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Announcing our Community Prototypers for the Food Waste Challenge

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We’re excited to introduce you to SL, Maria, Hardik and Iris — our Community Prototypers for the Refinement phase of the Food Waste Challenge. They’ll be helping the OpenIDEO community move from ideas to action by building rapid prototypes to test out assumptions and uncover learnings.


From Left: SL Rao, Hardik Amin, Maria Paula Machado, Iris Yan

Shree Lakshmi Rao (SL) is currently a UX designer at Microsoft Research with a previous background in acting and engineering. She enjoys learning about new fields and applying her design thinking skills to large and seemingly unsolvable problems.

Hardik Amin is a digital strategy consultant with a mix background in UX design, Product Management, Business analysis and Space design. He is currently working at Avanade Digital which is an Accenture company located in Chicago, IL. In the past, he has participated with a human-centered design workshop with IDEO.org and +Acumen for social innovation. 

Maria Paula Machado is an Industrial Designer and design thinking professional based in Bogota, Colombia who is currently focused on design management, research and strategies. Maria is a foodie and traveler lover who loves to learn and share knowledge.

Iris Yan is a designer, entrepreneur, and recent graduate from Stanford University in Product Design. She is currently a product design engineer at Apple. She’s passionate about creating products that change habits or enable people to have a more effective lifestyle.


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Why prototype?

SL: Prototyping helps us validate the concept and understand if it's a viable product that consumers need. Prototyping helps us fail early and learn fast.


Maria: Prototype is the perfect way to validate our ideas in the real world with the real user. Prototypes give to us the chance to refine and create impact through our ideas.


Iris: Prototyping is one of the quickest ways to gauge an idea’s efficacy and gain immediate user feedback. Each challenge can have a wide spread of solutions — prototyping serves as the ultimate filter to bring an idea to light and communicate it effectively.


How have you reduced food waste in your daily life?

Hardik: Most of the time I try to refurbish meal leftovers for the next meal at home or if there is surplus while eating in a restaurant. I may share it with others or donate to homeless so it’s not thrown away. Also, traditionally we have a number of family events at home during the year with at least 10 people attending where we consume food for the event and then distribute the remaining within the group at the end of each event to reduce waste or throwing away surplus food.


Maria: I try to reuse the food that I can’t eat by making new recipes like smoothies, desserts. If can't find a purpose for surplus food I'll try to find people who really need the food.


Iris: To reduce food waste in my life, I found big companies consistently have a surplus of food and waste. In my previous job, I hosted user studies with catered food. After work at night, I would walk around SF’s Mission District and place extra sandwiches next to each resting body I found on the street.


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How might you support ideas in the Refinement phase?

SL: I'm hoping that my experience in design thinking and rapid prototyping will help teams take their ideas, concepts or existing services to the next level.


Maria: Like a mentor to guide them with the knowledge I acquired during the OpenIDEO Healthy Lives Challenge. I will also help them through my current experience with the Design Thinking method and user knowledge approach.


Hardik: I can support ideas by helping the team to prototype the product / service / business concept to share with team and potential customer segments and gather feedback for refinement. I can support in creating refining the business model where required by visualizing the whole system.


Join Iris, SL, Maria, Hardik and the rest of the OpenIDEO community in the Food Waste Challenge!


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Food Waste Challenge

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