Garage48 Pärnu through the eyes of a wannabe designer

Garage48 logo

Low and behold, this time I’m writing on my own experience as a designer that participated in an event we promoted here as well earlier – Garage48 Pärnu start-up weekend.

This time I managed to collect the random yet enthusiastic pieces of my courage together and finally registered for an event that changed my perception of engineering and innovation related events.

I knew already before that it will be fun, but that it will also be extremely educative, tiring, passionate and tense – that I did not realize. It really helped that the local community Tech Sisters hosted a series of 2 events before the real thing where they talked about how the event is setup, what’s in the agenda, advised on how to pitch one’s idea and what to expect. I saw a lot of women in these events and that really gave me the last extra boost to sign up. That weekend brought together a whole lot of a women (45/99 or so) which was a record even for the event organizers. Crazy but creative ideas and wonderful teams that passionately worked towards one end-goal were nonetheless a logical outcome of that setup. When the clock striked 5:30pm on Sunday evening, everything needed to be ready. Can’t speak for other teams, but the team I was working in literally finished their last pieces of code 1 minute before the time ran out. Hands down, most tense last minutes trying to get the front-end working with smoke, bells and whistles! But we did it!

I worked in a team of 9 people, 3 for back-end, 3 for marketing and presenting, 1 front-end guy, 1 designer (me) and one random guy, that none of us was able to understand, at least when it comes to his role. He was either-or! Nonetheless, we worked great together as a team.

ticket buffet

Our project was called TicketBuffet and the pitchline of this project went somewhat like this: “TicketBuffet helps event organisers promote their concerts, shows and other ticketed experiences. They can add events with just a few clicks and give away some free tickets. People share the event to their friends to participate in the sweepstake. There’s also a premium service: for the price of one ticket organisers send a follow-up email to all who participated but didn’t win. Longer term vision is building a full promotion and ticketing platform.”

It was quite clear by end of first day that we won’t be able to implement the purchase process of tickets but we gave a real hard go on the promotional part of this web-platform. There were a lot of ideas but in the end only the ones that we were certain we could deliver by end of 48 hours were implemented. Regardless of that the outcome looked quite sophisticated and took a lot of coding to get done. Have a look yourself as well:

If day 1 was mostly about finalizing the concept and making sure the scope is clear, day 2 started with implementation. For me it meant coming up with a logo, a broad website design and some other adhoc design thingies, such as Facebook cover pages and logos as well as a teaser page that we could add as a placeholder until the real thing is up. The rest of the guys were struggling with getting the servers running, getting the Facebook login to work, getting the code running. There were a lot of hilarious moments between me and the front-end guy trying to talk the same language – e.g. I was trying to explain that he needs to add a drop-shadow effect to certain parts of the page and first explanation that popped into my head was saying that “can you add a kind of a “aura” to these parts?”.

While me and the front-end guy were learning to speak the same language and ranted over different button colors the marketing guys were tough on selling the end-product. I must say I was very impressed with how good they were at it. It really helps to have more than just one marketing guy in the team, by end of day 2 we had already 10 event promotors backing us up and ready to start using this new web-platform for ticketing.

End of day 2 was tough on the back-end guys as well, it took them a while to get the Facebook log-in and data side up, mostly because none of us was really experienced with building such things and needed to learn on-spot. The other complication was that neither of them spoke the same coding language. All in all, by 3am in the morning they had at least figured some of the stuff out so next day we could make the final sprint to the end.

Final day came, I as a designer didn’t have much to do then to hold my team’s hand while they were trying to finalize the code and get the website up. We had data to put in it, content was ready… it was just about getting it to run which we finally got done as well by 5:30pm. After that it was pitching, meeting the president, seeing where the rest of the teams had got to and enjoying the abeyance. It’s amazing how the tension disappears once everything you could’ve done is done and the outcome has been pitched.

What did I learn from it all?

First of all, never be afraid to take part in such events as there’s always something to do even when you’re a designer that has never really done web-design (which is me). Secondly, the team is everything, if you’ve got people that are passionate about the idea, anything can be done and will be done to make sure the project gets finalized. Third, don’t forget to sleep, as being tired won’t help deliver the product. Fourth, all ideas are great ideas and worthy of being developed. And last but not least, have some fun, network, talk, collaborate and enjoy the experience.

Would I do it again? – In a heartbeat! If this got you excited you should know that this event is definitely not the last one. There are more events upcoming in Europe very soon, so tune in and take part! It’s worth the experience!