The Fetch Blog

The best events and reads for professionals

Event review: She Hacks – Australia’s first female-focused hackathon — March 30, 2014

Event review: She Hacks – Australia’s first female-focused hackathon

She Hacks Melbourne - Yishan Chan Photography
Yishan Chan Photograph

Kat Loughrey recently caught up with She Hacks runner-up Jackie Antig, on her first-time hackathon experience.

If you somehow missed it, Melbourne recently played host to its first ever all female hackathon called She Hacks. Girl Geek Dinners ran the event with the aim of bringing together groups of women across different skill sets to engage in collaborative computer programming. The theme was ‘Communities & Neighbourhoods’ and each group was provided the space, and support via industry mentors, to develop and nurture an app concept in less than 24 hours. As a mentor, I was suitably impressed by the creativity, ideas and sheer determination by the teams to produce a high quality product and prototype within this tight timeframe.

Selling out within a week and with the participant’s donations going to One Girl, the event was definitely a huge success and a big win for local women in tech. It showcased just how many talented women there are locally – and generated positive media coverage in the process.

To ensure success within the teams, each group was required to include three different skill sets: think Hipster (designer), Hacker (programmer) and Hustler (marketing and business – growth hacker). The Fetch Community Ambassador Jackie Antig assumed the hipster role within her team, and shared with me her recommended tips and insights on presenting at a hackathon.

What inspired you to participate in She Hacks?

I’ve been wanting to participate at a hackathon for years, but I didn’t have the courage to before. I am a bit of a shapeshifter across product feature development, communication and design for technology but I only know how to do a couple meagre lines of code (that may change in the future). I had falsely assumed that you had to be a true-bred coder in order to be a successful participant at a hack. She Hacks did a particularly swell job at rolling out the welcome mat for all backgrounds.

Of course, the focus on supporting and promoting women in technology was the biggest draw. One of the roads to closing the gender gap in the sector is skill development. Another road is building up confidence by being challenged and overcoming the challenges in a wicked smart, supportive environment. Girl Geek Dinners Melbourne and She Hacks takes care of both ends.

In making your final pitch, each team only had three mins to present. How did you find this and working with the team, to pull a presentation together with limited time?

In the beginning we were quite ambitious about the amount of information we were going to fold into the pitch. Our early time trials proved we needed to pare down. We prioritised defining the problem statement clearly, our product prototype demo and the storyline about how it addressed the problem statement. We sacrificed the gory details about business forecasting and sustainability but had a feeling that the judges would likely tease those elements out in the question round.

There’s so much you could include but with limited time, what are the top five things you’d recommend that you should make sure to include in your presentation?

Problem, solution, empathy, feedback, and actionable idealism.

Identify a clear-cut problem, design a solution driven by empathy and test your assumptions. Display a sense of actionable idealism; dream up something wild but show you know how to break it up into realistic bite-sized pieces and steps.

I noticed that most groups used slides and visuals. What do you think are “must-haves” in the way of visuals for your presentation?

Minimalism and impact.

She Hacks had an impressive panel of judges (see list here). Knowing who they would be, did that change the way your team decided to present? What do you think the judges were looking for from the teams?

We kept their background separate from our approach. The three minute time limit was the cracking whip against our backs.

I would say they seemed to be evaluating feasibility and real-world application.

Best part of the pitch presentation?

The rush to get up and tell everyone about what we came up with.

Worst part of the pitch presentation?

The nagging feeling we forgot to mention something important.

Would you participate in a hackathon again where you need to present/pitch?

Absolutely! Already searching for the next one.

What advice would you give to others doing a hackathon for the first time and for women considering participating in next year’s She Hacks?

You have the chops!

She Hacks - Wake Up Dress Up team - Yishan Chan Photography
The ‘Wake Up Dress Up’ app team with their runner up awards – Quinnie Chen, Jude Gammie, Jackie Antig. (Image credit: Yishan Chan Photography)

Your team came second, congratulations! So what’s next for your app idea: ‘Wake Up Dress Up‘?

Thank you! We’re trying our best to follow through on actionable idealism. We will be doing a healthy dose of evaluating the morning routine needs of women and the current relationship-building models local fashion designers currently engage in with their customers through a combination of data gathering and ongoing conversation.

We also need a mobile developer on board. Drop a hello our way via Twitter if want to learn more or are interested in pitching in:

SheHacks 2014 Melbourne from Inspire9 on Vimeo.

