Lisbon 10/15/22 Fixathon recap

We had a solid turnout for our last event on Saturday and a good crew of participants for the meet & greet dinner last Wednesday prior to the event. I’m going to quickly recap here the flow of the event so you can get a feel for this worked. First a group photo of our mighty tribe of in-person participants:

Meet & Greet Dinner

Before the event I extend an invitation to the first fifteen participants who complete the pre-event onboarding steps to join us for a pizza dinner. This was a purely social event and a chance for us to get to know each other prior to the fixathon. We did our dinner at Portofino in Lisbon on Oct 12th and had a cozy crew of ten people join:

We went around the table and learned what societal causes each of us value most and brainstormed ideas for projects we could pitch that would help put a dent in these issues.

Pre-event promo

Prior to the event I had posted a link to the Meetup in about half a dozen digital community channels I’m a part of in Lisbon. I also used Dall-E to generate a cool promo poster and printed up some glossy 12"x18" flyers that I placed at various cowork spaces around Lisbon:

@Gabriele helped put up posters at 42 Lisboa and @Darius helped by sharing via his social channels. I had reached out to various business mentors in the local community as well as circulated a signup form to create a pool of customer feedback volunteers who would be willing to chat with teams at the event. In all we amassed a total of 31 volunteers going into the event between judges, mentors, facilitators, participants and customer feedback interviewees. Takes a village…

The Fixathon

The best way to get a feel for the event experience is by watching this 3-minute recap video I put together:

Shoutout to Afonso Ponto the videographer at the event for capturing the amazing footage that went into creating this video.

42 Lisboa graciously let us use their space for the event and it was perfect. We got started just after 10am by playing an ice breaker game called “Half Baked” that I had discovered via Startup Weekend. This helped loosen everyone up and get comfortable pitching in front of the group. The idea for the day was to move everyone through this sequence of steps:

With such a short timeline we had to follow a tight schedule to fit it all in.

We started with a town-hall-style open call for potential problems we might want to work on. We got these all onto a white board and then people gravitated into teams to tackle:

  • Food waste in restaurants
  • Human trafficking
  • High school education
  • Bureaucracy for refugees and immigrants
  • Extinction of basal species in food chain

After some deliberation we had some group consolidation recognizing overlap in the Human Trafficking group and the Refugee group. And the Species group merged into the Food Waste group. From there teams went through a rapid iteration process to zero-in on the single most high-impact-yet-feasible small scale project they could create to put a dent in their respective issue.

The intention was to have teams write up an aspirational press release ala the Amazon PR/FAQ “Working Backwards” methodology but we were already a bit behind schedule so instead they did an abbreviated PR summary on their whiteboard. Here’s an example from the Education team:

After getting clarity on the project and the goal we broke for pizza. This was the first point at which teams received external feedback from mentors. Up until this point ideas were all internal to the team so this would be the first time those ideas would be pressure tested. I had invited some pillars of the local Lisbon startup community from Startup Lisboa, Beta-I, Canopy City and various entrepreneurs. Over some tasty pizza courtesy of Pagely the mentors met with the teams, challenged their thinking and helped them shape the proposed projects before they embarked on building their prototype.

We snapped out of the pizza coma and did a quick session where I took everyone through a live-fire demo of building a simple clickable prototype of a proposed app using the free MarvelApp design platform in under 5 minutes. Teams then spent the next hour building their prototype and formulating questions for customer interviews.

These interviews are the most powerful part of the event experience. Prior to this everything is speculative here-say on the project. This is when the proposed app gets into the hands of a prospective user and the teams get to interrogate the user about… well… everything.
I had lined up a pool of volunteers who were willing to meet with teams either in person or remotely to give them input:

Across the board I believe this was the valuable reality check that helped further forge the project ideas into something viable.

From here teams spent the last hour of the day formulating all they had learned into a 5min pitch they would give from the stage in front of the group and a panel of judges. We then had 5min of questions and constructive feedback from the judges and in the end they awarded the winning prize (€10 pre-paid transit cards courtesy of Pagely) to “Joao Knows,” the project for assisting immigrants and refugees dealing with confusing processes in a language other than their native tongue. They had come up with the idea of creating a WhatsApp-based chatbot to help non-Portuguese speakers navigate confusing processes around establishing residency and integrating into Portuguese society. You can see their prototype here.

Tied for second place were teams “Close the Gap” and “G-Rate” with a peer-curated education platform to teach the practical stuff we don’t learn in school (starting with financial literacy) and a directory app with ratings & reviews on locals businesses on various dimensions of sustainability so consumers can make more sustainability-conscious purchasing decisions. You can find their prototypes here and here respectively.

In all it was a truly epic day and I took six pages of journal notes on how to improve the event and in the spirit of radical transparency have shared those in our Discord. I welcome any input from participants who want to chime in and have a hand in shaping the event format for next time.

Thank you to all who made this a truly special day: our sponsors, mentors, judges, participants, feedback volunteers, street team and my co-facilitator Lucie. Looking forward to implementing some of these tweaks, building out this idea for a “startup ecosystem market for services in the room” concept for the December event.

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