Innovation In Action

Innovation in Action | Design Competition & Workshop

  •  Role: Product Manager + UX Designer

  • Project Type: Social impact entrepreneurship competition

  • Timeline: 5 months


A social impact entrepreneurship competition that emphasized human-centered design to investigate and develop solutions related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. My multidisciplinary team of 3 investigated, ideated, prototyped, and pitched the development of a financial app called Pavement to help people released from incarceration. We pitched our proposal and business plan, placing third in finals and winning $5,000.

Methods Used

  • Affinity Diagramming

  • Card Sorting

  • Data Analysis and Synthesizing

  • Design Thinking

  • Ecosystem Mapping

  • Empathy Maps

  • Ideating

  • Interviewing

  • Prototyping

  • Sketching

  • Surveying


According to the National Institute of Justice, 2.3 million people were incarcerated in the US in 2018 and 77% of people released from prison in the US are rearrested within 5 years. To address this issue, we aimed to investigate the facets of release from incarceration and the reentry process post incarceration in order to identify and address barriers. I worked with graduate students who were pursuing Public Health and Health Informatics degrees over the course of 5 months. As the UX lead, I provided UX design techniques, teaching them and leveraging them through the iterative product development process. I also served as the product manager; setting team goals and organizing workflows throughout the project to produce a minimal viable product.


We initiated our research process with ecosystem mapping to identify stakeholders. From this, we developed interview protocols before interviewing 46 people, of which 33 were people released from incarceration, 10 were community organizers, and 3 were corrections workers. After each interview, we created empathy maps and analyzed results through affinity diagramming to create personas. To further define pain points, we conducted card sorting with interviewees to rank different identified barriers, which led us to focus on finance as the foremost challenge facing this demographic.

To design our solution, we conducted multiple sketching sessions. These were presented and analyzed by peers and professional advisors during feedback sessions held by Innovation in Action at the campus entrepreneurship incubator, TechArb

Ecosystem Map

Empathy Map

Competitive Analysis

Competitive Analysis

Platform development

To develop a platform for assisting returning citizens with finances, we focused on the initial buildout of an integrated website and app called Pavement. After brainstorming a robust features list, we then defined a minimal viable product to potentially pilot. It featured person-to-person consulting via text/phone, budget creation, bill tracking, job information (resume building and avoiding online scams), and credit information (how to build credit and smart borrowing practices). Each feature was designed to assist our demographic throughout the stages of their reentry to society.

Pitch competition

We built out our pitch by proposing a four-step buildout; a student design challenge, a university beta test, a funding phase, and then a local pilot phase. We also outlined a business canvas model to scale our business. We pitched our plan in three practice sessions and then proposed it to a panel of judges. Out of 16 teams, we were one of five selected to compete in a final, public pitch competition, where we placed 3rd and won $5,000 for our plan.