Thanks to the She Hacks official photographer, Yishan Chan Photography, for the photos. See her full gallery here from the event.

About our Curator // Kat Loughrey is the Melbourne Curator of The Fetch, a community where professionals can discover and share what’s happening in their city. Originally from Brisbane, via Japan, Kat now lives in Melbourne – a digital content strategist by day and explorer of Melbourne’s digital/tech, arts and music scenes by night. Follow her on Twitter at @KatLoughrey & @thefetchMELB

Product Review: Three Thousand Thieves coffee subscription — June 23, 2013

Product Review: Three Thousand Thieves coffee subscription

This week, latte drinker Kat Loughrey, trialled the new coffee-driven startup, Three Thousand Thieves, to discover the joys of quality artisan coffee being carefully selected and delivered right to your door.

An insight into a Three Thousand Thieves coffee box
An insight into a Three Thousand Thieves coffee box.

You’re not Melburnian if you don’t drink coffee, right? I’ve always enjoyed a coffee from a cafe, however the notion of making coffee at home or the office had always been lost on me – that is until I brewed my own high quality coffee, courtesy of Three Thousand Thieves, causing a stir around the office with the alluring smell wafting down the hall, and in return brought many interested faces to my door.

“We are a service that compliments your existing coffee habit, not competes with it.”

Three Thousand Thieves is a monthly coffee discovery subscription, best described as a wine club for coffee. Every month, they hunt down and curate Melbourne’s best artisan roasters, and then deliver it straight to your door – either as coffee beans or ground coffee. Most roasters offer subscriptions of their own brands, but what makes Three Thousand Thieves unique says founder Athan Didaskalou, is that they are the first to bring them all together and offer something different each month in your delivery.

The experience: The moment the box arrived at my office, the tantalising smell of the coffee beans was the first thing you notice. Once the box was opened, your treated to a 250g bag of carefully selected coffee beans, an outline of this month’s coffee on brown card, plus some photos of the Melbourne-based roasters – a nice touch. A simple yet well-crafted experience, all with sustainable packaging.

Melbourne coffee love!
Melbourne coffee love!

The coffee: Now the big question – so how was the coffee? I was treated to Balaclava’s Common Ground Coffee – L.E.S Blend. Now I’m no coffee expert, but I can hand-on-my-heart say that it made a delicious and hearty brew, without any bitter after-taste. It certainly perked up my day at work!

I had a chance to chat with Three Thousand Thieves (TTT) founder Athan Didaskalou, over a hearty brew to learn more about his experience in building this side project:

You have a day job, what are the challenges of balancing a growing side project at the same time?

I work as a strategist for DT. DT promotes a culture of entrepreneurship and learning-through-doing, and working in that environment definitely rubs off on you. Bosses all love the idea, in fact I have a few of them as customers! My business model is based on a monthly cycle, and because of this, managing the workload is a lot easier – I only have a couple of late nights preparing before delivery day. I think it’s important to maintain the balance between work and the venture on the side. It’s also about setting your priorities from the get go. It forces you to be organised and cracks down on procrastination. With the right business model, you can do something a little fun on the side and maintain your sanity.

What inspired you to start TTT? Is your aim to grow it into a full time business for yourself?

Like most people in Melbourne, I love my coffee. This came from a problem I wanted a service for myself: why can’t someone find me all the different coffees in Melbourne and sell them to me?! I hope to continue to grow the business in parallel with my career in digital. The two go hand in hand – what I learn from in one I can use on the other.

How do you find and select the coffee that you provide?

Word of mouth is the only way. Everyone always has their own special place, with their favourite special blend. It’s about talking to the right people to find these places. Then it’s all about taste. We have an espresso on location, and take a couple of bags with us. My partner and friends are all coffee nuts, so if we all like it, it becomes the chosen one for the month!

What can we expect in the future?

Going international! The demand for Melbourne coffee is huge, especially in the US and in Asian majors like Hong Kong and Singapore. Feedback from customers has shown us that people love to make coffee at home, but don’t like the typical wankers that usually condescend the everyday drinker into trying something new. We want to break down those barriers and run education pieces on cold drips, pour-overs and the like without the snobbery.

In your mind, how does Melbourne coffee compare to the rest of the world?

