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FIND MY FRIEND: Challenging young people to help elder's find their old friends.

FIND MY FRIEND is an online game-like platform, conceived to truly motivate young people to support older adults through a challenging user experienced: help elders find their good old friends & connect back with them. * It is structured in 'missions', that elders regularly post and young ones chose to 'lead' or 'join', fighting to accomplish them in a sort of 'analog-digital' experience. * It rewards the young one's efforts & successes with a 'stars-based' rating system. * It encourages collaboration among users –of all ages and places. * It builds a scenario where young ones & elders can have fun, share knowhow & memories, get closer & finally enrich their lives.

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig
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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

Let's invite young people to use all their knowledge helping elder's find their good old friends & connect with them.

Basically, FIND MY FRIEND creates a compelling story that motivates young & elder people to get closer & do valuable things, together. It is built upon two main insights: 

1) Young people love challenges & are digital-natives. 
2) Elders miss their good old friends & are NOT so digital

Mixing both insights, the –dreamed– end we aim to accomplish is to truly motivate the young ones to help elders find –& connect with!– their good old friends and, whilst doing so, build deep, valuable relationships among them, enriching all their lives and seizing hundreds of worth-telling stories.


1 · This is not a competition, but a challenge.
2 · You don’t win: you earn respect.
3 · With more stars & hearts comes more responsibility.
4 · We are just a group of friends struggling to find other friends’ friends.


We need to create a platform where ‘missions’ can be posted by elders, and then browsed and ‘assumed’ by young ones.

The storytelling & gaming concept is crucial to motivate the young ones. Hence, we propose a rewards-based methodology wrapped in an empathic & adventurous writing:
* Each mission will have a leader: the 1st young one that assumes it.
* A star-system will reward the leaders’ findings and successes.
* A hearts-system will let users say 'thanks' or give 'likes' to whom they want or admire or simply feel empathetic with. 
* Collaboration among users will be strongly encouraged.
* It might be age-independent: as time passes by, elders could asume ‘search roles’ and young ones ‘mission posting’ ones. 
* Yes, it’s a bit like openIDEO, just ‘tuned’ for our purposes.


1. Set the canvas: An elder (with the help of the support team) posts a mission.

2. Mission is accepted & published: the Find my friend platform shows the mission, which is initially in ‘FREE’ mode (ready for anyone to assume it and become it’s leader)

3. Young ones browse & assume the missions: the community of young ones visiting the platform browse the missions, and decide which one they assume. They do it either as leaders (1st one to take it) or as mission team members (they join another leader).

4. The quest starts: The mission is showed as ‘ONGOING’. It’s leader’s name appears besides it. The quest to find the friend has started.

5. Leaders & their teams start searching! They get deeper in the mission's clues, regularly recieve updates from the elder, and have sequenced contacts with him.

6. The mission is updated: the young one keeps track of his quest, and shares the advances with the community. Social media 'share your mission' buttons help spreading the concept all around.

7. Found your friend!: A multiple-endings struture allows the young ones to, either find the original friend, either contact with other family members or relatives –in case he passed away, or it simply seems not possible to locate one specific person.

8. Real life connection: The elder connects with his friends and, eventually, even meets them in real life.

9. Respect: The yong ones (leader and team members) & elders recieve stars & likes (hearts). Hence, they become respected members of the Find My Friend community. Other members ask them to help on their new missions. They keep on helping. And having fun.

10. Telling the story: Ideally, some of the support teams of Find My Friend would seize the most seductive quests, record short-films about them and share them, giving visibility to the project and re-inforcing it with new audiences, young ones and elders.


· While the QUEST is ACTIVE, elders could share clues and further infos with the young ones in daily / weekly basis, creating a more engaging and funny user experience.
· Young ones would be able to regularly share their advances in social media websites (like the typical 'candy crush' messages we are tired of seeing everywhere).
· Elders could regularly give 'additional stars' or rate the young ones advances, even 'unlocking' new layers of personal information concerning their story.
· Missions should try to be as wide as possible, ensuring multiple paths to happy-endings. For instance: about finding 'similar friends', not only one single old friend: An elder could use it to post a mission about re-connecting with a whole old-school group, or  about getting closer to other community members.


