Journal: Migo

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Journal entry: 20 Nov 2017

Nicola Holden: Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Is time speeding up or is it just me?! As I write this we have one week to go until the final judging for C-Prize. That feels like the fastest 4 months of my life.

The other thing that feels too quick is the presentation time – we have 20 mins to communicate to the judges all the ways Migo is great, all the challenges we've overcome and have yet to overcome, all the ways Migo could help in the world.... It's like speed dating for innovation!  It's forcing us to really focus in on the most important stories, data, ideas and results to tell.

The team is in overdrive finishing up the last bits of work, and collecting the last crucial bits of feedback.

Looking back, we've learned so much throughout the C-Prize journey. I've realised how important it is to have the right skills and personalities on your team. I feel very grateful to Team Migo for working so hard and really 'showing up' with their effort, experience, skills, open minds and positive attitudes. The only thing I'd change, if I could do it all over, is to have us all working in the same room – all the time!

Thank you to everyone involved; to our team, to Callaghan, our fellow finalists, and to all the people who've given us feedback to make Migo what it is today.

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Journal entry: 7 Nov 2017

Nicola Holden: At the time of writing, we have 2.5 weeks to go until the final judging for C-Prize. We have this date firmly in our sights and make decisions based on what we need to get done by that day and what can wait until after C-Prize. A big part of that is deciding what can realistically be achieved, and what is really important to meet (exceed hopefully!) the judging criteria.

Personally, I'm focused on being able to tell the story of Migo – why Migo is important, the human needs it caters to, and the challenges and successes we have had.

These last two weeks the tech team have continued their hard work, putting in long hours on top of their already busy day-jobs and family lives. Everyone is stretched and challenged. I've been working on a login-only section of our website designed for users - where they can see their data, edit their settings and access all the support Migo offers. The other part of the team has been engaged in intensive user testing and user interviews. 

When we tell people about Migo, and it to them, the overwhelming response is YES! "This is great", "I would definitely like to use this", "Migo could really help me".

There is nothing more motivating, inspiring, and rewarding than having your hard work affirmed by the people you are designing for. A huge thank you to all the people who have taken the time to speak to us, who have been so honest and open about the struggles they experience, and who have contributed their ideas to make Migo better and better with every conversation. Without all these people, Migo would not be nearly as rich, multi-layered, and holistic as it is now. 

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Journal entry: 24 Oct 2017

Nicola Holden: C-Prize Bootcamp #2 was the first time the members of Team Migo have all been physically in the same place! We met Brad (who lives in Wellington) in person for the first time this week - he is taller than he seemed on skype (ha ha). It was so great to be all sitting around a table together. We made huge headway thanks to this opportunity. Decisions were made with lightning speed, challenges were clarified and taken on.... it was great to be a part of.

The Bootcamp itself was great. I personally loved the innovation challenge where we mixed up all the teams and had to design a future-tech hair-care product/service. It was great to work with some of my fellow competitors designing up crazy hair solutions. We also enjoyed spending time with our buddy - this time Amanda from Southern Cross - who was very astute, informed, and super helpful to have at our table.

We found the advice about final presentation night particularly important – we are acutely aware that even if we have the most awesome product in the world, if we can't tell the story in a way that helps the judges empathise with our users, then the importance of Migo will not be understood. 

Since Bootcamp, we've been working hard on Migo. The back-end team is making great headway and the user team has been doing loads of user interviews. Interviewing people about their mental health and seeing if Migo might help is always a hugely meaningful process. The stories we hear are of massive challenges, strength, resilience, and love, and people are always very excited about Migo and the ways it could help them and their loved ones. We finish interviews buzzing with excitement, and doubly determined to make a difference to the mental health of the world.

Oh and finally, we’re delighted to announce that www.migo.co.nz is live! Please take a look.

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Journal entry: 9 Oct 2017

Nicola Holden: This week Team Migo had a workshop session with Potter IP - the Intellectual Property Strategy advisors. This full-day session was generously paid for by Callaghan as part of our C-Prize finalist package. We learned so much in this session, all leaving with glazed-eyes and lots to think about. Jane and Alan from Potters made the complicated world of Intellectual Property (IP) seem understandable, relevant and accessible. It was an amazing opportunity and I will always remember and apply the things they taught us. Next up we are having a shorter session with them where we will focus just on Migo, and how to design our IP strategy relevant to our business goals.

Meanwhile, work on Migo continues. We are constantly tweaking, adjusting, hacking, problem-solving, revising, pivoting and evolving…. Nothing stays still! We are very aware that we have just over 6 weeks to go - we're pushing hard to make Migo the best we can. We have also started lists of things to do beyond C-Prize. Mental health has so many areas with opportunities to contribute – the more we do the more work we see needs to be done. We have had to prioritise, for now, focussing on tangible, achievable goals for C-Prize. Beyond that, we have big dreams for Migo. This is just the beginning.

