Event August 02, 2017

Summer Academy: The Pitch

Hannes Van de Velde

Director of Product Design

Frederik De Bosschere

Lead Strategist

We started our 3-day Design Sprint by listening to people from Refu Interim share their challenges. It’s only fitting that we ended it by showing them the solutions our graduates came up with. 

In this other blogpost, you can discover how the teams went from understanding and defining the problem, over ideating and exploring, to finally prototyping their solution. Here, you can discover what they came up with. 

Denée, Sunday morning. It’s been a short night, and already the teams are starting the day early. In a few hours time, they will be back in Ghent to pitch their solutions to an audience of friends and family, fellow students and lecturers, In The Pocketeers, and most importantly: the jury. Judging our graduates are Raad, Micha & Xavier from Refu Interim, Fedasil IT Director Tomas Jansen, and In The Pocket’s Jeroen (CEO) and Hannes (Director Product & Design).

Sunday morning, praise the dawning. It’s just a restless feeling by my side.

The Velvet Underground & Nico

3 PM. The participants have been buzzing with energy all weekend long, but can they spark up the jury and convince them of their solution?

The main challenge for Refu Interim: “Reach out to a very diverse audience, inform them about their opportunities, and enthuse them to take action. How can we improve communication to become more clear and efficient?”. Let’s find out how the teams tackled that challenge. 


Team 1: Jonas, Jef & Shane

This team focused on providing clarity and automatisation for Refu Interim: “If we can automate communication, we can unburden Micha and free up time for things that really matter.” That’s why they created “the very patient and reliable follow-up machine”. Interesting about their approach, is that it doesn’t introduce a new app or channel to refugees: “We wanted to keep using the channels the refugees are familiar with, to avoid creating a new threshold.”

The team expanded the existing Refu Interim tool with a Trello-like overview. The screen keeps track of urgent tasks, to-do’s and reminders. A dedicated Jobs-screen clearly shows the status, urgency, deadline, … of each job posting. Within a job posting, Refu Interim can see of all of the potential workers, and send them the offer.

This is when the real magic happens. The system will automatically choose the refugee’s preferred communication channel (e.g. WhatsApp), and start there. If it’s not getting a response, it’ll switch to another channel (e.g. SMS or email). No time wasted on sending reminders.

For the refugee, things are kept easy. They receive a text in one of their preferred messaging apps. If they want to know more about a job, they can click a unique URL, generated by the system. This mobile-optimised page contains all of the info, both in Dutch and their native tongue. They can decline or accept, and when do choose to do so, they can easily add the job to their calendar-app (again, a familiar tool). In the background, all information is sent to Refu Interim (read status, accept or decline, etc.).

A win for both sides. 

Team 2: Kevin, Louka & Felix

The second team approached the communication challenge from the perspective of the refugee, and tell us a story about 34-year-old Mohammed from Iran. According to Mohammed, Refu Interim really helps him, where other big organisations are often too slow. Their mission was to improve productivity for both refugees and Refu Interim “so the people from Refu Interim can spend more of their time on educating future workers and growing their organisation.” Other design principles they adhered to? Everything needed to be very intuitive (e.g. use of icons over copy) and real-time.

After the refugees have been introduced to Refu Interim (during one of the intake days), they are on boarded onto the Refu App. Here, they see a visual overview of:

  • Upcoming offers
  • Confirmed jobs;
  • How many days the refugee can still work as a volunteer;
  • Past gigs.

From this overview they can confirm a job offer, and the Refu Interim dashboard is updated in real time. The Refu Interim dashboard is where Micha and his colleagues see all of the job opportunities and their status. 

As job day approaches, the worker gets an automated reminder in the form of a push notification. A few hours before the job starts, the worker is asked if he or she will make it. If we do not receive a positive reply, Refu Interim gets an alert in their dashboard, and they can contact the worker manually.

For both sides, keeping track of all of the different job opportunities can be a real hassle. The Refu App solves this very elegantly.


Team 3: Margot, Thibault & Bram

From all of the input provided by Raad & Xavier, this team pinpointed the following communication problems: it’s a hassle, manual, repetitive, time-consuming and prone to miscommunication. They came up with a very tangible challenge statement: 

“Abu, a 27-year-old Syrian refugee who wants to earn money for his family, needs a way to receive and confirm Refu Interim job offers easily, but he doesn’t want to miss opportunities because of miscommunication.”

Although they approached the challenge from the worker’s perspective, they too created a nifty overview for Refu Interim, where they can select potential workers and send them the job offer, with one simple press of a button. 

On the refugee side, this team aimed for maximum user-friendliness. Unlike the previous team, they went for mobile-optimised pages, rather than an app. On these pages, they see upcoming offers, and they can confirm or deny. Should they decline, the message is passed along to a back-up candidate.  

Same scenario when the actual job is approaching. They can confirm their attendance using a simple link, both the employer and Refu Interim get a confirmation email.

This solution meets the goals they had set out: low threshold for refugees, time gains for Refu Interim, and an automated flow for all of the parties involved.


And the winner is ...

It might sound like a cliché, but the jury and everybody at Refu Interim and In The Pocket were really impressed by the solutions and angles all of the teams came up with in only a few days time. So, all of the participants solved the challenge. But … a competition needs a winner, right?

The jury scored the solutions on two criteria:

  • How ready is the envisioned solution, does it use existing technologies, familiar channels, etc.?
  • How advanced was the prototype in terms of interaction design, technical architecture, etc.?

Eventually, the jury choose Jonas, Shane and Jef as the winners of the first ITP Summer Academy. Congratulations, guys!

Lastly, and most importantly, we would like to thank everyone involved, and especially our graduates. Their energy, eagerness and creativity were truly impressive. 

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