· YOUNG ONES: We imagine them feeling seduced by the 'CHALLENGING' aspect of our proposal + the 'FRIENDSHIP' core concept.  Indeed, the user experience we propose requires a certain mastering of digital tools, having access to all the Internet & being old enough to assume some 'analog' tasks (free access to calling / contacting other people or institutions, eventually traveling to another neighborhood, driving here or there, etc...)

> Over 18 or 20 years old, particularly interested in video games and / or ARGS (Augmented Reality Games), maybe with some previous social commitment experiences, and somehow related to friend-based activities (scouts, school or college associations...)

· ELDERS: We need them to connect with the somehow NOSTALGIC / LONELY FEELING of missing friends, and being a bit disconnected of their community. Also, a great motivation to join the platform could come from the fact that they eventually are not so connected to younger people regularly. 

> Old enough to have a weakened social network (maybe over their 70's) and without younger family members regularly visiting them. However, they should not be THAT old, as we need them to keep good track of their memories, and feel active & optimistic enough to decide taking part in our platform.



Who are the target users of your idea and how does your idea speak directly to their needs, life stages and goals?

YOUNG AUDIENCES might be over 18 or 20 years old, particularly interested in video games and / or ARGS (Augmented Reality Games), maybe with some previous social commitment experiences, and somehow related to friend-based activities (scouts, school or college associations, and so on) ELDER AUDIENCES should be old enough to have a quite weakened social network (maybe over their 70's) and without younger family members regularly visiting them. However, they should not be THAT old, as we need them to keep good track of their memories, and feel active & optimistic enough to decide taking part in our platform.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

Geographical and cultural / language structuring of the 'missions' posted might be required, as it is not likely that an elder from, say, Boston, ends up finding his good old friend in Barcelona... Indeed, a young one from California might not speak spanish in order to help and elder from Mexico find his buddy. Yet, the essence of the game means these things could very well happen, and they would finally enrich the user experience a lot! –How challenging is it for a young one to cope with contacting people from the other side of the globe, or try to speak foreign languages in order to pursue his challenge? So, the same weakness has big strengths and possibilities: as long as we just make it very easy to find missions close to your place, posted by elders that speak your own language, and in places where support teams can ensure the process is completed, we see no big problem in letting the 'missions' and users grow & spread internationally. However, should that happen, an effort would be required to adapt contents and posts to further languages. Platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter or the same openIDEO could be a nice reference: users can easily search for campaigns that are geographically or culturally 'close' to them, and still navigate and connect with all the projects available, world-wide. FIND MY FRIEND could be similar.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

· Randomly contact a group of elders and validate the emotional connection with the feeling of loosing old friends. · Test the main mission's statement with some young people, trying to validate wether it is truly motivating for them or not.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

All of them :-) In the validation process: · We need to be sure the idea of 'finding old friends I've lost contact with' is relevant enough for the elders. · We need to make sure the challenge we propose to the young ones is truly seductive for them. In the definition of the 'game': · Limitations and constraind need to be defined · Sketching a beta platform where missions can be posted by elders · Setting some timings & basic rules · Exploring gaming-like methodologies, taking them further or limiting them a bit... · .... I guess the concept needs to be simplified to its basics, so that it can be prototyped and tested with one or two first missions.

Evaluation results

16 evaluations so far

1. How well does this idea inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship?

Really well – this idea clearly activates young people to support older adults - 43.8%

It’s getting there but could use a bit more work to flesh out exactly how - 50%

This idea doesn’t really address how to inspire and engage young people as mentors to older adults - 6.3%

2. How clearly does this idea outline a path to scale so that it can spread from one local community to around the world?

