Hacking the way forward in supply chain transparency

September 12, 2018

Participating in a hackathon to build new ideas was the goal; winning it was the cherry on top. And that’s what happened to the TolaData team when some of us took part in a hackathon on supply chain transparency, jointly organised by N3XTCODER, Zalando SE, Volkswagen Group, and Adidas. Read on to find out what went down that day!

Held on 30 August 2018 at the Zalando BMO Innovation Lab in Berlin, Germany, this hackathon was the second in a series aimed at creating sustainable solutions for consumption and production in supply chains.

Teams from six social enterprises took part in the hackathon, and ours was made up of our co-founder Andrew Pham, CEO Kathrin Wieland, German Key Account Manager Malte Hoepfner, and Data Scientist Prabhant Singh. On that day, they met with 10 other talented professionals from backgrounds ranging in software development and design, to product and marketing for the first time to tackle the following three challenges:

  1. To build a feature into our open source indicator library to enable it to suggest more relevant indicators — out of nearly 2,500 commonly used by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and donors — to our users.

  2. To design a user-friendly interface that makes filtering and navigating these indicators easy for our users, to aid them in selecting the appropriate ones for their organisation or project.

  3. To craft a marketing strategy to effectively engage with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments and social enterprises to implement digital impact monitoring, using our platform.

To say that our team had a productive time at the hackathon was an understatement. Within a few hours, those working on the technical challenges (1 and 2) had mapped out a “happy flow” — the shortest path for both consumers and producers of the system to get to where they wish to be, and designed several wireframes and mockups of TolaData’s homepage and indicator page. For the marketing challenge, the team focused on revising our approach to the private sector and sketched out a user journey based on a persona, with three key messages focused on that user’s needs.

Sounds like a lot for a day? Wait till you hear what else they got up to! Thanks to an AR expert on the team, they even went the extra mile and came up with a new feature that gamified the user experience. Imagine earning badges for adding every 10th indicator. Or seeing words of encouragement and fireworks flash across the screen of your mobile phone whenever it recognises one of the badges you’ve earned on the TolaData platform. Whoa!

Although we may not see ourselves implementing that into our product anytime yet, it was nevertheless amazing to witness the spectrum of fresh ideas and possibilities that emerged from the hackathon.

Says Andrew, “Now that the hackathon is over, our next steps would be to try and integrate some of the work we’ve accomplished back into our application, and decide if we’ll take part in the next hackathon in November. I’ve really enjoyed working with a group of very talented product managers and developers today — ones whom I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to work with — and it’s great to see that such talent exists here in Berlin.”

Echoing his positive sentiments about the hackathon was Kathrin, who was impressed with the feedback and learnings she got from “a diverse and high quality group of different backgrounds, expertise, and cultures”. Moving forward, she looks forward to working closely with CSR departments in using TolaData to report on the impact they make with regards to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As the winners of the hackathon, our team received a copy of ‘A World of Three Zeros’, written by revered Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, as well as two days of technical support and mentoring from N3XTCODER.

A big “Thank you!” to the organisers for this valuable opportunity and a strong round of applause to the wonderful talents in our team for working with us to make this happen! 👏🏆

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