SokoSquare Thesis Update 4

A quick update on the status of SokoSquareCatherine, Peter, and I went to a “how to pitch” workshop at Stern this Tuesday and got some practice presenting and feedback from other teams.  We have a dress rehearsal of the full pitch next Wednesday.

We will also be participating in an ITP pitch-off this Saturday, for which I prepared this new 1-pager on our project.  In short, we are getting lots of opportunities to practice and refine our presentation for different audiences.

In other news, the Drupal intro session at Purpose I was supposed to attend was canceled, so I’m going to look into other ways to get up to speed on the tech side of building the next SokoSquare prototype.  In the meantime, I will focus on developing the user interactions and the trust mechanisms (I got lots of good feedback from my thesis group on this on Wednesday).

Saba

I got back late Friday night from a 5 day holiday on Saba in the Dutch Caribbean with my ITP pals Elizabeth and Catherine.  Saba is a tiny, tranquil island with no beach, but excellent diving and hiking.  We stayed at El Momo Cottages and I took a PADI Scuba Diver certification course at Sea Saba.  We came back tanned (a little sunburned actually) and relaxed and ready to take on the last 6 weeks of thesis before graduation (cue freak out now).  Photo essay and travel details below.

Saba Quick Guide


Stay: El Momo Cottages
Just the right kind of rustic (pictured above and below). Proprietors Andries and Marieke are gracious hosts. It’s a bit of a schlep up the hill and stairs, but the view is worth it. The homemade breakfast is a great way to start your day, while the homemade flavored rums make an excellent nightcap.

Eat: Brigadoon
The best restaurant on the island. Owner Tricia is a lively hostess, while her husband holds down the kitchen. Stick with the fresh seafood dishes and definitely try the luxurious seafood chowder.

Dive: Sea Saba
Professional and friendly staff. Scott was a knowledgeable dive instructor who explained things very clearly and helped reassure us total beginners.

Snack: Saba Snack
Tiny snack bar on the main street in Windwardside. Soursop smoothie and a coconut cookie (pictured below) make the perfect mid-afternoon post-dive snack.

Above: St. Maarten through a 70’s-tinted prop plane window. Below: Winair prop plane.

Above: View into the cockpit.  Below: Local wildlife.

Above: Mango tree.


Above: A final taste of the islands: smoked herring-stuffed plantain washed down with piña colada at the St. Maarten airport while waiting for our flight home.

Additional photography courtesy of Catherine White.

SokoSquare thesis update 3

Lots of development on SokoSquare this week, but haven’t had time to reflect.
Tuesday: presented Soko in a trade show-like format at the Stern New Venture Fair for biz plan semifinalist teams. It was cool to see what the competition was up to and to practice the pitch to different audiences. Met some potential advisers and heard some skepticism about the biz model that inspired me to get back to the drawing board and design some better interactions.

Wednesday: Catherine and I had lunch with a professor/VC who gave us some very good feedback. But also raised some questions about our direction. Need to narrow down and make choices that I hadn’t thought of before. I had thesis class later that day. The best suggestions were to go ahead and start wireframes and mockups. And develop user scenarios. And the best advice of all: divorce the creative process of Soko as my ITP thesis from the “how will you make money” demands of the biz plan competition. The best advice I’ve heard this week.

Thursday: Feedback session on the biz plan draft at Stern. We scored an “excellent” on the exec summary, “good” in the other sections. We need to tweak the financials, but we have a roadmap. Got some excellent advice about using principles of game design to incentive users to participate in SokoSquare and as a way of visualizing and communicating social currency on the site, i.e. how can you trust someone. Lots of crazy ideas in my mind right now. Time to type them up, more soon.

Ok, that was free-form and stream of consciousness, but I’m on a roll. Now back to work…