Crystal clear – I understand all the milestones that this idea would need to hit in order to spread beyond one local geography - 31.3%

It’s pretty clear that this idea has the potential to scale but the steps needed to grow aren’t detailed enough - 68.8%

Not very clear – I’m not sure this idea is designed to scale given how it’s explained here - 0%

3. How well does this idea define who its target users are and the ways that it can meet their needs and life stages?

Very well – I understand exactly who this idea is meant to engage and how it will support them - 75%

Ok – I’m not sure I could tell you exactly who the target user is but I might be able to guess - 18.8%

It’s hard to tell who this idea is actually meant to engage and support - 6.3%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

It rocked my world - 37.5%

I liked it but preferred others - 50%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 12.5%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jian wu

i love this idea! "find my friend" will effectively motivate people to get closer and enjoy their life!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Congratulations Ignasi and Team!
Beautiful concept. The narrative and process of the game itself is so compelling itself - wow - I hope you develop it soon!
Best of luck!

Photo of Tracy Brandenburg

Yay! Congratulations team "find my friend!" And congratulations to all the winners for their inspirational ideas! Now let's take it to the next level and put these ideas to action! Can't wait to see these ideas turn into reality!!

Photo of Mike Hatrick

Very good idea - very creative!
I especially like that it creates a challenge for the young people. The older folks might not have such a strong online footprint, so finding them could definitely become a magical mystery tour, which would help to keep people engaged.

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Awesome idea Ignasi! The fact that it's rooted in friendship restoration is a lovely concept.
Best of luck to you!

Photo of Patrick Donohue

Wonderful idea, Ignasi!

Years ago on a trip to Ireland I was asked by my Irish grandmother to look for her cousin, a Catholic nun that she had lost contact with years before. I ultimately couldn't find her, and I definitely could have used help from a cohort of searchers on that mission. I also think the availability of online records we have access to now could have made a huge difference, too.

Just one suggestion, if you haven't already you may consider piloting the platform with specific user populations to start with: i.e. for the search teams see if you can get the missions picked up as a school assignment or a project at a few schools, and for the mission posters (or quest givers) try working with an assisted living centers with a lot of ex-pat residents from a particular country or region. For example, Irish residents in Boston looking for friends or relatives using search teams based out of a school in Dublin.

Not only could you learn lot from concentrating your users initially, it's a good way to get both social proof and the critical base of users you'll need to really scale the platform. For example, you reference Kickstarter and Indiegogo, both relied very heavily at first on concentrated groups of users (essentially the project owner's own social network) to prove their crowdfunding models, and it's only been more recently that they prioritized robust discovery tools to enable a global base of users looking for projects to fund. Likewise, the matchmaking app Tinder reportedly first relied on one of the cofounder's visits to her sorority chapters at different colleges to jumpstart their user base to a critical level.

Finally, have you considered using a different term than "young ones" for the searchers on your platform? It may just be me, but I think the term has a bit of a diminutive connotation that might be off-putting to younger users. Of course, I am long out of that target population myself, so don't take my word on it!

Again, wonderful work!


Photo of Patrick Donohue

By the way, if you haven't seen the Google Ad "Google Search: Reunion", I think it's a very touching (albeit fictional) example of your idea.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Fun stuff, Ignasi! As you evolve your thinking, it could be useful to help people better grasp how this idea could play out by describing some example scenarios which describe user journeys through some of the proposed activities you've outlined. Check this example: where a few simple scenarios were created in an attempt to explain the goodness on the idea in a human-centered way. (You can update your post at any time by hitting the Update Entry button up there on the right.) Or you could create an Experience Map using tools here:

Explaining the pathways may help to refine some details along the way – like what would help build trust in the process by older people? What would the touchpoints be? Would the young person make the first contact to the old friend or would that we left to the older person? Might they need in-person help with technology for some aspects? Lots of exciting possibilities and opportunities to consider!

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Hello Meena!

Thanks for your nice and detailed feedback. Absolutely, it still needs a lot of work... I just had no time to get deeper .-)

Certainly, building trust is crucial in order to get the whole process started (I foresee always an elder one posting the mission 1st).

However, I believe either the platform or a dedicated team of "support young ones" should be willing to help him creating the mission, posting it, refining it, etc...

