This past weekend I participated in my second Startup Weekend event and had a blast – it was an action-packed 54 hours of great ideas, inspiring people, and a ton of creativity and quality work. I’d recommend these events to anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship, technology, or design.
Our small team of four, including my girlfriend who learned web development and built her very first website, created Nomzter. It’s a simple service that allows a group of people to find a restaurant they’ll all enjoy without a bunch of texting as they try to come to consensus. Instead, they each answer a few quick questions – no account or download necessary – and Nomzter selects the best spot based on individual food preferences, dietary restrictions, and physical location. Easy.
I wish I had taken more photos of the process, but it turns out that attempting to create and pitch a business in a weekend keeps you quite busy. I did get this shot of some early sketches, which turned out to be much like the final concept you see below.
The core design challenge was allowing users to quickly tell us the types of foods they like and dislike, so that Nomzter’s algorithm could determine the compatibility of potential restaurants for the group’s tastes. The more they tell us, the better recommendation we can make, so I wanted a fun interaction that would encourage them to provide as much data as possible. After considering more conventional options, I went for a Tinder-style gesture to either toss the food away if you don’t like it or feed it to Nomzter if you do. This interaction proved to be immediately understandable by users and is fun to engage with. I’ve included a full-size mockup below. I’d like to build a fully-interactive and animated prototype to test this further.
While we won’t be pursuing this idea, I did meet some amazing people and learned first-hand about the challenging business aspects of startups. There are many parallels what the user experience community has been pushing for years: get out of the building, test, iterate, and then get back out there. It was a great experience and I’ve already signed up for two more Startup Weekend events in the coming months.