School of Art, Media, and Technology

CD Junior Brinna Thomsen’s Team Wins MIT Hackathon

Written by:

share

Last month, Communication Design junior Brinna Thomsen participated with a team of Cornell and Cornell Tech students in MIT’s FinTech Hackathon. The group took home the grand prize of $5,000 for their project, Switch: Fifty-five million American freelancers cite income volatility and the cost of self-insurance as their biggest barriers to doing more work. Switch is an intelligent digital broker that recommends personalized liability insurance based on a worker’s gig profile. On-demand coverage lets users save money by insuring themselves only while they are on the job. With quick onboarding, simple terms and effortless claims, freelancers can spend less time covering losses and more time earning money.

 

Read more about the hackathon here.

What attracted you to the Cornell pilot in the first place?

I was originally attracted to the Cornell Tech pilot because of the opportunity to tackle the real-world problems with the company challenges. During the Product Studio course in the fall, various companies across many different industries issue open ended “How might we” questions that multi-disciplinary teams of students get to answer. 
 
 
How has your experience been working with the interdisciplinary teams at Cornell?
I have loved it. I’ve enjoyed seeing different perspectives and talents come together to form a products and companies.
 
 
What is your (current) team working on and why?
My team members are passionate about FinTech. In order to build a company, we had to find a pressing need to address. We realized that fifty-five million American freelancers deal with income volatility and that the cost of self-insurance makes matters worse. That’s why we developed Switch.
 
Switch is an intelligent digital broker that recommends personalized liability insurance based on a worker’s gig profile. On-demand coverage lets users save money by insuring themselves only while they are on the job. With quick on-boarding, simple terms and effortless claims, freelancers can spend less time covering losses and more time earning money. 
 
 
What is your role on the team? How are you helping?
I am an all-purpose designer on the team, ensuring that our product appeals to human needs and emotions.  I design the features, user experience and the interface of the product as well as the brand. 
 
 
Why did your team decide to participate in the hackathon?
We were excited to have an opportunity to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.  Exploring MIT and Boston and meeting leaders in the FinTech space were also motivating factors. 
 
 
How did participating in the hackathon move your team project forward?
We built a functional prototype overnight, got validation from investment and business leaders (which felt great) and build valuable connections.  
 
Why do you think your team won?
I think we won because on-demand insurance has the potential to be disruptive. People are excited about disruptive ideas.
 
 
What are you planning on using the prize for?
We paid off our Boston trip expenses. For now, we are holding the rest in case we decide to go to conferences or have team expenses. We will distribute what’s left at the end of the semester.  

All Rights Reserved © 2017. Parsons School of Design.