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The third edition of Coopathon – a Cooperative Hackathon was organised virtually from 11th December (Friday) to 14th December (Monday). This is the first time a cooperative hackathon was organised as a fully online event and for an international audience. Coopathon 3.0 aimed to identify and solve contemporary problems and pressing challenges in the social and service sectors through an amalgamation of youth energy, technology integrations, and cooperative values & principles.

 

It brought together a diverse pool of partners and mentors to provide pre, during, and post-event support, mentorship, and industry-connect for the participants to develop successful solutions. It was organized with the support of nine partner organisations from six countries and featured 13 mentors from nine countries, bringing expertise from diverse fields to add value to the prototype-building process.

 

It received over 80 entries from 12 countries, out of these, 41 teams were shortlisted to participate in the 72-hour coopathon. These teams worked rigorously for 72 hours, undertook training sessions, were supported by their mentors, and made their final submissions. With amazing response from the participants, 10 teams were selected as the finalists to pitch live in front of the judging panel - Ms. Amaia García Fernández, Co-Leader Mondragon Team Academy, China & Asia; Mr. Jack Sim, Founder, Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) Hub, Restroom Association of Singapore, the World Toilet Organization, and the World Toilet Day initiative; and Mr. Tarun Bhargava, Chairperson International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Tank and Joint General Manager, IFFCO.

 

All the 10 finalists made a presentation and answered questions from the judges; they were evaluated based on their live presentations, technology relevance, and cooperative/ collective models. Inno Game Coop from Indonesia grabbed the first position followed by MYCOON and Design for Impact respectively, both from India.

 

Inno Game Coop from Indonesia is an online coop hub producing digital products like games. With expertise in business development, software engineering, and designing, the trio came together to start Inno Game Coop. Presently, at a minimum viable product stage, they have developed basic features of the gaming app which is being tested by the coop members and product users. The model enables anyone with digital and creative skills to join the platform, learn new courses, find teammates, collaborate, create games, and earn money.

 

We found the mentorship during Coopathon 3.0 to be helpful as it led us to mould our business model into a cooperatives business model, said Yoseph, one of the team members.

 

 

 

They now require funding to market their product, meet operational costs, and scale-up the project. Additionally, they require mentorship to see if the core idea of their coop business, the solidarity mechanism for freelancers, is working and ensure that their coop system can protect their members from unfair revenue systems. The next plan of action involves securing funding, marketing of prototype to get initial traction, registering the cooperative and increasing coop membership, establishing key partnerships, and development and scaling up of the platform. The pitch video of the team can be viewed here.

 

MYCOON from India is led by three engineering graduates who have expertise in sustainable development, mechanical engineering, and business development. ‘Myco’ is a Greek word for mushroom and ‘Coon’ is a vernacular word for mushroom in Kerala, a state in Southern India. Their innovative model grows biomaterials using agriculture residues and fungal mycelium, creating employment for the local youth in the production process.

 

Coming from engineering backgrounds, it was easy for them to manufacture the biomaterials which are completely natural and biodegradable, but they also wanted to create impact through their business. The products can have a great potential in construction industries as a sustainable alternative to wall and ceiling panels and plywood; also, as a replacement for Styrofoam based packaging. Coopathon came at a time when we were keenly looking for a platform to share our innovation, said Advait, the team leader of Mycoon.

 

 

 

 

Now, they require mentorship and guidance for setting up a cooperative business and they plan to utilise the prize money of US$ 2,000 to pilot the project with farmers and create the minimum viable product. The pitch video of the team can be viewed here.

 

Design for Impact from India is a group of five multidisciplinary designers studying human-centred design and visual communication. They also bring expertise in curriculum development, marketing, education, and programme management through their professional careers. To bring in design thinking and mindset in the contemporary education system, they have developed a concept of Learn, Earn, and Invest. To channelise the young minds in solving real-world problems through design thinking, Design for Impact is a platform for youngsters to learn design and creative skills. Further, utilise those skills to earn through gigs and invest a proportion of their income in learning further.

 

Coopathon helped them get more insights into their model and solidified the base for their future business while working together. The hackathon model helped us expedite the development process and was great international exposure for us, said Ravi, the team leader.

 

 

 

 

Post coopathon, they seek mentorship and guidance to conduct a pilot 2.0 to validate their concept, refine their business model by testing, and develop the platform for scaling-up. The pitch video of the team can be viewed here.

 

Mr. Balu Iyer, Regional Director, ICA-AP, said that for him Coopathon has meant addressing issues of today by leveraging technology, engaging youth, and using cooperatives as a vehicle. He was very impressed seeing all the presentations by the teams which have incorporated these elements. He also said that ICA-AP is keen to support these ideas as the real impact of Coopathon 3.0 will be to see these ideas being implemented and make a difference.

 

ICA-AP got in touch with the first prize winning team Inno Game Coop to congratulate them and know more about them. The conversation can be viewed here.