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Journal entry: 27 Sep 2017

Nicola Holden: It's been another busy two weeks for Team Migo! Earlier this year, in the early conceptual phase of our development, we did a bunch of user testing and pivoted our idea for Migo several times. Now, with Migo version 1.0 (now more like 1.3) up and running, we are continuously testing so we can constantly refine it up to the C-Prize deadline at the end of November and beyond. One of our team members, Emma (pictured), is our first official Migo user.

The great thing about testing on one of our team is that we can get far more feedback than we would if we were testing on a member of the public. Emma has loads of experience in the mental health sector, so her observations as both user and professional are highly insightful. This process has brought up lots of questions, problems, and opportunities - which is great. We've also made a plan to recruit more people to test with over the coming month once Migo is slightly more refined. We have split our team into two smaller groups to have more focused work on our two key areas - 1. The back-end of Migo - making mood-aware technology, 2. The user experience - young people suffering anxiety and depression and the friends and loved-ones that support them.

This week the team has been acutely aware of the enormity of the mental health issues in our country, particularly for young people. Migo has a hugely difficult, but very important task - to have a positive impact on the lives of young people with anxiety and depression. This is a dire need, and, as a team, we have been feeling the weight of this need and responsibility. Mental health is highly complex - interrelated with addiction, dysfunctional relationships, and importantly - our individual relationships with ourselves. I think our biggest challenge this week has been to not feel overwhelmed in the face of this complex but crucial challenge.

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Journal entry: 13 Sep 2017

Nicola Holden: It's been a huge 2 weeks for Team Migo. We started off by contacting our Callaghan C-Prize bootcamp 'buddy' Jonathan to see if he knew anyone to help us with some of the tech development parts of Migo. We were open to the idea of either paying someone, or, for the right person, adding a new team member. Jonathan spread the word around his network, and before I knew it I had an inbox full of interested people - all highly qualified and keen to help! Wow! This taught me that NZ is full of talented people, all inspired to help with the tricky issue of mental health.

After talking to several of the applicants, we decided to offer a team position to Brad Stillwell. Brad is a senior developer at Xero. He works with machine learning every day and has already contributed a huge amount to our progress with Migo. I'm starting to feel like I'm part of a team of super-heroes! "With our powers combined.... We will make a difference for people with anxiety and depression!"  

We've also been in touch with Callaghan's IP landscape researcher Alison, who has kindly given us a huge amount of information about the state of mood-aware tech in the world at present. I've made a logo for Migo, we've bought a web address (look out for www.migo.co.nz being launched in the near future), and we've purchased test devices - smart watches and phones - to test Migo with.

And, the most exciting thing…. thanks to Guillermo’s hard work, Migo version 1.0 is a go!!!! It's an extremely basic version, just to start collecting data, but it’s still our first working prototype. Brad has also developed the first version of our Machine Learning model (see what I mean by super heroes?!). Next Leon will help to get the levels and types of biomarkers set correctly.

Lots of hard work ahead still, but it feels like we are making huge progress.

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Journal ENTRY: 23 AUG 2017

Nicola Holden: We're designing a mood-aware wearable device and system to help young people with anxiety and depression. Since being named as finalists, we’ve been really busy. We’ve chosen our IP advice provider (thanks Callaghan!), had an initial meeting with them to get advice about 'conflict of interest' and IP ownership, and have planned a full-day workshop with them.

System development continues apace too – Nic has been working on our user interface, Guillermo has been planning all the tricky back-end tech stuff, and Leon has been working on Migo from a psychotherapy perspective. Emma has set us up on Trello which we are using for project management. And we’re excited to say that we’ve also recruited a new team member - Maru Nihoniho - an award-winning game developer and all-round awesome woman. Maru has already helped us refine Migo with her experience in developing games for mental health. 

Bootcamp reinforced that we've done well to keep our users as the focus, but we had our minds expanded by the Callaghan scientists we met. They helped us to think of many ways to achieve our goal of making a positive impact on young people's lives living with anxiety and depression.

To be honest, we got a bit overwhelmed with all the technical possibilities and challenges, so we’ve regrouped and come back with new insights. There’s no doubt that we’re becoming more efficient as a team – to begin with, we had meetings for every decision, but now we get on with our individual tasks and regularly report back to the others. But every week is crucial in this. We are super aware of meeting every project milestone, so that we can achieve all we hope to in the time we have. To help, we’ve recruited some coding support. Our goal is to have a working prototype within the next 3 - 4 weeks…. watch this space to see if we manage it!