My 5 Takeaways From Monki Gras 2017

I’m a tech newbie, as I’ve just started the exciting journey of learning, HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I’m at the stage where I stare quizzically at the screen and pull my lightly greying locs! Why? Because I’m trying to find the problem with my code. However, I’ve been reassured by everyone I meet that this is normal and it does get easier. Phew! Glad to here this, as I’m nursing a product idea that I plan to build that can add value to others.

Irrespective of industry and whether you sell a product, service, idea, experience or time, your clients should gain a worthwhile benefit. And the magnet that will pull them towards your offer is how it’s packaged.

This year’s Monki Gras Conference was all about packaging. The central theme was:

Packaging: Convenience is the killer app for great developer and user experiences

Fortunately, thanks to The Eclipse Foundation, I received a Diversity Scholarship, to attend. So on the cusp of the New Moon in Aquarius and the Chinese New Year of the Rooster; I set off to find out more. I mention the astrological references because these lunar movements reflect ideas around innovation and improving collective experiences through service. Technology is a prime example of how to facilitate this. Here’s what I discovered:

Power to the Consumer

As consumers we are increasingly demanding more accessible products and services that solve our problems. Time or a lack of it, is a pressing issue in our everyday lives. As a result of this, developers and designers must understand and pay closer attention to their business model. This strategic document lays the comprehensive foundation of the consumer journey.

Therefore, having a firm handle on the meaning of the value proposition and the needs of all types of customers is imperative. Because creating elegant code and product design must always be in service of consumer satisfaction.


From the beginning of time, we’ve used stories as a way to understand ourselves, cultures and societies. Storytelling is an ideal way to explore the technological landscape to provide meaningful consumer engagement around a product or service. Any feedback you receive can only help you to improve your creation so consumers find it easy to use. Also, the continued interaction will raise brand awareness and can lead to having a tribe of raving fans.

Stories can be told from various points of view. However, telling an aspirational one where your customer is the hero can be beneficial. One reason for this is the ability to link directly to their needs, goals or fears. Knowing what they are, enables you to design something that is solution orientated. Consequently, customers will feel as though they’ve finally overcome their problem. This will be even more rewarding, if you’ve worked hard to remove any friction during the whole process.


Micro content platforms are effective mechanisms that improve experiences for both creator and consumer. They are democratic landscapes because everyone has easy access as there is no cost of entry. Therefore, creating benefits for everyone.

For example, last October, Marcin Wichary used Twitter to package his story,

“So, something magical happened to me and I want to tell you about it.”

His content gained a large readership. He created a seamless experience through the continuous use of Twitter’s 140 character limitation. So instead of posting a link to an external site, he shared his longer form narrative in multiple tweets. This in turn acted as a hook to his content and created anticipation in the reader. The bite-size delivery of information appealed to them. And convenience was embedded within it, as the distribution of the story was self-contained inside Twitter.

Beyond Twitter, creators are also using Instagram and Snapchat to extend their reach into new audiences. The Economist are positioning themselves as the ‘go to’ international news magazine for millennials. They do this by creating visually appealing content that speaks to this audience. The return on investment may happen in years to come as opposed to immediately. However, the data they will collect along the way can only deepen their level of engagement with millennials.

Developer Framework

Whether you’re building open source, commercial or cloud software, there are common features to bear in mind. The five key areas are; documentation, diagnostics, default, delivery and delightful.

In terms of documentation it must clearly and comprehensively describe what you have developed. You can combine written and visual explanations or other formats, for instance, blogs, books, demonstrations, conferences and playbooks. Whichever method you use, think about how accessible and convenient it is.

Diagnostics relates to ways in which you provide information so the consumer can have a deeper level of engagement. So if your revenue streams include a subscription model, a part of your service maybe free. If customers want access to more information and solutions, then they would pay for it.

Ideally, your product should work when a customer first uses it. If there’s a problem, then your default troubleshooting information should guide them through a logical process to resolve the problem. This is relatively straightforward if you have a product.

However, if you create a service using open source software, give some thought as to who rectifies the problem. In this situation, the responsibility tends to fall on the consumer. A reason for this is because of free usage. Therefore, as a developer you should include tracking open source software flaws, a natural part of the process.

By doing so, you will be delighting consumers because you’ve efficiently and comprehensively delivered your service. Thereby creating convenience because at the end of the day whatever we use it should be effortless and uncomplicated.

Event Planning

Monki Gras is hosted by Red Monk and they packaged the event to great effect. I had a delightful user experience from beginning to end. The application process for the diversity scholarship was very straightforward. This clearly indicated the desire to embrace diversity in all guises. There wasn’t the usual long, convoluted form with irrelevant questions.

In addition there was a clearly stated Code of Conduct called, “Be excellent with each other.” The environment was relaxed, very welcoming and reflected the Code. Newcomers were allocated a mentor to cater for any queries that may arise. Providing this was another example of personalising the experience.The event was filled with an international crowd, some had travelled from North America, Europe and Malaysia. I enjoyed many engaging conversations with new friends.

As a vegan, I was well catered for in terms of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thanks so much for all the lovely food provided by Street Kitchen. The cooked spinach and seasoned tomato puree that I had for breakfast was divine.

And for the first time in years, I drank delicious coffee at a conference. Invariably, cow’s milk is the only option. However, Old Spike Roastery catered for different palates by including oat milk. I can repeat the experience because our gift bag contains a large sachet of Old Spike Rwandan Coffee. I look forward to savouring this take away!

If you’re looking to attend a high quality, expert peer led tech conference, then I highly recommend Monki Gras 2018. See you next year!




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Bybreen Samuels

I write about Ageing, Astrology, A.I and Web 3.0, to help improve your emotional wellbeing & raise awareness of how tech is transforming our lives.