Let's see if newt week I have some time to work on it a bit more.

Meanwhile, cheers & smiles!


Photo of Tracy Brandenburg

Fun idea! I'm just brainstorming here, but I'm trying to think of exciting ways to keep young people engaged. Like "Mission Impossible" could they choose to accept a mission or not? Maybe receive daily clues? And so as to keep the senior engaged, in dialogue, and not so isolated, perhaps the gamer could be allowed to ask them a question each day/week, such as "What is your fondest memory of this person?" I guess I'm picturing (as someone playing), maybe receiving a daily/weekly clue that could be a photo, story, old address, high school yearbook photo, etc.

Finally, I'm remembering that when I was in 4th grade a teacher had each of us become pen pals with someone in a nursing home. I could see this replacing this since young people don't really write many letters these days. This could be a very nice school project.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Nice builds, Tracy!

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Tracy, many thanks for your valuable feedback!

Love the concept of the daily clues, or somehow limiting / organizing the amount of questions the young one can ask the elder. That could definitely make the whole user experience more fun and exciting for the young one, and indeed get the elder more active and involved

We should find ways to ensure elders can easily interact with the platform.

Oh, and the pen-pals thing is just awesome :-)

Would you like to join the team and help me improving the 'gaming' side of Find my friend? I'm sure your inputs would be very valuable.

Cheers & thanks again!

Photo of Tracy Brandenburg

Hi Ignasi, thanks for asking me to join your team! Happy to help! So I just got a crazy idea - a twist on "find my friend," but something more like "Find my...." and it could be anything. For example, my grandmother used to talk about how ice was delivered. What? To this day I have no idea how that was done or what that looked like, or where they put the ice! But now with the power of the internet, I can probably find out what an "ice truck" is. People also have missing songs, toys, candies, etc. Can we find them? Could there be a series of things we have to find? And along the way, we might be able to play a song to someone who hasn't heard it in years, try a candy bar that a retro candy company makes, or finally learn where they used to put the ice when it was delivered! This might help bring back good memories to people while teaching young people about the past.

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Hi again! Welcome to the team, Tracy! And many thanks for your brainstorming. Definitely, there's plenty of great insights there... I particularly like the poetry behind the concept of taking back to present time good old things that might be just missed in nowadays life. The ice story is just lovely :-)

However, I have some doubts about how to integrate them right now: Don't you think we should be more focused on clarifying what 'Find my friend' is, rather than opening so much the possibilities at this current state of the process? I am afraid that, jumping towards new inspiring ideas, could weaken our final proposal. Eventually, once we've refined and prototyped better the 1st idea, it might be easier to integrate further concepts and stories, right?

I will use your inputs on the 'quest' methodology to refine a bit the experience map we would propose to the young ones. Please feel free to check the google docs with the doubts / questions I've noted. It would be absolutely great to have your feedback on that, too!

Cheers & smiles & thanks again for your precious contribution!

Photo of Tracy Brandenburg

Hello again! I see your point and it's a good one. I think I was trying to move away from the fact that this could turn into an unhappy ending (i.e. friend passed away). I was trying to think of how to make it a win, no matter what the result. Maybe one way around it is "Find my friend(s)" and then there is: a page from a high school yearbook, or a photo of various friends (a glee club), some way in which the search could end up - hopefully - in the discovery of a person with whom you could connect. Maybe there could be a page of photos (again, like a yearbook), and the goal could be to complete the yearbook page. Or the "win" for the young person.

The second question on my mind is about how to motivate young people to participate. I'm a teacher, so that's why I thought of this as a possible class project. But I guess if it's a game, young people don't need outside rewards, right? They just need a game format that is rewarding because it's so much fun, because you make it to the next level, get more challenges, improve your "score."
I don't play video games, do you? If not, maybe we could bring someone in who does who could help us understand how to build in rewards for young people. Also, where is your google doc with the doubts/questions? I'll check it out!

Thanks again for including me!

