up for grabs were:

  • How might we encourage more sustainable economic development?
  • How might we assist the provision of public services?
  • How might we empower citizens to enhance their neighbourhood?
  • How might we make mobility more inclusive?
  • How might we make city planning more collaborative?

Some of the teams came with fully formed ideas and were encouraged to challenge the assumptions on which these ideas were based on by following the design methodology.

By combining the previously unexposed civic datasets now made freely available through the GMDSP portal, with the expertise, imagination and coding skills of the individuals and SMEs who attended the event, it is anticipated that some great commercially viable propositions will result. The prize fund, which is in excess of £25K, includes nine days’ worth of development, data analysis and UX/UI consultancy and effort. This makes the hack event unique in the sense that winning ideas and propulsions can be taken forward to a high level of MVP and will be one step closer to becoming a commercial service.

Based on the expertise of the participants, teams were put together by the organisers to ensure that each group had at least a developer, a usability expert, an ideator and someone with commercial business experience. As the morning unfolded, individuals were of course welcome to change teams but on the whole the teams were happy with the setup.

As the overall theme of the event was “Lean Startup”, great emphasis was put on the subject of validating the idea, understanding the target users and understanding their pain points. As such the first day was structured to ensure that each team went through a series of validation steps.

  • Select a challenge theme & brainstorm ideas
  • Select a proposition
  • Identify the end user groups
  • Through further desk based research refine these groups
  • Develop a set of assumptions to be validated
  • Test assumptions through face to face surveys (on the slightly rainy Saturday afternoon), survey calls and additional data analysis
  • Pivot their ideas based on their end user research
  • Refined the proposition and present back to the entire team
Lean Startup Weekend 2

Team Volunteering Squad

We held regular feedback sessions. These were designed to be a stepping off point for the teams – a chance to reflect and refocus their ideas. Throughout the day, staff from FutureEverything and the Catapults acted as mentors to guide the participants through the various stages as well as to offer expertise and insights as required.

In addition we had a live video link up with an open data event in Winchester called the Open Data Camp. The team there could be used to validate ideas and provide additional datasets and data analysis skills.

By the end of the first day there were nine seriously tangible concepts being put together…and the last person left the first day at 9pm for a well-deserved beer!

Peter Karney is the Head of Platform Usability and Support at the Digital Catapult. You can follow him on Twitter @pjcoolk.

You can discover more about Future Everything’s Lean Startup Weekend by reading Part 2 of Peter’s report

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