/ Culture

We won the DBS Hong Kong hackathon

We had a blast at the DBS Hackathon held at the Hong Kong Science Park last week. Victor, Barry and I worked alongside five DBS bankers over three days of hacking. We were tasked with developing an app to tackle the problem of creating a sense of community for the bank's SME clients in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The first day was packed with mantra on lean loops and human centered design. We were taken through the product design process. We identified our customers, his pain points, came up with solutions, narrowed them down and iterated. All these with markers, post-its and large pieces of paper.

The initial idea we came up with was a CEO-to-CEO network for SME owners. We were told to go out there, speak with real customers and validate it.

As expected of a team of hackers and bankers, we decided to take the easy way out. We put a bunch of post-its on paper and crafted the perfect story of how we had spoken to several customers. We began wireframing and prototyping immediately to get a headstart.

By the second day, we did have a headstart. We had a working app while the other teams were still coming up with ideas. We were feeling pretty happy with ourselves until we found that a team in the previous hackathon presented the same idea. We knew that we would not be able to win with this idea.

It was back to the drawing board. We sat around and went back and forth discussing new ideas for a couple of hours without making any real progress. This was until our mentor Cade came to the rescue. She forced us to go out to speak to real people. So off we went!

We split the team in two. Four of us headed to the SMEs in Science Park while the others went to the Hong Kong Expo in Wan Chai where a jewellery fair was taking place. We rolled up our sleeves, mustered our courage and spoke to over 20 SME owners.

After consolidating what we heard, we found that many SME owners had difficulty finding partners they could trust. We pivoted to tackle the angle of trust between customers and suppliers.

By this time, we had only a few hours left to modify the design and code as well as prepare a pitch. We got started right away. By late morning of the next day, in a massive show of teamwork, we pulled everything together. One of the bankers even helped scrape company logos for the app.

Our concept was a DBS-to-DBS premium network of trusted partners. We had a beautiful iOS app to demonstrate the core functionality. The senior executives loved it and we won! Loads of fun and all-in-all a great learning experience.