In preparation for the upcoming CityHack17 in July, we thought it was time to take a look back at one of the teams from CityHack16 who really showed what the weekend is all about – coming together to develop a technology solution to a current city challenge.
Since last year’s event, the EventCipher team has been working hard to develop an idea into a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) ready for launch into the community events market.
Congratulations to one of the EventCipher team members, Bon Tin who has recently been announced as one of the Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program winners. Congratulations to Bon on this fantastic achievement.
Cecily Canning, CityHack Event Manager, sat down with EventCipher to find out a bit more about their experience at CityHack16 and what they’ve gone on to do since the event.
Interview with EventCipher from CityHack16
Cecily – Can you tell us about how and where you all met?
: Two of the team members were friends, another two were married and the remaining two came to the event separately. The team was officially formed on the first day of CityHack16. The two who were friends pitched an idea at the initial pitching on Friday night, and the others chose to join them.
Cecily: So, what was your original pitch?
: The original pitch was to create a platform where event companies could collaborate to organise events and therefore offer unique experiences to the local community.
Cecily:You apparently pivoted (changed direction in your ideas) a few times during the weekend – tell me about that?
Yes, quite a few times actually! Our last pivot was at about 9am on the Sunday morning – on the day of the pitch. The last few hours were very stressful trying to get a lot of data and finalise the presentation. We were quite happy with the outcome. Since then, we’ve pivoted a few more times to get to where we are now.
Cecily: How did you come up with the idea of working with Brisbane City Council to help develop their site?
: It was while we were actually researching our ideas and started looking at the Brisbane City Council approvals and information website, that we realised how complicated it was and that’s a large part of where the idea came from.
Cecily: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve experienced since CityHack16?
Initially we thought one of our biggest challenges going to be with Brisbane city Council as our solution relies on cooperation with Council in order to make it work. But we have found them to be very supportive, allowing us access to the information and the time required to work through these points. So we would say that funding and resources are now the most difficult challenges for us. Working out what the available funding sources are and how to approach and utilise them is a real challenge. We’re really looking forward to utilising the prize we won at CityHack16 with time in The Capital where we hope to find answers to some of these big challenges.
Another big challenge is we started off not knowing anyone in the industry in Brisbane. This means, we need to invest time to reach out to the right people within the space and get to know ‘who is who in the zoo’. Spending time at The Capital will really help connect us with the local start up ecosystem.
Cecily: What are your future plans?
Once the early adopters begin to use the platform on a basic level, we can begin to enhance the capability and predictability of the site.
Cecily: How many coders are there in your team?
: We have two coders. One of our team members is a back-end developer and the other one is a front-end developer. However, they are both doing their best to operate as full-stack developers to help build our solution.
Cecily: How have you found working together as a group considering most of you only met at the Hackathon and didn’t know each other before and you’ve come from a really varied background of skills and experience?
We generally have a lot of fun and that’s such an important thing. Working together in the team has been fantastic! We’ve all gelled well and our skills are really complementary. We have split into a business team and a technical team and we work in tandem on the different elements. We are very good at resolving issues and keeping everyone on the same page. When we pivot, we ensure that team members are involved and engaged at decision making crossroads and understand why we are moving in a certain direction. In addition, everyone has been really considerate of each team members’ other commitments, such as travel, study, work and family.
Cecily: Have you been able to keep up the enthusiasm working in your group and how do you keep yourselves excited about your ideas?
We’ve actually gotten more excited about our idea as we’ve progressed along. The more people we speak to, the more validation we have for our idea and we have people telling us that they want it to be live now. Feedback from potential users like this really helps to keep us motivated and moving forward. We have also achieved some key milestones along the way with a couple of presentations to Brisbane City Council teams and AECOM that have kept us focused by giving us targets to work towards.
Cecily: After the CityHack16 weekend, when you started working together, did you need to set up any kind of group charter or agreement on how you would work together?
No, not initially. We’re really lucky that our group has just worked really well and we’ve all been happy with how it has turned out. Once we won the Brisbane City Council prize at CityHack16, the next day, we emailed around to ask who was in and who was out. In the early months, we met every Saturday to flesh out our ideas. And now that things are taking shape, we have a working agreement between all of us in terms of how the partnership works.
Cecily: You’ve had pivots along the way, but are there other constant new ideas coming up?
One of the best things we’ve done is define our target audience and what our solution is. This has helped us to stay focused on what we’re trying to achieve. Once we decided we are mostly focused on the compliance side of organising events,that minimised distractions.
Cecily:Have you had any tools that have made it easier for you to work as a group?
We have used that to store and share documents. One night, three of us even used it to live edit the document with changes and feedback.
We communicate with Slack and a number of other channels.
InDesign and Photoshop.
We used the design software to produce visual aids and elements for presentations.
We used that to design a mock-up of our solution
Cecily: Have you identified any areas where you’ll need to upskill?
Yes, coding. Two of our team members are enrolled in a course to help perfect their coding skills! We’re also enhancing our data analytics and machine learning capabilities. And additional upskilling will be required in the area of digital marketing, especially when the product is going through its MVP stages and prior to full product launch.
Cecily: What are your plans moving forward?
We have a 12 month plan. The time in The Capital has helped us get ready for July where we can begin to show the platform and get feedback on our ideas. We have begun creating partnerships with businesses that are going to be using the platform. We’ll also be working closely with Brisbane City Council to ensure that we can achieve what we want to with their input. Our aim is to launch the platform in January 2018.
Cecily: How will you commercialise this product?
We have four potential customers that we’ll generate revenue from – event organisers, event suppliers, venues and regulatory bodies. For event organisers we envisage charging a subscription or fee per event potentially with different pricing levels depending on the nature of the event and size of the organisation. For regulatory bodies, we are exploring fees per compliance application submitted. And for event suppliers and venues, we are looking at a revenue model similar to AirBnB where we will charge a percentage for supplier and vendor contracts.
Thanks to EventCipher for their willingness to share their journey into the start-up space which all began at CityHack16. We are looking forward to finding more similar stories at CityHack17 in July. Thankyou also to our event partner Brisbane City Council for their involvement and support of EventCipher and CityHack.