Jonathan Ota


Solving the challenges of cancer care through the power of design thinking and the energy and rapid iteration of a 48 hour hackathon.

Half research and discovery, half event production.

CHILL, Cisco Hyper Innovation Learning Lab, is a group within Cisco that tackles large industry problems with a cross-section of large industry players. CHILL partnered with Gravitytank to uncover pains and discover opportunity areas within cancer care and translate those findings into a 48 hour hackathon. Unique to CHILL’s process is their emphasis on rapid prototyping and testing: teams were expected to prototype and test their ideas during multiple feedback cycles with end users. At the end of the event, the most successful ideas are turned into new start-ups to take the idea to market.

Our Goal

Uncover opportunities within oncology care and translate them into a 48 hour hackathon.

With CHILL, we sought to use the expertise of multiple complementary companies and the power of technology to find solutions that improve patient, caregiver and provider experiences in cancer care.


Gathering primary inspiration, not just relying on intuition.

Key to the success of the event leaned on the meaningfulness of the problems we were trying to solve. In order to avoid the risk of topical solutions for ill-informed problems, we spent two months conducting in-depth secondary and primary research, speaking with cancer patients and their caregivers to fully understand the struggles they face everyday.

Annette and I sat in the clinic for 25 minutes waiting for chemo. The doctor was running back and forth and didn’t take time to answer our questions. The chemo sessions lasted all day long and seemed like a cattle call. We found out later it’s only a 2-hour process. It was stressful and nobody explained the issues.

Opportunity Areas

The opportunities for patients face are numerous.

We summarized our learnings in six opportunities mapped to the patient journey.


Translating our research insights into digital, physical, and experiential touchpoints.

Unlike other hackathons which emphasize immediate solution generating, we broke the event into two halves: research immersion and ideation and prototyping.


Building a new business from patient focused prototyping.

All our work culminated into 48 hours of intense immersion, collaboration, rapid prototyping, and pitching.

Event Process

Design Process on Steroids

Each day was structured similarly: every team would conduct rapid rounds of ideation and prototyping with multiple quick rounds of feedback from patients and providers.

Event Process


Gravitytank facilitators guided teams through their opportunity area, immersing them in patient challenges and steering ideation.

Event Process


With every idea, the Build Team, a collection of Cisco engineers and Gravitytank designers, transformed them into prototypes to test with patients.

Event Process


Crucial to the success of the event lay in the groups of cancer patients, caregivers and healthcare providers providing feedback to each team.

Final Pitch

My team’s idea was well received and has since then been turned into an actual product.