KAYR drew inspiration from the caremongering movement that grew around the world in light of COVID-19. Here, we saw the creation of hundreds of social media groups where people rallied together, often in the thousands, to offer or request help in their local communities. And when people needed advice, grocery delivery or extra supplies, these groups played an important role in helping those in need. Here's an article from the BBC about the movement, which indeed started in our very own Canada: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51915723.
Further, our group has been inspired by the actions & sacrifice of so many essential workers on the frontlines. COVID has revealed many gaps in our systems, but also the good in people who to want to serve.
There are many who need help with everyday things in these COVID times, whether for childcare, grocery delivery, advice or more. The Caremongering movement shows just how many people are willing to give that help.
Going beyond social media & Facebook, how do we better connect help with those who need it?
What it does
KAYR provides a platform to connect those who want to help with those who need it. It provides a user interface that is much cleaner than Facebook threads or social media , allowing for users to easily post when they want to offer help or need a hand, filter across these posts & communicate with those that may be a match.
And there's another unique element to this platform, inspired by Blockchain technologies: a Karma system.
Here, we create a community where everyone who joins is rewarded with a certain amount of Karma (1,000 points). Karma can then be shared with other users who help you, thus allowing one to accumulate Karma points... Think of it like XP (Experience Points) in modern games. And with many points, you can move to different Karma Levels. And with new levels, one can unlock new rewards, such as store discounts or coupons (as we envision in the future).
And why is such a system important? Because of the dozens of people we interviewed, 77% of those who needed help from strangers said that it was important for them to recognize or reciprocate an act of kindness, even if not in traditional means. Karma offers a way that people to show appreciation & create a more caring, unified community.
How I built it
I did not build it. The team did.
Each of us had particular roles in the project, with my role being more on the project management & ideation side. For me therefore, it was really important to do market research, with my reaching out to dozens of people across 30+ different caremongering movements in the country. From here, our two tech specialists worked together on the front-end and back-end sides, building out the posting environment on the one end, and screenshots plus a landing page via Wix on the other. For the back-end, a variety of programming languages were used, and in operation, the systems created mimic some of the mechanisms used in the blockchain, especially in the delivery of Karma points.
Finally, we had a video specialist on the team whose job it was to articular what we do, and showcase the work our team did so far (112,000 lines of code!!), plus all the potential we see for this concept in the future.
Challenges I ran into
The greatest challenge for me is that I am not a technology specialist (more on the business side). And hence, the early part of this journey was centered on recruiting teammates to carry this project forward. This proved to be an exhilarating journey, although we did have some issues: One teammate we initially recruited had to drop out due to his school getting in the way. Others also found it difficult to make time in the middle of other commitments.
And yet, we had a team that often worked till 2-3 AM to get things done, sacrificing many a night of sleep. Although there are always challenges for getting together as a team, I'm proud of what we pulled off.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
This team. Truly, we found a team that complemented each other exceptionally: Each being a specialist in key project tasks. And really, everything else I am proud of is because of this team: The five-minute video we've developed is the brainchild of animator Mai Tran, the 112,000 lines of code mentioned to create a functioning (if still-developing) website is thanks to the work of Tara Mathers. The front-end designs you see is those of Deanna Castano. And beyond that, we're thankful for so much advice given throughout our journey, and particularly from Nikheel Premsagar of the Government of BC who provided us great insights into maintaining the safety of our platform.
When you have a team like this, you can accomplish anything.
What I learned
Humility. This journey was touching for me, as I saw people willing to invest hundreds of hours of their time to make this vision happen. I am eternally grateful to my team. Truthfully, I was not always the easiest person to work with, often demanding, often confusing. But they stuck with it, and we're excited for what we created.
And another thing... We're proud at a personal level for honing new skills in this hackathon that we had not tried much before. Our back-ender Tara built user accounts for the first time. Our front-ender Deanna learned how to use Wix and expressed learning lots about teamwork as well. Our video creator Mai was excited to teach herself a few new animation hacks. And I learned most about communication as a leader & how important it is to listen.
Very early in this hackathon, our team established the importance of giving it our all, learning & having fun in the process! And, while the journey is just beginning, we do believe that we did just that :).
What's next for KAYR
Canadian Thanksgiving! That's the date we've set us to complete our Version 1 web platform & get things launched. Already, we've been doing some betas in a test environment, and do have a few test-users signed up.
And after that, we want to explore a mobile app, likely for December 2019 if resources allow. This is especially due to ~60% of people in our surveys advising they might prefer a mobile interface, although most liked the web as well.
And finally, moving into next year, we want to actively explore two markets: (1) First, we would like to tap into existing caremongering communities in Canada that are organized via Facebook. This has already been started, and we are connected with ~30 such groups in Canada so far. And (2) We want to explore the $2.4B (in Canada) student services market, as we believe there is potential for us to create private, internal KAYR communities for university clients (i.e. a B2B model), perhaps even in conjunction with other social platforms like Facebook or HiQ.
And this is just the beginning... While our initial target is local-focused (in Canada), we see potential for the KAYR concept to gain traction around the world. It will be excited to see how the project develops!