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Aug 15th, 2020

originally written for my urspace blog on 7.27.20 It’s been about 7 (whoa!) weeks since I started being an Engineering Fellow with Urspace Labs. Urspace Labs has been an incredible experience so far! I have gotten to meet people from all different parts of this country with varying levels of expertise in different parts of the product development process.

I’m so thankful for Emily Chung, our mentor, for guiding us through this entire process and working with each one of us closely. She has such a wealth of knowledge about product development and even engineering!

Introducing the Social Justice Unicorns:

Emi (PM)

Nina (Designer)

Eva (Engineer)

Drshika (me! — Engineer)

When I first joined this program, I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to build. As our group began discussing, we inadvertently started leaning towards ideas that helped our community. During this global pandemic, it is even more necessary for us to team up and help those who need it most, especially garment workers and our environment. That’s where the idea for Mindfully came in. We wanted to make a tool that allowed people to shop based on their value system. If you want to support sustainable clothing brands, buy cruelty free or vote for your political party with dollars — our chrome extension can help you!

Our talented designer, Nina, was able to turn our ideas and aesthetic into a brand. We even decided what kind of music our extension would listen to if it were a person (prom dress [mxtoon], I can’t breathe [HER], Need Nothing [VERITE], Dead Weight [PVIRS], Summer Depression [girl in red])! This led to creating a moodboard in milanote and mockups in figma. Moodboarding and creating an asthetic for our brand was quite a new experience for me, however, it was ultimately helpful for Eva and I for the UI/UX design and code.

Our first step was to figure out where to get the data from. We decided to use web scraping to collect data from various websites to develop a company profile that would outline what the company is doing well/or not. We would then create a formula that would assign a star rating to the companies based on what they are (or are not doing.

The next step for us engineers was to figure out our backend and database schema. We originally were thinking of using mySQL. We decided to switch to a noSQL backend like firebase because it was quicker and it was better for organizing data with fewer interconnections.

I think the biggest development challenge for us will be managing the API endpoints into our backend. We want our application to be scalable to add more companies as well as user accounts. Having room to accommodate these growing pains will be a challenge for us. Another thing we need to figure out is how we are going to rate companies (and what formulas we will use for that). We need to make sure our rating system is unbiased and reliable for each one of our use cases. I’m so proud of my team members for really persevering through this entire process. Emi — for keeping us on track and coming up with cool marketing/design ideas, Eva — for being my engineer big sis, and finally Nina for making very drool worthy designs for our extensions!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!

Drshika ツ

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