Photo of Rachel Happen

Wow Ignasi, what a great concept you have here! I love the idea to use a game to connect youth and elders with a common goal! This is a really interesting direction because it feels like a mutual endeavor, where everyone is one team instead of one party ‘teaching’ and the other ‘learning.’

I agree with your assessment above that finding ways to motivate the young participants is critical. I actually make a lot of (analog) puzzles and games, so I thought I’d drop in a few ideas for motivating young participants:

1. Broadcasting story-driven achievements to friends: I’d say this is almost expected now from digital games! Just as you’ve pointed out that young ones will receive the reward of completing a game (which is a thrill on its own!) and the satisfaction of helping out another person, you can amplify this feeling of accomplishment by providing an easy way for young ones to broadcast these achievements to their networks! I’d say it’s more important here for the young ones to able to share the story of the connection (who they helped, who they found, their relationship, the happy ending they helped bring about) than the fact that they ‘completed a mission.’ It would be great to find a way to communicate the depth of these achievements, beyond a simple post that mirrors the “I beat this level in Candy Crush!” updates we’ve all seen on FB and Twitter. :) I’m not sure exactly what this looks like, but perhaps sharing photos of the elder or friend? Or sharing stories that the elder has provided about their friend? Something that invites empathy!

2. Building community with congratulations: It seems small but the ability to quickly reach out to another gamer and say “hey, great job!” goes a long way toward establishing a community. Something as simple as a “kudos” feature for completed missions or missions in progress can be a very powerful motivator. Think of how great it feels to see people applauding your openIDEO contributions! :) A little bit of that glow rubs off on the applause-giver as well. Just as you have already included stars to congratulate users for tangible progress, a kudos system allows other users to show their appreciation for hard work and intent, even if it has not yielded results.

3. Creating multiple paths to a happy ending: I do like Tracy’s idea of opening it up beyond just connecting elders with lost friends, as happy endings are a powerful motivator and unhappy endings (as when the friend has already passed away) can be really discouraging. But I see your point about refining a focused concept. I like Tracy’s “Find my Friend(s)” take! Another way to go could be connecting elders to others with shared experiences. This would broaden the missions beyond finding a specific individual or one of several people, to finding any person that, for example, grew up in the same neighborhood or city in the same time period. You could even use genealogical tools to connect elders with people that share a common heritage or are distantly related to them. This would keep the focus tight on connecting elders with others they wouldn’t have otherwise connected with, without the pre-requisite that they knew these people before.

(Related: I love the idea of clues over time! This really makes it feel like solving a mystery!! Finding people may take a lot of digging. That little boost of optimism when you receive a new clue can be a great motivator. You could also reward gamers that manage to find the friend before very many clues have been unlocked!)

A final note, and just something to think about: it might be interesting to find ways for young ones to communicate the tools, or record the ‘digital path’, they used to find the friend. In an ideal world, the elders could learn something from this process that would make using digital resources a little less daunting. Maybe a little outside the scope of this concept, but an interesting aspiration! :)

Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see where this idea goes!

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Hi again, Tracy!

Thanks again. And awesome new thoughts!

Can't feel more aligned with your idea of making it easier to achieve a happy ending. Broadening the group of friends, not only to one unique old friend, sounds like a great way to do so. Will update it soon!

Rachel might have also a lovely point, when she opens the possibility of even connecting elders that, while not being old friends, could share interests, memories, places...

Great work!

Concerning the motivation, I will try to include too some of the 'easy sharing tools' Rachel mentions. They seem like a nice bonus, too, don't you think so?

Please keep checking the updates and sharing any other thought you may have with us! Surely it will keep on being helpful and inspiring :-)


Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Hey Rachel! What a HUGE amount of nice concepts and insights. Thaaanks for that :)

The Candy Crunch reference is neat. Will definitely add a share your missions accomplishments right now.

Concerning the 'applause' methodology, again: yes! I was thinking , to the STARS rating system of the platform, adding the possibility of giving HEARTS to users whose advances you like or admire. That would lead to profiles with concrete amount of STARS & HEARTS as a final 'rating' number. Sounds cool to you? Let me know!

