My name is Miriam Dorsett. I’m the Founder of Chibur, and Quokka is one of our first products. It is an iteration of Project IB, which I started in late 2018 after a series of events.
This Substack will be dedicated to the building of Quoka “in public.”
Thank you for following along! Feel free to reach out with any questions.
In this first post, I’ll attempt to bring you up to speed with everything that has happened on the journey so far. Starting with:
November 19th, 2017
I hosted an event called Constructive Space with my colleague and friend Courtney Val. It was a free event open to anyone in the community who wanted to learn the 5 steps for helping someone who might be struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. The workshop was presented in collaboration with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's #BeThe1To campaign, which strives to educate communities on how they can support each other to save a life.
Courtney Val who is certified in Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Prevention through the ASIST program, led the event. We emphasized self-care, including a Self Care station with aromatherapy, organic tea blends, self-care planning materials, and more! Food was provided by Mealsbypeggy, and we did a special massage raffle thanks to Massage Envy!
October 19th, 2018
I was having a normal day. The only thing that was different was that, for some reason, my DND (do not disturb) was set to “off.” This is highly abnormal. A call came through. It was an unknown number.
Very unusual of me, I answered my phone. To this day, I can’t explain why I did that, but what happened during that call would change me forever.
On the line was a former colleague. It was clear they were not in a good place. I snapped into my training from the Constructive Space Suicide Prevention event. I ended up inviting them down to Miami. They didn’t end up showing up, but the whole experience got me thinking about “random” life experiences.
I have had many experiences with synchronicity. I believe that not everything is random. That if you think of a person “randomly,” you should call or text them!
I’ll give you an example, one day, my friend Steve popped into my head. Steve is a little older, and I didn’t want to disturb him because it was late at night, so I decided not to call. A few moments later, I was scrolling on social media and saw my friend Karen was online. I pinged her, and a few minutes later, we were talking on the phone. Guess where she was? At Steve’s house!
It was these seemingly random occurrences, like what happened with Steve and my work colleague, that got me thinking that maybe they’re not random. Maybe they are “meant to be.” Although that might seem unusual, who cares!? Why not think they are meant to be?
I like thinking like this! It makes life more meaningful.
Life Should Be Meaningful
During my Cluttered Clarity phase as an artist, I also spent a lot of time thinking about how technology is designed. My Cluttered Clarity series explores how technology affects our memory as people. Some of my conclusions were:
that technology typically is not built to support our humanity
that legislation has not caught up with technology
that technology should be designed to support the human experience and our mental health
Quokka is built with those conclusions in mind. On November 12th, 2018, I launched Project IB, which would eventually become Quokka.
November 12th, 2018
Here are some screenshots from that original announcement. The first landing page is long gone, but haha, it took me a while to build it, and I was proud of it. I got a total of 2 signups from that, and over the next month, I went out and tabled, talked about the project with people, and got more signups. Special shout out to Courtney for joining me. We actually got kicked off of the UM campus at one point while signing people up. 😛
Wow, looking back at this post, I went a little wild with the hashtags.
Note to self, do not do that.
The tech build behind it was VERY MVP. Basically, as people signed up, I would add them to a broadcast list on WhatsApp. I had to do some heavy lifting with sending text messages and emails to make sure they downloaded WhatsApp and added me as a contact to their phone so that they would get my messages.
Once they were set up, it was a little easier. They would send messages to me, I would remove them from the broadcast list and send their message out to the group. Then add them back to the list. This was to prevent them from getting their own messages.
I quickly realized how unscalable this whole experience was, especially given my bandwidth. I ended up redesigning the webpage to make it clear that you had to have WhatsApp installed, and completely eliminated the email steps, collecting only their phone number to get started.
Check out the screenshots from the old landing page. 😛
May 24th, 2019
I shared the new landing page on Facebook!
Special shout-out to everyone that commented and gave feedback. I posted the logo in other places as well and everyone was supportive. Thank you! If you have time you can read through the comments here. Sebastien and I dug right in. I brought him up to speed with everything that I had tried so far and we reviewed Bubble and Webflow. We decided to go with Bubble and started designing the landing page. Sara joined the team shortly after as the Marketing Manager, followed by Ariana, Nathaniel, and Sabryna. I am so grateful for each and every one of them. They believe in the power of Quokka and we’re really excited to take you on this journey to launch with us. Chime in with your comments, we would love to hear from you!