Melbourne is the quintessential coffee city: our culture has geared this one thing into a thriving economic beast. Rarely can you find so many coffee houses, so many roasters, so many people obsessed with quality than what you do in Melbourne. New York for their pretzels. Naples for its sauce. Melbourne for its coffee. We live in a rare one-in-a-million city for coffee fanatics.

Favourite spot to enjoy coffee in Melbourne?

There’s a little gem in Kew called Adeney. Bit of a drive, but take your partner and someone’s dog and enjoy getting away from it all before the weekend kicks in.

Check out Three Thousand Thieves online to start your own coffee revolution while supporting local artisan coffee roasters. Follow @3000Thieves on Twitter.

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About our Curator // Kat Loughrey is the Melbourne Curator of The Fetch, a community where professionals can discover and share what’s happening in their city. Kat is also a Digital Executive in the sporting industry by day (fuelled by coffee) and can be found exploring Melbourne’s arts and music scenes by night. Follow her on Twitter at @KatLoughrey & @TheFetchMELB

Interview: Melbourne local, John Barton — October 29, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, John Barton

This week, we chat to John Barton – the previous dev manager at Envato and now a tech cofounder at movie-review startup Goodfilms.

John Barton in the office

Name: John Barton
Website: http://goodfil.ms & http://whoisjohnbarton.com
Twitter handle(s): @johnbarton & @goodfilmshq
Works: Doing tech for Goodfilms

You are co-founder of the social film review startup, Goodfilms. Tell us about the story behind how the site started…

The site started off much more as a little hobby project for Glen [Glen Maddern – John’s cofounder]. It was just a tiny little web app to help him keep a list of films people were recommending to him. At the same time, I was maintaining a spreadsheet of the IMDB top 250 films, and tracking which of my friends had seen what so we could organise movie nights.

After plenty of discussions at the pub, it became clear that if two people like us had to invent their own ways to organise what their friends have seen and recommend, that there was actually an unmet need out in the market and that maybe Glen’s side project (with a little love and funding) could be it.
Glen pitched the idea to Angel Cube [a Melbourne-based startup accelerator] mid-2011, went through the program, then we secured funding in early 2012 and I came on to the project full time around then.

Goodfilms homepage

Goodfilms is based in Melbourne. What do you like about being based here? Do you think startups need to head to the US considering all the stuff happening now in Australia?

I love the depth of the engineering community in Melbourne. There are a lot of really talented developers based here. I reckon there’s one or two really solid tech meetups every week where smart people get together to talk about their craft.

I also just generally like the quality of life here, and the fact that it’s not a huge tech hub keeps everything very grounded.

I really hope that startups don’t need to head over to the US to succeed. We’re unsure as to whether we will need to head over at some point or not. If you’re doing a tech startup with an at least semi-traditional business model that is in place very early then there’s definitely no need to go overseas; those kinds of products are well understood and respected here.

Aiming to do something big like a social network, in a market as big as film is… well, we’ll see…

Any cool wins or shareable challenges with the site to date?

The biggest challenge for us, as tech/product guys, has been making the time to work on all the business-y parts of the business. It’s far to easy to put your head down and work on the product and then find it’s been two weeks since the last time you did any marketing, and without the marketing, no one is going to see your hard work.

We’ve just had a couple of really good months, since the start of August we’ve grown our registered user base by a factor of six, hit the Reddit front page, got a really nice write up on Lifehacker, and a bunch of other awesome things.

All that came from Glen and I realising that one of us needs to wear the business hat at all times and really push the business forward, not just the product.

Generally I think the big wins are attached to big challenges, and it certainly was the case in this instance.

Previously you were development manager at Envato. How did you find the transition from managing code to managing people (and code)?

I found the transition incredibly difficult. Thankfully I was just managing other programmers. It’s a lot easier to wrap your head around people management when the people you’re managing share the same skills and motivations as you – you can empathise more easily with their needs and offer concrete help when they’re in difficulty.

One of the big challenges was that it was very early days for Envato, and none of us had done much like what we were doing before. Collis, Envato’s founder, had never managed anyone before either. As tech was the largest team at HQ, I was the sole middle manager with no peers to swap notes with, or more importantly, vent my frustrations with.

Probably the single biggest thing that got me over the hump in that role was hiring Pete [Pete Yandell] as my second in charge. We had strengths and weaknesses that complimented each other really well: he had experience from managing teams in startups, but no real desire to get into the nitty gritty admin and – I was the exact opposite, no experience but enjoying doing anything and everything to make the team productive.

