A few weeks ago, we had to form groups for our Design-Thinking for Startups class and I have been lucky to be part of the team I am in now. Because we are freaking awesome. Actually we can’t really call it luck, since we chose our groups. However, it was a really hard process since I think our MACE class is made up of very intelligent and motivated people who are at the same time fun and exciting individuals. Pretty cool, right? Yeah it is. But – ofcourse a but comes after a really positive sentence – but, creating our group made up of me, Nora, Lulu and Luka was an emotionally challenging process.
Long story short, assuming that it was okay to be 5 people in the group, we decided on our team: Nora, Lulu, Nicolas, Tim and me. Our first meeting was perfect: chemistry was right, we brainstormed ideas which was really easy, we all had different skills that we could bring to the team and we were kinda cool, ya know. Short time after the meeting we all agreed to be together and a Whatsapp group was formed. We chatted, made jokes, however we didn’t know what was waiting for us: Separation. After one of our Friday classes, we were informed that it was impossible to be 5 people, so we had to make a decision and it was to get separated into 2s and 3s, since we didn’t want one person to leave the group. So the group I was in, had Lulu and Nora in it, two bright girls that I felt a connection since the first day I met them. I felt really bad and sad and down that we couldn’t be with Tim and Nicolas anymore. It sucked so badly! But we had to move on and we had to find one more person. This person was Luka, the guy who lost in the coin-toss with Tim. This happened when Tim, Luka and Nicolas were told they couldn’t be 3 guys in a group and had to get separated. Even though Luka had lost the coin-toss, he had actually won…He was in our team. And he brought a different dynamic to our team, he actually did: he was good with numbers, had a great sense of humour, was really really nice and kind. So we were united as a team, to create new ideas for our start-up, which lead to our team name: Univeau. This word is the combination of ‘Unidos’, which means ‘united’ in Spanish and ‘Nouveau’ which is ‘new’ in French. Even though my initial thought was that it was hard to read and write, I just loved the word, because it had a great meaning behind it. And the team loved it as well. So it was set! We were team Univeau.
Our first task as a team was to come up with a problem we observed in service design. We all came up with different ideas and then decided on one that was the most important one for us: those annoying plastic bags in food stores. Sorry Tesco but I’m gonna use you as an example. So what happened is that, we went to Tesco and tried using the bags and it happened again, it was just hard to open the bags. Also, there was a queue behind us, which made the seconds felt like hours. Think about someone in a rush, every second counts right? (Especially if you’re going to uni and have to catch a bus)
So we started thinking of a better way to design the plastic bags and we came up with this.
- The new bags would have handles – which would be made from the same material as the bags – on the side to open it in an easier way
- There would be two metal sticks holding the bags, which would be coming from two sides so that the bags would be situated in the opposite direction. Hard to explain, but try to picture the metal sticks in the sense that when you put the bags on them, you can easily open the bags by using the holding points on the sides.
After a week of working on this project: brainstorming, deciding on the problem, observing, role playing, prototyping and getting ready for the presentation, Friday arrived. It was the day of our presentation. We were ready with our props that ranged from luggages (to represent a self-service machine) provided by Nora and the pages (to represent the screen) prepared by Lulu, to the items provided by me. Luka’s surprise was waiting for us at the end, where he would win the heart of the audience, including the professors.
When our turn for the presentation arrived, we got up to the ‘stage’ and performed our journey of having a hard time with plastic bags. Lulu was helping with the props, I was the ‘persona’ and Nora was the friend who was hurrying me to catch the bus. I wasn’t able to open the bag and that’s when the angel (Luka) appeared. With his ‘magical magic stick’ he froze time and presented the bag to me, saying: ‘Why don’t you use this bag, it is easy to use and you won’t be wasting your time with it!’. And my problem was solved. Following the performance, we presented our product again and explained how we had used the Service Design-Thinking processes. We first emphatized with the customers, then we defined the problem, we ideated and prototyped the product and we tested it in class. It wasn’t testing in real life but the audience liked the idea, so I guess it went well! But we shouldn’t forget Luka’s calculation, which took everybody by surprise towards the end. He actually calculated how much time was spent on opening a plastic bag in our life time. This was not only very true, but also the solid facts got the attention of our audience immediately, which was the best part. And it was something like this:
138 days would be lost in a life time, if we opened a bag in 7 seconds, that was huge!
We received positive responses from many and went back to our seats with feeling proud of our achievement and feeling excited for the future challenges that were yet to come. We weren’t so scared of the problems we were going to solve anymore. We knew that there would be failures on the way, but we were ready for the awesome journey. We didn’t know yet, but we felt it…