Rice Business Plan Competition Judging Platform
The Rice Business Plan Competition ( RBPC ) is an internationally recognized initiative to support entrepreneurship. It is a 3-day event where MBA students pitch their startups and business strategy to industry leaders for a chance to win prize money and additional mentorship.
The competition platform debuted in 2019. The following year, 2020, the competition went virtual due to the impacts of COVID-19. The software enabled Rice Alliance to expand the competition and support more teams.
RBPC administrators facilitated the competition through a series of paper ballots, spreadsheets, and too many emails. Running the competition was unnecessarily difficult. Our project goal to create a web-based tool to help operationally streamline the completion, we collaborated directly with the competition organizer.
We determined success and prepared for the inaugural competition by
- Conducting usability tests via InVision prototypes
- Conducting performance test runs before the competition
- The software successfully works during the competition without technical difficulties
Our primary stakeholder provided us with several documents to prepare for the project kickoff including a multi-page document that captured their competition management processes and user insights. the product manager had already outlined software features for the administrators, judges, and participants.
During the kickoff meeting with our client, the product manager and I asked a series of clarifying questions about the competition processes. Following the meeting I immediately captured the anticipated user flows for each access point.
We had less than 6 weeks to gain approval app experience and MPV design. We held daily syncs toward the end of the business day. I would wander over to the product manager and solutions architect desk throughout the day when I was stuck on a particular feature.
The solutions architect and I worked closely to create simple, straightforward software for all users. The first iteration of the platform launched in less than 5 months.
The team recommended a linear user flow for each portal user so we, both design and development teams, could keep the schedule
Because a rapid pace was required for this project, I was able to successfully introduced interactive prototyping into the Poetic process. We utilized InVision so our stakeholders could easily present our work to their team at Rice. The team quickly adopted inVision into our processes (until we switched to Figma). I created a mix of desktop and mobile prototypes, we would rely on a Webflow prototype to finalize the initial design.
As the lead designer, I was responsible for handing off responsive HTML/CSS to the engineering team. The initial software UI is very minimal featuring grays and the Rice blue. From kick-off to handoff, I completed the design in less than 2 months. During production and testing, I communicated design recommendations for any edge-cases or new features over Slack.
The competition platform debuted successfully in 2019. The development team collected feedback during the competition to improve the overall usability of the platform for the next competition. The following year, 2020, the competition went virtual due to the impacts of COVID-19. The software enabled Rice Alliance to expand the competition and support more teams.
Before the 2021 competition, we were asked to introduce a handful of new product features including announcement capabilities and additional feedback cycles for judges. The new updates required a UI facelift to better display the new features and enhance the overall usability of the software for judges and teams. Though approved, the new design did not make it into production in time for the 2021 competition.