Take Back Control - Recapping #Hackathon2018
Those in the UK during the run-up to the EU Referendum will be familiar with this populist slogan from the Brexit side of the debate.
A similar ethos – thankfully in a very different context and with a very different meaning – was used as the basis for AboutMe (founded by James Chance, Moustafa Abdelhamid, and Thomas Pai), which emerged victorious in the third annual LBS Hackathon event.
Facing off against 12 other teams in a 48-hour dash to create the most compelling new business venture, AboutMe emerged triumphant with a simple concept to analyse and recommend how individual users can better manage their digital footprint. Tapping into the forthcoming, potentially transformative, EU GDPR regulation, AboutMe is designed to provide a user-friendly app for people to protect and manage their data privacy and digital identity.
Against the backdrop of growing disquiet in Europe about the management and use of individual data and content, AboutMe impressed a panel of industry luminaries, including LBS’ Jeff Skinner, Raju Samu from BCGDV and Raphael Ani from Wayra, who praised its “ease of use, sizeable total addressable market and clear unit economics”.
The deserved winner is just one aspect of a weekend that told a much richer story about the rude health of entrepreneurship and innovation within the wider LBS community. Bringing together the brightest minds from London’s top business schools, genius coders and design gurus, resulted in a varied collection of ventures spanning a range of sectors and use cases: GeneBook, a streamlined genetic testing platform; Persons, a social network based on the concept of better connecting people 'IRL'; and, this author’s personal favourite, Lagom (Swedish for ‘just the right amount’, in case you’re wondering) an app that provides you with recipe ideas based on the ingredients in your fridge. The hackathon was truly a testament to what can be achieved in 48 hours and proved an incredible opportunity for anybody from our community with a bias for action to put their idea through its paces.
Thomas Pai (EMBA2018) from AboutMe commented: "HackLBS was one of those life-defining experiences - a hotbed of innovation, where smart people, great ideas and impressive mentors intersect to design the future. It was a great opportunity to validate our idea and I am excited to see where it will lead us."
So, indeed, where does AboutMe and all the other teams that took part go from here? Jeff Skinner comments: “The thrust of the Hackathon is to produce a MVP of some kind and we saw many potentially viable business opportunities. But the MVP isn’t an end in itself, it’s a tool with which to carry out an even more valuable learning experiment. The next step for any of this year’s participants is to put their MVP into the field and get to the heart of whether it can generate the customer demand to justify a fully-fledged new venture.”
So, to participating teams, don't stop now! And to those wishing they had got involved, stay tuned – the eClub at London Business School will be pouring out more opportunities for you rebel entrepreneurs, you designers, and you developers to chase that nagging idea in the back of your mind...