What was your first job?

My first “work” was running a shareware stand at a local market every weekend. We all pooled our pocket money to buy floppy disks, spent Saturdays copying games like crazy, and then made a tidy profit on the Sunday.

My first job was working in the kitchen at the 24 hour McDonalds in Geelong. That was exactly as fun as it sounds. I still haven’t eaten McDonalds since (11 years and counting).

Some of your other roles have included gigs at MyCareer and The Vine. What culture and company size do you prefer working for?

My strong preference is to work for a product company over services. I like companies that are big enough to have people to collaborate with, have big problems to solve, but are still small enough you can engage directly with the users of your product.

My best work gets done when I settle into a groove with a product. Once you get to know the people using your product, and get to know the ins and outs of the problem your users have it increases your chances of finding an unexpected way to solve it.

Who else do you think is doing good stuff at the moment – both locally and globally?

Globally I’m really fond of Kickstarter. I love that they’re changing the way creative works get funded. I love their design: even from their header it’s clear what it’s for and how you relate to the site.

I’m also keeping a close eye on Etsy. Over the past couple of years they’ve taken their engineering up to another level. If you’re interested in scaling up web applications, the posts coming out of the team blog and a bunch of the individual engineers are amazing.

Locally I think the Adioso guys are smashing it right now. It’s perfect for me that they finally nailed the routes I’m interested in and got the price alerts system just right before I took the big income hit to do a startup. I may just be able to afford a holiday thanks to them.

What keeps you driven and focused each day?

This is a surprisingly tough question to answer. I’d heard over and over that startups are like a rollercoaster ride. They really are. Depending on whether the day is up or down it changes.

On a good day, it’s just flow. Things click into place, I’m not even aware I’m working until all of a sudden it’s starting to get dark. On a bad day, it’s just sheer bloody-minded stubbornness. Those days I just pop the headphones on, swear at the computer a little bit, and then keep plodding along.

Do you attend any meetups in Melbourne – which ones are worth heading along?

I’ve been attending the Melbourne Ruby Group since mid 2007. That’s a really good meetup if you want to meet a lot of smart, switched-on web developers.

I’ve made it to a couple of the new Creative Mornings Melbourne talks over in Collingwood. They’ve been really great, and I find them pretty good for getting out of my pure tech comfort zone.

There’s usually more I’d like to go to, but I’ve never got the time.

You stated on your website that you’re … “pretty serious about the serious things in life: Bikes, Books, and Booze.” Where in Melbourne do you love to ride, read and drink?

It’s kind of funny, but since diving whole-heartedly into a startup – my riding and drinking have changed a lot. The reading is still the same.

These days I’ll usually do a quick training ride around Yarra Boulevard. The view over the city is stunning, it’s pretty much devoid of car traffic, and it’s got enough hills that my legs feel it even though I don’t have the time to do a more dedicated ride.

I’m very, very fond of Double Happiness on Liverpool St for a cocktail or two. It used to be a regular haunt of mine, but since startup life I haven’t really had the income to drink there regularly. Nowadays you’re much more likely to find me in the beer garden of The Retreat or The Resurrection (both in Brunswick).

I’m pretty fond of reading in any beer garden, anywhere. Fleming Park in Brunswick is another good choice. The little nest I make in the middle of the lounge-room on the floor is probably my all time favourite though.

What’s next for Goodfilms and John Barton?

For me, that’s easy. I’ll be doing whatever it takes to push Goodfilms to the next level. I will take occasional breaks for sleeping.

For Goodfilms, it’s all about growing the user base and the ratings dataset we’ve got. Glen’s a serious wizard with maths, and once we’ve got all the data we need, you can expect to see a pretty amazing recommendation system that combines your taste with the movies moving through your social graph.

Lastly, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

I don’t know that it was necessarily advice, but my boss at MyCareer told me when I started that “I can make any mistake I like once. If you don’t make any, you’re not trying. If you make the same one twice, you’re not learning”.

He was true to his word; I had some made some monumental mistakes as a junior programmer there, and I always had his full support. Except when I did screw things up twice, and he came down on me like a ton of bricks. Which I deserved.

When I had a team of my own I gave everyone the exact same instruction. I try and manage myself the same way. For me it’s the right balance between the freedom to try new things, and the discipline to make sure you do them right.

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