2020 Founder Review: Product, Community and Challenges | Hacker Noon
Founder & CEO @ TAIKAI | Founder @ Blockchain Center Portugal
When I say that 2020 was a hectic year, this time everyone in the world agrees with me.
But unlike popular opinion, for TAIKAI, it was hectic in a good sense.
The pandemic situation has forced us to move completely to an online context, which was something we’ve been advocating since we launched. And it has brought some interesting opportunities in improving our product, scaling our reach to other countries on both organizations and community wise. We also had to bring partners that had to shift from offline experiences into using an online platform and learn how to interact with an innovation community in a completely remote way.
In that sense, our Product had to evolve to fill the gap between the offline and the online new context, moving in the direction we’ve anticipated, but suddenly accelerated in an extremely fast pace.
Let me share some of the highlights with you of the rollercoaster ride that was 2020, regarding Product Development, Community and Challenges.
- Back Office: We made our Back Office (Content Management System) available to our clients so that they could launch and manage challenges themselves, in a self-serving way.
- Matchmaking: One of our most important new features of the year. With Matchmaking it was made possible to join an online hackathon or challenge, without knowing any teammate prior to the competition. Now, when you join a challenge you’re able to seek specific profiles to build your team, based on availability and skills, but also to make yourself available to be hired for an existing team.
- Blog: We launched our Blog, as part of our TAIKAI Academy strategy, in order to bring more relevant content to our community.
- Main Net Blockchain Migration: After 1 year of testing our smart contracts in an EOSIO Test Net and realizing the potential that blockchain brought to our business, we’ve decided to migrate to the Telos Main Net, which besides being a very scalable and stable network, has a very vibrant and growing community.
- Referral: We started a Referral Program based on our own social token, the KAI, that somehow was interpreted as an Airdrop and made success especially among international YouTubers. 🤷♂️
- Marketplace: As part of our social token incentive program, we’ve launched our Marketplace, a place where you can spend your KAI for Swag. This is just the beginning to bring more offers from partners that can range from software tools, online courses, among other resources for our community to spend their KAI on.
- Rankings: Also related to our rewards program, we built Rankings for both Innovators and Backers. This makes it possible to see who is leading the way on innovation within our community.
- Mentorship: A mentor plays a significant role in an innovation challenge and in an online environment it is difficult to establish a relationship between the mentor and the team. We introduced a new role to allow the innovators to interact with challenge mentors inside the platform in this online context. Although this is a new feature, we already have some ideas to evolve it. 😉
- Live Streaming: Yes! It is now possible to have a live stream on our platform while the hackathon is happening. This way, an innovator doesn’t have to leave the platform and use a third-party service to watch an opening ceremony, webinars, live pitch competition or any other video moment that happens during the competition.
- New Challenge Page: By introducing Livestream, we’ve changed our challenge pages a bit, so that you’re able to have a greater User Experience.
How do you grow an online community? And most importantly how do you keep it engaged with so many different distractions and alternatives?
This was a tough challenge for us, but we made it happen.
We grew from around 3.000 members in 2019 to more than 35.000 members, essentially by organic growth. This makes us believe that we actually are building something different here and that we’re on the way to become a large and diverse community.
We managed to grow not only geographically, opening ourselves from Portugal to the world, but also in different profiles and experiences, moving from a university-centred community to profiles ranging from freelancers, startups and established companies, with not only technical skills but also profiles with business, healthcare and other backgrounds.
Our biggest challenge for 2021 is finding the right tools and incentives not only to keep growing the community but to make it more active and engaged with our platform.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. In March and April, all the physical events we had planned for 2020 were either cancelled or postponed. Being left without challenges for our community was not something that made sense to us and we knew that we could at least do something to help when the pandemic hit. That is why we’ve decided to launch Fight COVID-19 Open Challenge to find solutions faster than the virus spread. It was a great way to show how our platform can be used for social impact, which is why we began our TAIKAI for Good Program, for these types of initiatives.
After that, all went smooth and by having no physical borders on the internet, we managed to expand to other regions like the US, Brazil and some other European countries.
We went from an overall number of 10 Organizations in 2019 registered in our platform to 130 in 2020, moving from 12 launched challenges in 2019 to 33 challenges in 2020, with some other waiting to be launched.
I’d love to make some honourable mentions, but each one of them was important in our growth as a company, a business and a community.
What does 2021 look like?
We don’t have a clue! Predicting 2020 was a disaster, so we won’t take our chances to do so. 😅
But we do know this: by being a community-centred platform, our biggest priority is the talent that comes to us. We want to make sure that talent is valued and that our users have a place to showcase what they do best: building new innovative projects and ideas.
Considering that, our focus for 2021 will be:
- To give more tools for our community to be able to interact with the platform.
- To keep expanding to other regions to make our presence truly global.
- To improve our clients and organizations experience as a whole so that they can keep using TAIKAI as a way for them to reinvent the way they build new products.
- To have more diversity of challenges for our innovators to work on a challenge-based opportunity, for multiple organizations at the same time.
- To be not only an innovation management platform but more of a talent network and marketplace.
We have high expectations for 2021, as we believe that it will be a year that will truly put us on the map as a worldwide reference. But it will only be possible with your help! We want to grow together with you, which means that we’re more than happy to hear your feedback and thoughts on where we’re heading.
We also have some great news to share with you in 2021 that will blow your mind!
If you want to be a part of this and you feel like you can contribute to this movement in 2021 drop us a line at [email protected] to share your thoughts.
Oh! And I almost forgot!
Have some Happy (and safe) Holidays and in the name of the TAIKAI team we wish you a great 2021!
Also published here.
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