This week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Dorothy Ng, a previous ProtoHack Vancouver winner. Dorothy studies Political Science and Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University. She’s in her final year of study and recently completed an 8-month internship at BlackBerry. Dorothy oversaw the development, definition and delivery of multiple application features at BlackBerry. Her other experiences include assisting in teaching at SFU, directing marketing for TEDxSFU 2015, and organizing various student events. But, in her spare time, Dorothy loves to do pilates, search the web for flight deals, and cook tofu in a million different ways!
What motivated you to attend a ProtoHack experience?
Haha, well, I was scrolling Twitter one night and saw an article promoting ProtoHack Vancouver. I was totally drawn to the event’s vision and purpose, I was very intrigued. I thought to myself, “Wow, a code-free hackathon?… A tech event I can actually go to?” I mean, sure, I have a basic understanding of HTML, but I don’t consider myself technical, by any means. And it’s prevented me from exploring certain avenues as a student and entrepreneur. ProtoHack was the first hackathon I ever attended!
Can you tell us more about the ProtoHack Vancouver event?
Absolutely! I signed up for ProtoHack on my own, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a team at the event. But it was incredible, I connected with two of my future teammates on Twitter prior to the event and we met up in person to discuss our ideas and how our strengths would complement one another.
At ProtoHack Vancouver, I had the pleasure of working with Kelly Marciniw (HR and business development wizard), Adrian Jonklaas (operations and finance guru), and Jasmine Chin (queen of all things design and fintech) to develop sprout.ly, a platform dedicated to connecting aspiring gardeners with landowners. As I have experience with commercialization, design thinking, and public speaking, I supported the team by creating our slide deck, structuring the content of our presentation, and performing many (I kid you not when I say many) root cause analyses to identify if a market need existed. We also took home first place so that was pretty cool!
In the traditional classroom setting, a heavy emphasis is placed on theoretical knowledge.
At ProtoHack, we use applied, experiential learning in the form of a challenge, an innovation challenge, for the individual to learn.
How do you see this applied, experiential learning shaping the future of education?
I love how applied learning gives students the opportunity to use theoretical knowledge in a real-world environment. We can test our assumptions and hypotheses. This is why I had such a positive experience at ProtoHack. Through rapid iteration, I successfully explored a business concept. This process usually takes 4 months and we did it in less than 24 hours!
What was the most challenging part about the experience?
I’d definitely say the mental pressure! We only had 12 hours to define, develop, and deliver our idea. I constantly felt like I was behind schedule. At 7pm, I was torn between taking a break or chugging another cup of coffee. But as we validated our concept, our vision shifted and we gained new insight into the problem we were exploring.
How has this experience changed your perspective?
As a non-technical project manager, one of my biggest challenges is to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Through the ProtoHack experience, I realized that even if I lack the technical skills, I can still use my business acumen to lead a team and build a product.
What piece of advice would you give to first time ProtoHack attendees?
Don’t get bogged down by your idea! Instead, focus on design that will validate your idea. And don’t forget to take advantage of the mentors, and the entire ProtoHack team! They are there to support you, so if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! It’s such an incredible experience, because everyone is there to learn, and it’s so full of energy.
ProtoHack is gearing up for 2018, check our upcoming events to see what’s next!