It’s three weeks before the Jam for Good. I hesitantly Skype into a meeting thinking “what am I getting myself into?”. I introduce myself to a group of strangers. We participate in an ice-breaker. I was nervous and concerned I was in the midst of biting off much more than I could chew. Little did I know, this group would soon become my family as we worked to achieve a beautifully intimidating goal.
We were planning a Toronto event that would participate in the Global Service Jam. Jams would be taking place on the same weekend over 100 cities around the world. Over 48 hours, jammers all around the world would simultaneously develop and prototype something new to change the world.
They say that your vibe attracts your tribe… that’s exactly what happened.
How eight strangers were able to gather 35 participants, a 25 person waitlist, 22 mentors, six judges, and nine speakers willing to give up their weekend sounds like a mystery. However, I have learned that a capable cause will bring together its respective “tribe” of passionate people.
The Jam for Good launch took place at Idea Couture. Energized with snacks and drinks, guests were introduced to the “for good” topics: Michael Kolm on Citizen Inclusion, Adaora Ogbue on Fintech for Good, and Katie Harper on Climate Change. Emily Miernik warmed the crowd with the Danish Clap, Sakeena Mihar and Yang Wang introduced Mental Health, and the last speaker, Mazi Javidiani, introduced design ethics. Teams were formed around “for good” topics, problems were defined, and opportunities were selected. The Global Theme was announced as the word blue (on a yellow background) — teams would have to get creative to incorporate this.
Saturday morning started off bright and early with plenty of coffee at WeWork in Richmond Street. Komal Faiz spoke about research methods. Roxanne Nicolussi introduced a design approach to problem-solving. She also launched a social impact design lab, 5Y Impact Lab. Throughout the day, teams were encouraged to conduct research with real people and refine their ideas, an abundance of impressive mentors circulating. After a delicious Middle Eastern lunch, they were introduced to ideation techniques by Pat Robinson and prototyping by Sam McGarva. Teams presented their ideas to other teams for critique.
As the day of hard work came to an end, the organizers got their hands dirty (sticky?) creating customized jams for their guests.
On Sunday morning, the teams showed up early and got right back to work. Fuelled by coffee and toast with — of course — jam, teams were introduced to the Claro networked business model canvas. With the deadline of 3pm fast-approaching, teams continued to prototype their solutions and validate their ideas. After submitting to the Global Service Jam, each team has 5 minutes to present to an impressive panel of judges including: Aldo De Jong, Co-Founder of Claro Partners; Greg Judelman, Founder of The Moment; Jesùs Gorriti, Head of Digital Customer Experience & Design, RBC, Julia Vlad Investment Manager at Intercap Inc., Alyza Devraj Product Management Consultant at Workorbe, and Silvia Hernandez Senior User Experience Consultant CIBC.
The Solutions (as summarized by Matthew Mccarthy of the Toronto Observer):
WokeWork wanted to reduce barriers for newcomers looking for employment in their specialty. They found that individuals who have moved to Canada are denied job positions due to a lack of Canadian work experience, among other barriers.
WokeWork proposed a web browser add-on that employers can use to review resumés to see past experience and education in other countries, especially details that would otherwise not translate well on a resumé.
BlueSky found that digital-savvy millennials have difficulty getting the professional mental health treatment they need.
They introduced a website that lets you fill out your needs and get a therapist to help you. They provided a link to a prototype of their social service.
The team won as a prize a consultation with The Moment, a Toronto-based innovation design studio.
The Contained team reported that 11.2 million plastic cups are used once and thrown away in Toronto each week. The waste created a $2.6-million tax burden in 2016 for Toronto’s waste system, they said.
Contained’s solution was to create a system in which people would order food for home delivery in reusable containers that are collected afterwards for future use. The team also created a webpage of an outline of their social service.
They won a consultation with Climate Ventures, a part of the Centre for Social Innovation that provides acceleration, co-working and community services.
Team Compost-A-Lot reported statistics that show 27 per cent of waste is diverted from high-rise residences, compared to 65 per cent of houses. High-rise buildings can spend thousands for waste collection each month.
Compost-A-Lot created the Compost Concierge service, which would give advice to building owners on composting and green bin strategies, and how to implement weighted scales for compost and garbage collection.
“We had to move through every stage so quickly,” said Lindsay Bangs, a developer on Compost-A-Lot. “It felt like … time was rushing ahead of us.”
MoneyWorX found that post-secondary students and immigrants are vulnerable on a financial level. They tend to struggle with financial terminology, awareness and good habits.
Their solution was an app that lets you access the tools and products for financial situations. Explanations are simplified so they are easy to understand.
A link was provided to a mobile prototype in their presentation.
MoneyWorX won a trip to Coopérathon 2019, the largest social innovation competition in Canada.
Hashtag Mental Health
The team behind Hashtag Mental Health found that there are apps for contacting therapists and to relax, but not as many to connect with friends.
They introduced SafeSpace, an app that connects people with trusted peers, friends, therapists and supportive community members. There is also easy access to 911 in the chatrooms and on the resource page of the app.
So, how did 8 strangers pull off 6 ventures in 3 days with 0 money and create a 75-person community?
The 8 strangers that made it happen:
Aldo de Jong
A huge thank you to our sponsors:
Idea Couture by Cognizant
5Y Impact Lab
Centre for Social Innovation
And to our mentors:
Ruben Perez Huidobro