I'm a data scientist working at the intersection of technology and design. Reformed astrophysicist & former e-Research/data consultant.
Free to Feed

Melbourne Winter Hackathon | June 2017

Free to Feed is a Melbourne–based social enterprise run by Loretta and Daniel Bolotin, that recognises the entrepreneurial characteristics and existing skills of refugees and new migrants, as well as the significant challenges that they face in gaining meaningful employment, or pursuing new enterprises in Australia. The heart of Free to Feed is its pop-up cooking school, where all classes are run by highly skilled refugees and asylum seekers.



  • Extensive UX Research & Design (user journeys & affinity mapping).

  • Optimised Free to Feed’s existing Checkfront booking system / Improved Gift Certificate purchasing & redemption.

  • Improved the UX/UI of Free to Feed’s existing Wordpress website.

  • Improved functionality and processes around communications / Embedded customised Typeforms for each stakeholder.

  • Review of website Information Architecture / Greater focus placed on Free to Feed’s core activities.

  • Complete set of wireframes for a new website.

  • A prototype Wordpress website with a fresh, clean, modern look.

  • Manual processes replaced to minimise the administrative burden and to enable Free to Feed to scale more efficiently.


Background & Context

My first experience with Free to Feed was in early February 2017 when my mum and I took Hamed's Persian Vegetarian cooking class. I thought this would be the perfect Christmas present for someone who has it all, and it was. While it was immediately obvious that Free to were experts in this sector and onto a really good thing, I couldn’t help but notice some issues around business processes and the technology they were using. Their booking system was clunky; choosing a class based on location, date, chef or cuisine was difficult, and in our case it required a few emails back and forth, and some manual intervention to successfully input my gift certificate. Booking by location wasn’t an option and since my mum lives an hour away from the city this something we had to consider. Since classes are held all over Melbourne it seemed like a really obvious and potentially simple thing to have.

I knew then that Free to Feed could really benefit from the Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) treatment. Talking with co-Founder Daniel Bolotin, it quickly became apparent that their booking system and website were only a  small part of the problem. One of the biggest roadblocks to growing the business was their inability to scale, and scale quickly. They had received quite a lot of press coverage, after all Melbourne is a foodie city, and there was no shortage of customers. Communications were also an issue. Many of their processes are manual and require one-on-interactions with a diverse range of stakeholders and clients.

In May 2017 Free to Feed began working closely with RHoK.

My role — alongside fellow RHoK organiser Tim Elliot – a strategic designer with a background in industrial design, was to guide super-duo Loretta and Daniel Bolotin, through the RHoK lifecycle and to prepare them for each stage of the RHoK journey. Unlike most hackathons, RHoK engages with change makers roughly 6-weeks prior to the hack weekend, and where possible supports ongoing development until change makers have a fully tested and deployed tech solution.

We began by guiding Free to Feed through the Agile software development and Cynefin Framework decision making processes, and helped her develop a set of problem statements, that would we would be narrowed down into a pre-hack pitch. We also introduced Free to Feed to user–centred design and facilitated a contextual inquiry (CI) session with user experience (UX) experts, facilitated team development on hack weekend, ensured they were resourced to deliver a solid tech solution, and facilitated further development (at RHoK we call this a RHoLL) roughly six weeks after the hack weekend.

The Problem
& The Pitch

BUSINESS CHALLENGE:  Free to feed has in inefficient booking system (in addition to a more general problem around communicating information) that is sucking or drawing energy from Loretta and Daniel, and distracting from their core mission and activities. — “Existing business systems are in efficient and ineffective for the current and future business”

WHO IT AFFECTS: This affects everyone; the customers (individuals wishing to join or host a class), Loretta and Daniel, the chefs, volunteer hosts, potential clients (corporates, schools, and cafe owners). — “Staff, clients, customers, suppliers”

THE IMPACT:  Not meeting customers expectations (ease of booking), makes it difficult to scale up, missing out of opportunities -- e.g. new cafe/venues to get involved. Ultimately limits each chef’s ability to earn a full time wage. More classes == more secure employment.
— “Free to Feed is unable to meet current needs, let alone meet growth potential”

The Solution

Project Team

Project Pitch | Loretta & Daniel Bolotin (Free to Feed), assisted by Arna Karick, (RHoK) & Tim Elliot (RHoK)

Project Management | Sally Pryor, Loretta Bolotin

Journey Mapping | Arna Karick, Sally Pryor, Loretta Bolotin, Pratik Dhody, Lin Min-Jung, Peter Barry

UX Research | Dee (Dinda) Pradi, Loretta Bolotin, Arish Joe

Visual Design & Wireframes | Dee (Dinda) Pradi, Lin Min-Jung

Website Content | Arna Karick, Ben Dalley

Wordpress Development | Pratik Dhody, Ahmed Dedeche, Dan Laush

Checkfront Setup + Design Tweaks | Sally Pryor, Arna Karick

Checkfront/Wordpress Integration | Janidu Wanigasuriya, Robert Li

Typeform Setup & Integration | Arna Karick

RHoK Tech Mentor + Buddy | Arna Karick, Tim Elliot

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