From Martial Arts to Product Design

June 9, 2017 Jackie Ho

This week for Pivotal Voices, we’re featuring Jackie Ho, Product Designer at Pivotal New York

Even though I wasn’t actively looking, I applied to Pivotal because the idea of working on different projects sounded really interesting. At the time, I was at a startup doing design on my own as trial by fire, so I really wanted to be part of a design team that could mentor me. Pivotal has not only a robust design team but also projects across different domains, and that’s something I really enjoy.

When I was at Columbia, a couple friends and I founded a club for wushu, which is contemporary Chinese martial arts. The wushu community in the US is not that big, but it’s growing a lot and competitions are a key part. After attending many competitions that ran way over time and watching judges struggle to use outdated software, we really saw a need and an opportunity to apply our skills to a community we really care about.

So we built an app called Kipup.

Kipup is used to run wushu competitions and I’ve been working on this app with two of my friends, both of whom are engineers, for about a year and a half now. The app encompasses a couple things: The setup portion — used by competition organizers — manages events and competitors, includes grouping and ordering, and can handle changes on the fly. Then there’s the actual judging part, which is the most complex, and a scoreboard that can be viewed by spectators. Wushu is scored similarly to gymnastics and we’re the most accurate, official English-language application that adheres to wushu competition rules.

I used to work in venture capital, and I always like to say that the best ideas and apps come from people who have been in unique spaces and experienced the pains. For us, wushu is that unique space and we’re the best equipped people to solve the problems in this space.

After attending many competitions that ran way over time and watching judges struggle to use outdated software, we really saw a need and an opportunity to apply our skills to a community we really care about.

I started at Pivotal after I started Kipup, and it’s been really cool to take the things that I’ve learned at Pivotal and apply them to the app. For me, this app has been the ideal side project.

Change is the only constant, so individuals, institutions, and businesses must be Built to Adapt. At Pivotal, we believe change should be expected, embraced, and incorporated continuously through development and innovation, because good software is never finished.


From Martial Arts to Product Design was originally published in Built to Adapt on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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