Oh, and certainly the multiple paths possibility for different happy endings would be great. Will work on that, too.

Cheers & thanks for your help!
Nice you stepped by :-)

Photo of Rachel Happen

Hi Igansi! Of course, my pleasure! :)

Ah yeah I love the hearts & stars idea! I'll let you know if I think of any other possible directions for the multiple happy endings idea and look forward to seeing what you come up with. It's certainly not easy, but I think you're on the right track! :)

Good luck!

Photo of Tracy Brandenburg

Rachel, THANK YOU! All of your ideas are amazing! Like Igansi, I too really like the idea of matching people with shared experiences. The idea of finding distant relatives, no matter how distant, or finding people from a former neighborhood really opens up the possibilities for a happy ending. I also like how this could really address the issue of isolation that so many AARP Foundation seniors face. I can imagine that if we find other immigrants from Italy, for example, and introduced them, that a new community of friends could be created. And no doubt they will be able to find something in common: food, language, culture. Very cool! It makes me want to recreate my whole neighborhood from my childhood because I'm curious about every single person, even the people who moved away while I was there, the little boy I used to babysit for, etc. Great work! Welcome, Rachel!

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Thank you both! :-)

Ok, I've just updated the project re-ordering the infos and adding all these nice insights you brought in.

Hope it is all clear enough...

Cheers & thanks again!

Photo of Tracy Brandenburg

Great job!!!

Photo of Rachel Happen

Nice job Ignasi! You did a great job tying all our ideas together in the update! (And thank you for adding me to the team! :)

Photo of Sarah Owusu

Just seeing this now, only a few hours to go. But wanted to say I think it is a great idea. I travel a lot and can't count the number of times I have randomly bumped into people in restaurants, planes, offices, parties that either know my mother or one of her network, or how often friends of friends are discovered.

Anyway, all that is just to say that I think these "missions" are more than possible and will continuously reaffirm how connected we all are, globally. Great potential stories.

Finally, for inspiration, here is a story from Ze Frank, who found Ray through his online community:

Photo of Donji YD

When I started reading this idea, I immediately thought of the pixar movie UP haha. Russel (the chubby little asian character) helped Carl (the older grumpy guy) find an old friend. By old friend, I mean his younger self who was once full of adventure and dreams before he became a grumpy old man.

This idea gets definite points for nostalgia.

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Can't agree more! And what a lovely reference -and lovely way of seeing it you have!

Should Find My Friend one day become true, I am certain that telling the stories the platform itself generates could be absolutely amazing.

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig

Hi again team!

Well, last hours before final evaluation... I've dedicated some time to take a bit further the user experience road-map and clarify some final things -a few ones. If you have any comment, or there's something you wanna improve, we have 23 hours left, he he he :-)

Cheers & thanks again for your help!


Photo of Meena Kadri

Great PDF update, Ignasi!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on your idea making it to the Top 20 shortlist, Ignasi! We’re really excited about the gamification and pursuit of challenge behind your idea. Lots of exciting potential here! As a next challenge, we’d love to see you prototype this idea and gather additional insights. For example, how might you define what different types of “success” will look like? The storytelling aspect behind this idea is also a compelling piece. How might you imagine bringing the concept of narrative into the user experience? We’d bet that both young people and older adults would be very excited to share their experience with their communities or with the world. Social media might play an interesting role here. We’d recommend building a team that can help you brainstorm lightweight prototypes as you move towards refinement. We’re so excited to see your idea take flight! For more tips for this Refinement phase, check out and catch our Lowdown on Refinement at

Photo of Meena Kadri

Something we'd encourage you to think about is how you might update your one sentence description to encapsulate what your idea actually entails. Imagine you are filling out a grant or funding application form – how would describe your idea in one sentence with clarity?

Here's a template if you need some help, though feel free to come up with your own clarifying sentence structure.

Our idea is a_________________ [campaign/app/service/program/online platform/toolkit/social enterprise/etc.] that tackles the problem of _____________[the issue being addressed ] by __________[what your idea looks like in practice].