NATIONAL FINALIST: TOYOTA & NET IMPACT TRANSPORTATION & MOBILITY HACKATHON

 I was a national finalist in Toyota and Net Impact's Next Generation Mobility Challenge and I also won the Bay Area challenge. Our team was selected from over 160 teams across the country to pitch our transportation idea to a panel of Toyota judges at Toyota's headquarters in Plano, TX. Here, we were immersed in a bootcamp where we developed a business model, a financial plan, and a launch strategy for our product. After the bootcamp, we refined our product and our pitch and sent it back to the Toyota judges for a final review. The winner would be determined based on the judges review combined with the results of a public voting session for each of the final three products. While our team did not win, this experience taught me the value and strength in building diverse teams with multiple skill sets. This experience also enabled me to grow as a designer and to gain deeper insight into the design process within a large organization.

 
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the problem

Relying on public transportation to get to work, while more affordable, often results in tardiness, exhaustion, frustration, and can contribute to cycles of economic immobility.

The big idea

How might we leverage mobility solutions to provide better equity and access to socially vulnerable groups?

Using human-centered design, we created our product, The Hub. This app matches commuting parents from neighboring communities to carpool to work together. The idea was to create a product that supports disadvantaged communities by offering them an affordable solution to the problem of relying on public transportation to commute lengthy distances to work.

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process

This hackathon spanned across 6 months, beginning at a one-day event at CCA in San Francisco. My team was created randomly at the event and our day consisted of using human-centered design methods to develop a transportation solution for a specific persona. We chose to design for Michael, a hotel maintenance worker, who relied on public transportation to get to work. He was also responsible for getting his children to school safely and on time. Michael's reliance on public transportation meant that he was often late for work resulting in many layoffs. As a result, he was stuck in a vicious cycle where he couldn't get promoted because he couldn't get to work on time, therefore thwarting his earning potential. He couldn't earn or save enough to buy a car and he oftentimes found himself stressed, tired, and unable to enjoy spending time with his family.

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With this in mind, we started creating a journey map for Michael and pinpointed areas where we could save him time and where he could spend more time with his family.  Working as a team, we set a timer and began generating ideas on what we could develop and create to make a better commute for Michael. 

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We chose to design an app that would enable low-income families to match with other parents in their neighborhood who were commenting to similar work destinations. The driver would get paid a fee to cover gas and tolls and the passenger would be able to commute to work in a more comfortable, reliable, and faster manner. The idea was that this would enable lower-income families to save time and money while also strengthening bonds and relationships within their community. After pitching this idea to the judges in San Francisco, we discovered that we had won the Bay Area challenge. Several months later, we were informed that our idea was selected amongst the top three in the country and that we would have the opportunity to go to Plano, TX where we would pitch our idea to a panel of Toyota judges. By clicking on the "Product Demo" button, you can see the final version of The Hub.