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When your work becomes your hobby

Sirik Loosman discusses developing the "Habitpot" app
Jan 12, 2021.

Sirik Loosman is 28 years old. He started his apprenticeship as an app developer at Generali in 2008. After completing his training, he joined the development department and has now been working in the field of Enterprise Architecture for about five years. IT is not just his day job – it’s also a big hobby. Thanks to his broad knowledge and skills, which he acquired at Generali, and his passion for IT, he was able to develop the Habitpot app in his free time. We asked him what the app can do and how it all started.

Sirik, you developed the Habitpot app in your free time. What is Habitpot and what is it for?

In the broadest sense, the app is about developing a greater awareness of our consumption habits and doing good at the same time. Whether we’re making New Year’s resolutions, trying to get fit for the summer or making ethical lifestyle changes – we often set goals for ourselves. But sticking to them isn’t always easy. Eating less meat or sweets, quitting smoking, flying less or stopping swearing – the list is practically endless and, above all, different for everyone. At the same time, we often feel that we now have to pursue this new goal with 100% of our willpower. We hope that we’ll be able to persevere without any moments of weakness. After a few weeks, the first exception creeps in, then the second. By then, the personal goal already starts to become slightly diluted.

 

With Habitpot, you can easily track your “overconsumption” (i.e. how much you have consumed beyond your target) and place it in a “pot”, for example in the form of a small amount of money. Making exceptions isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re aware of it. Over time, the amount in your pot will give you an idea of how well you are managing to stick to your goals. At the moment, the Habitpot app is also linked to a hand-picked selection of charity organisations. If you like, you can donate any amount to them.

 

What is the long-term goal of your app?

Setting long-term goals in a world that is constantly changing isn’t easy. But the general goal behind Habitpot is to help to boost our transformation into a more aware consumer society. But at the moment, I can’t say exactly what that will mean for the app in the end.

 

How did you come up with the idea of developing this app?

The idea came to me last summer when I was shopping with my wife. Almost every meal we cook at home is vegan – not just because of our beliefs but also because of a few food intolerances. On our shopping list, we had all the ingredients for a good, home-made pizza. After a bit of back and forth, we decided to buy mozzarella too. As a little exception, if you like. Then on the way home, we had an idea. We thought it would be good if we could set some money aside for those little ‘moments of weakness’. And then later, we could put that money towards something good. That was it, the idea for Habitpot.

 

Why should someone download your app? Give us a few convincing reasons.

Are you feeling motivated to change some of your habits? Perhaps you want to be more aware of your consumption habits or your impact on the environment? Do you keep thinking about how you could make a difference?

 

Change is rarely easy. But if your answer to any of these questions is “yes”, Habitpot can help you on your way to a more mindful lifestyle.

 

How much time and money have you invested in your app?

Developing new solutions, whatever they are, is always exciting for me. That means I get very passionate about them – and so I usually invest a lot in them: time, money and a lot of energy.

 

The app is deliberately not monetised (no adverts, charges or premium features for user). I didn’t want that. To put it simply: I don’t make any money from the app.

 

The app took me about six months to complete. I used this time effectively, developing the app alongside my work at Generali. I spent three months in 2019 preparing the concept and discussing it with lots of people. Between January and April 2020, I developed the first version of the app and completed the final version with the help of an alpha and beta test group. The final app was released in August. In the end, it took a bit longer than expected because I had to teach myself a new programming language at the same time.

 

Imagine you’re on the TV show “Dragon’s Den”. What would your pitch be like?

I would be so nervous and excited. To give the dragons an idea of the problem, I would present a few interesting facts about our consumption. For example, producing a single kilogram of beef releases around 13.3 kg of CO2 and uses over 15,000 l of water. That’s about as much CO2 as a car emits on a 42-km journey.

 

After that, I would explain how important it is to be (more) aware of our consumption habits, in a funny and charismatic way. Finally, I would present the ideal solution: Habitpot – your little helper by your side. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

 

But then I would probably find out that the “business model” isn’t an interesting investment opportunity for the dragons. I’ve seen almost every episode of that show, so I am pretty certain that this is how it would end. Oh well, it would still be an exciting experience.

 

What is the next step for Habitpot?

Time will tell. Of course, when it comes to the app, I still have a few interesting surprises in store. For example, recording other areas of consumption ... such as time spent flying or watching TV/Netflix. But I won’t give too much away. If I inspire just a handful of people to become more aware of their consumption habits and therefore do something good, my journey with Habitpot was worth it.

 

Are you working on other projects or are you finished for now?

Not at all. In fact, I believe I’m only just getting started. For three years, I’ve been a proud owner of a Tesla and I love talking to people about it. I have rather a wide range of interests, including other issues such as electromobility, sustainable energy and other exciting developments and technology of the future. I am also fascinated by the mindset of Elon Musk. For a little over two years, I’ve been building up the interactive “Tesla Community Schweiz” on Twitter and, at the moment, I am working on early plans for a big event next year. The will is there. We’ll have to see what happens over time. 

 

How do your experiences with the app help you with your daily work at Generali?

“There are no mistakes in life, just experiences.” This quote has guided and inspired me for a long time. But pursuing an idea and making space for it in your life usually takes a bit of courage too. At this point, I’d like to thank Mike Fuhrmann, who guided me throughout this time as a mentor and also helped me decide to go ahead with the experience. Building an app like Habitpot and working on each individual, relevant aspect of it has really enriched me. Of course, this project also came with some negative experiences, but I believe that each one made the end result a little better. This enriching project has made me more versatile, creative and flexible as a person. This then benefits Generali, every single day.