Magdalena Tula

Magdalena Tula

Aug 3, 2017 - 

3 min read  - 

How internal hackathons can boost your company

To hack or not to hack?

Organizing a hackathon is a big undertaking, especially when you invite external participants. You have to take care of a venue, promotion, registration, jury, technical stuff… in return you get brand awareness among the best developers, who might work for you one day and a spotlight that might help you acquire new clients. Internal hackathons, on the other hand, don’t give that much exposure. Nonetheless internal events have tons of advantages:

  1. Solving problems – During our hackathons we try to focus on creating internal tools that solve company most urgent problems. We don’t forbid anyone from pitching other ideas, however, we encourage people to look around and find solutions to problems they think are important.
  2. Integrations – we don’t implement any strict rules about how teams are divided but often it happens that people work in different teams than in their day-to-day projects. This gives a chance to get to know each other and learn from each other.
  3. New roles – When we lack some competences in teams, it encourages people to try out skills they don’t use every day. So even if you are an iOS dev, you can be Back-end Engineer for 24 hours!
  4. Learn how software is made – it is unprecedented for all other roles in company to experience entire process of creating a product. They can participate and they can be a part of this process. This gives a whole new perspective to everyone from office manager to marketing or hiring specialist.

24 hours of coding

Our second hackathon took place last weekend. We had 26 registered participants and 13 projects were pre-submitted. It doesn’t seem like a lot but it turned out that even a small group of focused and dedicated people that work on interesting projects, have a power to make the event a tremendous success!   

We did a proper pitching with presentations, slides and videos. Then we voted for 5 best ideas and let people choose project they wanted to work on. We didn’t have all necessary competences among us but we were not discouraged! It created an opportunity for everyone to act in a different role. Culture & People team could try their hand at product design, mobile developers could become a web designer and so on.

Some of us acted as a movie director/editor and a hackathon movie was created:

Here is a list of projects we worked on:

  1. Thanksy – The main idea is that we wanted to make appreciation more public. Our app is integrated with Slack, where you can post a thank you note using a command. All users can join this note and like a message using one of two buttons.There is also a cheerful notification on Apple TV and another view with leaderboards and stats.
  2. Psinder – It’s a Tinder for dogs! Actually it’s meant to be used by people who would like to adopt a dog. You can swipe through a database of many different animals and check all background information. Users have their account where they store information about themselves so they can see animals that fit their profile info (i.e. if they have small children, garden etc.)
  3. AFKme – As in many IT companies, we have flexible working time and we use Slack to inform teammates when we are away. It often happens that we forget to put this info on Slack. AFKMe is a perfect solution! The app uses Geofencing to detect when you leave the office and it sends you notifications. You can set up remote or afk status from the app.  
  4. VR Last dance aka VR Human Tetris – We have a cool VR equipment so there had to be a VR project to play with it! Our team wanted to create a game based on Despicable 2 secret lair entrance, where you step on square shaped fields in VR to play a melody. However the team changed a project once it turned out they managed to track not only feet, but the entire body. The final result was a VR Human Tetris!
  5. Tooploox Travel – We travel a lot at Tooploox. We visit our clients, attend conferences, visit other offices. Company is still growing so it is challenging for Office Managers to keep track and manage all hotels, tickets and all changes people make. One team decided to ease OM’s pain and create a web based tool that will allow to manage all travels from one convenient panel.

We have chosen a winner in voting, however this wasn’t the most important thing in the event. People value the chance to learn new skills, create a product that addresses problems from our close surrounding. We also did some organizational improvements. This time we did registration and real pitching. This way everyone felt motivated and committed to deliver an awesome product!

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