How to go from idea to prototype in 2 days? – Bucket

Hackathon team | Fall 2016

Project: Startup Slalom Fintech and Insuretech Hackathon

Project Background

With the aim of accelerating the startup ecosystem in the Baltics, launched Startup Slalom, a fintech and insuretech hackathon. Starting on a Friday evening and lasting 48 hours, teams consisting of programmers, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, project managers, financial specialists and other great people were tasked with developing innovative ideas, making them into working prototypes and finally pitching them to investors on Sunday evening. Teams were formed on location from gathered participants.

Existing Conditions

The project idea came from Endijs Melecis, a product manager for ‘If insurance’. He wanted to create a pooled peer-to-peer insurance platform. When the team was formed it had 2 product managers with industry specialization, a project manager, a front-end developer, a back-end developer and me as a design researcher.

Research Considerations

  • What are existing precedents for us to explore?
  • What are potential market segments to target?
  • What is the size of the market locally and globally?
  • Do we go niche or do we go broad?
  • What would user interaction look like?


We started out by looking at existing precedents in the insurance world. These included Lemonade, Guevara, and friendsurance. Afterwards we analyzed existing operations of insurance brokers in Latvia and discovered an opportunity in the pet insurance market. Partly due to cumbersome bureaucratic processes, low broker incentives, and an overall lack of awareness on behalf of the public there was an opportunity to create an entirely new market in Latvia and neighboring countries. Looking at nearby precedents of Estonia and Finland and overseas examples from the US, we knew that the market had a lot of potential.

We crafted a survey and sent it out to local dog owners to gauge pricing and also did research on typical dog injuries, expenses and reimbursements. Using this method we created a fixed reimbursement table that allowed us to take the confusion out of claims processing.

Over the next few hours we needed to come up with an MVP that would communicate our value-proposition to users and allow us to gauge interest in our service.

The MVP took the form of a simple landing page and story with a simple call to action to join the waiting list.


Key Takeaways

  • For intensive sprints such as a hackathon, not having clear leadership is crippling.
  • Regardless of how skilled the team is individually, if there is no communication and members aren’t aware of what others are doing, problems will arise.
  • Tensions run high when you spend so much time with other people.
  • Feedback from mentors is a very important part for developing the idea, however, too much feedback from different sources in too short of a time is demoralizing and not supportive.