Auka participates in Virke Hackathon …and our very own UX Lead, Martin Braaten Grina, wins!

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This month, Martin Braaten Grina and Lars Oskarsen from our product and tech team were invited by Virke in an exclusive hackathon to find innovative solutions in the physical retail industry; an industry that continues to undergo constant disruption with international entrants and changing behaviours of consumers.

We’re proud to announce that Auka’s Martin Braaten Grina was part of the winning team at the hackathon. So, we sat down with Martin to ask him more about his experience, collaborating with like-minded people on the Color Magic cruise, with 29 hours to come up with an innovative solution.

Q: Can you provide some background for this hackathon?
This was a hackathon organised by Virke, the Enterprise Federation of Norway, who represents over 21,000 businesses with more than 250,000 employees in Norway. A handpicked group of people working within retail was gathered to look at how they could innovate the physical retail industry and make them stay alive and turn around the decline in revenue.

Q: Why was this a challenge that needed to be resolved? Why is it important for the industry?
Online shopping is killing physical retail. The revenue for physical retailers continues to decline and stores are being forced to shut down. At the same time, we still want physical retailers to have their presence, but more incentive is needed. This is an important topic and Virke wanted to gather the brightest people within the industry to actually try doing something about it.

Q: How did the hackathon take place?
The participants were split into teams of 4 and 5 before the workshop hosts and innovation specialists Siri Warren and Ida Norrby from DoPurpose Design led the group through a series of exciting innovation exercises to stimulate creative thinking.

It was two extremely intensive days with ideation, workshopping, field research in Kiel, testing, and preparations for the big test – the pitch. A group of experts within retail (the jury), among others Simen Staalnacke (known for founding the viral clothing line Moods of Norway), evaluated the different ideas/solutions and voted for the winner.

Q: In a short summary, are you able to share what your idea was?
The benefits of online shopping makes it easy for consumers to shop comfortably with their screens at home. It’s quick, easy and the best part; you get the goods delivered to your doorstep. We thought, why must there be a feud between online and physical retailers? Why can’t they live in harmony instead? So, we wanted to make the benefits of online shopping available for physical retail. That became our innovation objective.

Our idea got nurtured into Foodora for physical retailers. A premise for our idea is that the physical retailers must get online with their products, and that’s EASY. There’s a bunch of out-of-the-box eCom solutions with decent pricing out there –  a small price to pay for increased sales.

So, to the fun part. Imagine you’re browsing a physical retailer’s online shop in the city you reside in. The beauty of shopping physically in-store is that you get your hands on those awesome sneakers right away. So wouldn’t it be perfect to shop online from your favourite local physical retailer AND get it delivered within the hour directly from the store’s inventory? Just like Foodora.

But that’s not all of it. With an increasing engagement and demand around eco-friendliness, our idea proposes that virtually anyone is capable of transporting a package to you. It could be the idle taxi or Uber driver nearby, students on their way home from class, you on your way to or home from work. The list goes on… The combination of the best from online shopping and greener delivery methods, we think was the silver bullet in addition to the fact that we pitched the idea in a way that everyone just understood the value proposition instantly.

Q: How did it feel to win?
Who doesn’t like to win?! It felt amazing to get acknowledgement from a merited jury after 29 intense hours of ideation and a lot of back and forth. The other teams also had amazing ideas. Interestingly, most of the teams had completely different approaches to different aspects of retail challenges.

Q: What did you learn from this experience, and what will you take away to your role at Auka?
We did a bunch of exciting innovation exercises to stimulate creative thinking. Those exercises would be fun to do at Auka. It’s also quite fascinating to experience how much you actually manage to cover within 29 hours with talented people who are passionate about something. It’s also something about the mindset and atmosphere being at a hackathon that makes you dare to ask those silly questions and put all prestige aside.