The Ellen MacArthur Foundation held their first ever #Hack_DIF global hackathon challenge in March and our team beat fourteen others from three continents as overall winners

For some time now, we’ve been evolving an idea for a service to help grow local circular economies so we were well acquainted with this field. So we were excited to secure a place on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Hack_DIF hackathon in early March 2016.

As Folk Labs, we formed two thirds of a three-man team with the perfect configuration: one developer “Hacker”, one Designer and one “Hustler” – Aleyn Smith-Gillespie from the Carbon Trust.

What happened?

Over an intense 48 hours we started from nothing to develop Mobius, our concept for an appliances-as-a-service model that would support various businesses or individuals renting suites of smart appliances. All appliances would be on long-term lease and managed by Mobius or accredited 3rd parties. The user(s) of the equipment would have an account where data about their usage and performance could be monitored, similarly those responsible for the provision, such as landlords or social housing managers, could monitor their condition remotely and receive messages if an item needed attention.

There were some excellent mentors from the Foundation as well as their partners Philips and Cisco, as well as a range of software and hardware to explore. With the nature of our idea we gravitated to prototyping with Cisco’s Internet of Things platform and created a demonstration website that could store and record appliance changes. Chris created some excellent visuals for this while Aleyn researched and developed the core elements of a business model.

Here’s the video of our concept from the pitch:


There were several other strong ideas presented, so we were surprised and pleased to be the winning team at the Cranfield site! The other participating sites were Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Institute of Design, India.

After getting through to the final round of judging, Aleyn made some impressive further improvements to our business case and value exchange model which played a decisive role in securing the global prize!