Progress Update: September 2022

Update for September

The major advancement this past month is that Problemattic is now truly a platform. I added the capability this past week for logged-in users to nominate both problems and projects:

When you nominate a problem it takes you through a wizard to ensure it’s not a duplicate, meets certain criteria, addresses one or more SDGs and solicits whether any of the existing problems are upstream of it:

Your submission goes into an approval queue and appears on the site once approved by an admin. You can then also nominate a project idea to address this or an existing problem in the system. This process likewise is a wizard that first asks which problems your project addresses, basic data on name/blurb/description and then it asks you to record a 30-60sec pitch to your prospective volunteers to get them excited about it.

This is where Bubble (the nocode platform I’m using to build the app) really shines. I was able to make the entire project nomination process in about 2 hours total complete with the webcam/phone-based pitch recording capability. It’s pretty bonkers what you can accomplish in Bubble with no coding required…

Other Wins

I’m super excited to announce our next hackathon in Lisbon is October 15th in partnership with 42 Lisboa.

I discovered 42 Lisboa via a friend who shares office space with them and I’m blown away by the scope and elegance of this project. It’s basically like a dojo for learning to code with no instructors. All learning is challenge-based “figure it out” style learning. We will be involving their students in the next hackathon and if this pilot goes well there’s opportunity bring this to the other 50 cities in which they have a presence. I’m super excited to work with their students.

The other main platform advancement I made last month was to make the experience of specifying one’s roles, skills, languages, programming languages far less overwhelming. I’ve setup everything as a ResourceTag and used a ParentID to make it so specifying a role unlocks skills, languages and tools that fall within that role. And that works to n depth so you can nest sub-skills infinitely for more and more granularity without overwhelming the user with a bunch of non-relevant stuff that makes them feel stupid or have to hunt for the things that apply to them. So for example when you choose the “Marketer” role it then exposes all the different marketing skills and tools:

These same ResourceTags are then used to code all the ProjectNeeds and that becomes the foundation for how we can start to suggest relevant projects on the dimensions of skills, cause affinity, location, availability, event format, time-commitment, etc.

And the last fun thing I did was to use Dall-E to redo the imagery for each problem. I had it generate an impressionist style painting for each instead of the Creative Commons photos I was using. This is just way better. Using Dall-E is pretty mind-blowing what it can create:


As always it’s a question of focus and what to prioritize as a solo founder. I had been intending last month to take a channel strategy approach and go full force after nomadic travel programs tailoring the platform for them to use onboarding their members as a “volunteering as a service” platform. I think that’s still a useful direction long-term but this 42 Lisboa connection came up serendipitously and I’m for now focused on making a rewarding & productive experience for their students. The rationale behind this switch is 1) they have in a sense a more captive audience than the nomadic travel programs 2) there’s more “skin in the game” as they can reward participation with extra credit and it should be pretty trivial to map our ProjectNeeds to their challenges model 3) more bang for the buck if it works - ie. they have instances in 50 cities so if it works in Lisbon and we see a simple way to plug in at the franchise level that would be a huge win.

Next Month’s Focus

For October I’m focused on:
Deploying the essential features to enable team leaders to recruit and manage teams to work on projects. This should involve making the ability for volunteers to submit assets, attach them as contributions and assign those to ProjectNeeds. Then need to add some project manager admin capabilities around approving submissions, recruiting participants, adding ProjectNeeds, etc. I want to bridge Bubble to ActiveCampaign and setup some basic onboarding automations. And as a stretch goal I would love to have a pre-event guided onboarding checklist for attendees working though I’m not sure I’ll have that in time for this next event.

Project Success
We haven’t really made any meaningful progress on any projects since the last hackathon. My hope is with the 42 Lisboa students we can get 1-2 teams inspired enough to ship an MVP of a project. Once we’re creating measurable impact that gives us more credibility, recruitment should be easier, PR opps, etc.

Very focused on making October 15th Lisbon hackathon successful for 42 Lisboa.

Deferring new podcast publishing for sake of focus on the above.

The technical roadmap as always can be found here.