TEDxAdventure: The Workshop

Help Build the Future of Retail.

That was the hook. But, like all good stories, we have to start with the conflict. Ok... that was a little dramatic. I think a better way to put it is that we have to

Start with the problem

Talking about technology is kinda like talking about wrenches and hammers. Sure, maybe they're neat in their own right. But really, they don't do much for you until you use them to solve a problem. 

Recently we held a TEDx Adventure at the shop and challenged the participants to use the their imagination to come up with a cutting edge solution to a problem we face at the shop.

Welcome everyone by name

One thing we pride ourselves on is our client experience. We work extremely hard to make sure everyone who comes in feels like they are the only person in the world. We welcome them by name, remember important events of their life, and pick up conversations where they left off.

We are helped in this endeavor by our real time notification system. It sends us important details about a client 15 minutes before their appointment.

This gives our team a huge advantage in that they're not having to cram at the beginning of the day to remember everyone. It means they only have to focus on the person who's coming in next.

Ok, so what's the problem?

The problem comes when the client is arriving and we have to whip out our phones to see the last notification. Or, even worse, we have to unlock our phone to review the notes. It may not seem like that big of deal, but when you're trying to do it as a client arrives, it can be a pretty time sensitive ordeal.

Also, we don't really like the idea of our team being on the phone while clients are walking in. It's not too bad, but still, it may not leave the best impression.

Back to the adventure!

So, here's what we did. After giving a brief tour of the shop, the problems we faced, and how we used technology to solve them, we broke into groups and did a 20 minute session. Each team tried to use any idea they could come up with to make it easier for our team to get the information they need as quickly and easily as possible.

After 20 minutes, each team presented their solution... but, wait... before I get into that, let me tell you about our Tech Resources.

WTF do you mean, "Tech Resources?"

Since almost nobody at the meetup built technology professionally (and we wanted to actually build whatever the coolest solution was), we needed to have some experts in the room to help vet ideas. The jobs of each resource was not to give ideas, but to simply tell attendees if their ideas were feasible or cost prohibitive.

Meet the Resources

Steven Boyd
Software + Product

Jon Hemstreet
Software + Iot

Anthony Chavez
Software + IoT

Tony Blank

Johnathan Nicolosi
Robotics + Electrical

Eric Shultz
Project Management

Steven Eis
Electrical + Mechanical

Terry Tomsha
Industrial + Interior Design

Round 1

The first round yielded some interesting ideas, but it was clear where everyone was going: wearables.

Ideas ranged from in-ear headsets to watches. In fact, I now believe that this type of situation is the only legitimate use for an Apple Watch (don't tell Apple).

After getting feedback from the resources, the teams went at it again. They were encouraged to mix it up, join other teams, or break off and go solo. Then, they attacked it again. This time, they were instructed to get more specific. Instead of saying things like, "...display important information," we needed them to say specifically what that information was going to be. First name? Last name?

Round 2

By the second round, the teams had all settled on an Apple Watch. Each differed in how they wanted the information displayed. It was a lot of fun to watch them go and ask the Spruce team about the details they thought were important. That's when I first heard someone mention:

The Novel Note

This was a brilliant idea suggested by one of the teams that would give our team the ability to leave a Twitter'esque note about a client to be displayed on the watch when they arrive.

A very "signal vs. noise" aware approach. Cut out the BS and only bring up the one thing we know our client thinks is important. The rest can be pulled up later.

All teams agreed that showing the photo and name of the client would be best, but differed on things like "how many visits."  One argument was that we probably only needed to know if the client was a first time visit or not.

What happens next?

Well, we're going to build it! We're going to take the best parts of each idea and combine them to make our first prototype. It'll mean buying some Apple Watches, but I guess I'll just have to suffer.

Connect with us on pretty much any social network to stay on top of our updates and to see the progress we make!

Onto Techstars + Target Week 5

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