We were inspired by the fact that there is a massive problem in Canada with food insecurity, when tons of edible food ends up in landfills every year. We decided to name our project Dana, inspired by the Buddist practice of Giving.
What it does
This is a platform that connects three tiers of users to each other: conscious consumers, restaurants, and charities. Restaurants regularly donate their excess food -- this would usually just go to the landfill, but instead it is given to local charity groups to help feed the less fortunate. In exchange, they are now a member of the Dana Network, which is essentially free promotion and event marketing. This means that Dana will help fill restaurants during its non-peak hours through special customer offers available to both individuals and community clubs and organizations.
Our conscious consumers and organizations are people who want to make a difference with their wallets, while saving money at the same time. They will get access to exclusive deals provided by our restaurants. A small fraction of this transaction will be donated to Dana in order to cover operating costs and to keep the model sustainable.
How we built it
We will be using a website called DanaNetwork.ca, which takes care of most of the logistical and marketing aspects of the brand, as well as one-on-one relationships with Organizations, Restaurants, and Charities.
Challenges we ran into
The main challenge that we ran into was that this was our first time using Ruby-on-Rails. Learning an entire new language and development paradigm was a challenging but fulfilling experience. Also, finding ways to incentivise the restaurants so that they were excited to join the network was the focus of much careful consideration.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud that we were able to overcome our main challenges. We were able to power through and learn a lot about Ruby on Rails and (mostly!) finish a product. Also, we went out into the community and actually talked to local business owners to ask them about their problems and how we could help face them.
We're especially proud that, while we were expecting to make something small and insignificant this weekend, we've ended up creating something that we are all passionate about and that we feel can truly make a difference.
What we learned
We learned that you can't hack in a bubble, and that it is better to get out there and really interact with your users before you create something. We also learned a lot about databases and Ruby on Rails, and that it may not be as difficult as it seems to make a positive difference in our community.
What's next for Dana
This project really captured our imagination, and we have many big ideas for where we could take the project! We called these "stretch" goals, and they would be the next obvious steps after creating the platform, but were impossible to make in a 24-hour period. Some examples include: Social Media Integration Mobile Platform Three tier food Quality Donation (Human grade, Animal Grade, Fertilizers) Dana key chain card Dana Festivals Live Alerts