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MOVING PICTURE: Ship It Society Makes Ideas Happen

Rochelle Beard had never worked on a website before, but she did have an idea for one.

At an all day event at co-working space Independents Hall, Beard pitched her idea about how to improve student care packages over the web to a roomful of people who had the ability to make her vision a reality. She received feedback on how to refine and focus her idea so it might become more feasible. Then she set out to work on a product pitched by Georgia Guthrie, around the concept of helping people select what to wear.

By the end of the day, Beard had played a vital role in conceiving of and working with developers to create a prototype for the application, named DRESS S.O.S. By sliding pictures of shirts and pants underneath a photo of the user's head, a fashion newbie could get much-needed help on the choice of an outfit.

Guthrie, a recent University of the Arts graduate from the Masters in Industrial Design program, helped plan the event with hacker and Hive 76 co-founder Far McKon. Guthrie's vision for the event included motivating busy people to finish projects and to have a place where people who have ideas for applications can find people to help get it done.

In true agile fashion, the Ship It Society's model has gone through many iterations in its short lifespan.

When the co-founders of Ship It Society explained Ship It Society last October at Ignite Philly, the model did not include a hackathon and projects were expected to be completed in 10 days instead of 2-3 months. Attendees to the initial events were predominantly developers and designers well-versed in creating applications for the iPhone and iPad, whereas the events now draw a more diverse crowd.

At the end of the most recent event three teams had formed, including DRESS S.O.S. Mobile developer Corey Latislaw started a team to alert city dwellers when they need to move their car from a parking spot using the Police Department's news archive. Marketing specialist Mark Schneider created a team to use A/B testing as a way to test product logos and slogans.

Schneider was particularly fond of the event, saying "I would do this every week if I could. It's a great way to figure out works and find a good team".

As for Beard, she felt the experience was valuable in understanding how developers work and how projects get built. She is going to use the knowledge she's learned in her efforts to encourage students through tailored student care packages.

The next edition of Ship It Society will take place in 6-8 weeks. The date has yet to be announced.

Words by Salas Saraiya; Video by Richard Trevisani
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