Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Archive for May, 2012

SS48: A Hero Weekend

May 7, 2012 Passion Comments

What a whirlwind!! The Sydney SS48 weekend was awesome, I learnt heaps, met some really cool people and my team of six made some real headway on our start-up idea. It could possibly become a real thing!

But more on that later. For now, there is cake –

So the weekend started on Friday night where there was a meet and greet to kick things off. We put on name tags and navigated our way to our designated tables, littered with blank paper and coloured textas (kindergarten flashbacks, that’s pretty much how I remember my first day there too).

One very exciting aspect from the get go was that my kindness suggestion was shortlisted for one of the ideas! When I arrived in what became ‘the kindness corner’ I met five lovely people who were to become my team for the next three days – Paul, Jenny, Simon, Ben and Tony.

We were greeted by the organisers and listened to a quick overview of the event and the plan of action. We were introduced to some mentors who would be assisting over the weekend and listened to a keynote speech by Creel Price – holy moly has he done . Then we performed an ‘asset mapping’ activity overseen by Donny Maclurcan (founder of the social enterprise Project Australia and Post Growth Institute), which involved writing down our passions (heart), skills (hands) and knowledge (head) on post-it notes and then traveling around the room sticking them on any of the team posters that we thought we could contribute an asset to. The end result meant that our own poster held post-its from other SS48-ers who may potentially be able to assist in the long term. This is great as depending on who ended up in a team, there may be a need or skill required (a designer for example). It was a worthwhile strategy to learn, I can see how that approach – even as a more informal process – would be useful in other projects.

We worked in our teams for a couple of hours on our plan of action for the weekend, then we each team gave a one minute pitch. Paul did a great job representing our team, with his Captain Kindness alter ego making his first appearance for the weekend:

There’s a video of the first pitches on YouTube – watching them back now – gosh it was such a whirlwind, it’s amazing that groups had already nutted out ideas and direction:

We wrapped it up pretty late only to be back first thing in the morning, coffees in hand ready to get stuck into it. As an aside – check out the street art on the roller doors of the venue, Queen Street Studio in Chippendale; pretty cool!

So Saturday’s focus was on shaping the vision for our startup – which, after a hilarious 20 minute brainstorm with the six of us blurting out random words and phrases, we named it ‘All Hearts Alliance’. It was a real group effort, I couldn’t even tell you how we got to it – but the moment we had hit on the phrase and someone said ‘All Hearts Alliance’ we all started nodding. Someone spelled A-H-A and there was more nodding, then a second’s silence. It popped into my head and I exclaimed ‘a-HA!’ with a fist pump into the air. We all started laughing and it all clicked into place, as ‘a-HA!’ moments do.

Our motivation is that everyone is a kindness hero who can ‘unleash the kindness within’. The basic premise for our Startup is a random acts of kindness movement that is trackable through coded cards, with a gamification aspect that builds an online community of ‘heroes’. When someone performs a random act of kindness they leave behind a card that tells the recipient that they’ve been chosen and if they choose to accept the challenge their mission is to keep the kindness effect going. They can sign up on the app (as an anonymous hero or with a social media identity) and see where the card came from and where it goes in future. Eventually we hope to cover the globe with kindness!

Once we had a name and concept we set-up a web domain, twitter and facebook accounts, and then a market research survey. Our whole team hit up our social media networks to get as many people contributing as possible. We got our business and marketing plans underway and did a lot, a lot, of research. It was such a rewarding process to go through with a team of like-minded and passionate people. We all came to the table with different skill sets and backgrounds so the mix of ideas and how we built on them and developed our concepts as a group was really awesome. It just proves that six brains are much better than one.

There was a few speakers during the day, including Tom Dawkins who spoke about the power of peer funding. He founded Start Some Good which is a crowd funding platform for social enterprise/not for profit projects. It was a good idea to inject some inspiration/mental breaks during the day because otherwise… we might have gone a little bananas.

Sunday morning came around too quick! But the adrenaline of the weekend was still going strong so we turned up super early and managed to roll out our first promo campaign by getting a chocolate and Kindness Card on every seat by the time everyone turned up for the day. Lots of people scanned the QR code on their card which was a great first experiment for our concept. Our platform is reliant on a fair bit of custom web development so we won’t have a working prototype for awhile, but we have certainly fleshed out our concept and direction.

We had to do a 5 minute pitch that night so we spent the bulk of the afternoon preparing for that.

Paul, aka Captain Kindness, presented our pitch and he did a brilliant job. We spent ages rehearsing and got some good tips and feedback from some of the mentors beforehand.

Check out Paul’s giving our All Hearts Alliance pitch:

Sunday’s real focus became the pitch, which was important but it was slightly frustrating as it felt like it pulled energy from working on the actual startup. It was still a good experience though, and the process of pitching did help refine our ideas.

So, what a crazy weekend! It was hard work, lots of fun and a great personal development experience. My team has a solid concept to move forward with developing our idea which we plan to do – after a long sleep and maybe a week off first :-)

I think the organisers plan to expand Social Startup 48 to other cities so if you have the chance to participate then I definitely recommend you apply – you’ll have a brilliant experience.