Usually the weekend is the right time for restart. Restart of your body, brain, sorting out your minds.. Time for meeting family, friends… or for learning – that never-ending process. The last weekend was special to Hotovo. It was still about meeting friends. Yes, that status from being colleagues has been upgraded. 🙂
Conventions are quite boring so we decided to do it differently this time. Our choice was internal hackathon. We consider it as interesting way how to scale employee learning across the company.
Eleven Hotovo friends attended and their focus was on three selected projects:
Project 1. Ethereum ERC721 token for in game items
To many people projects like crypto kitties represent silly idea motivated by last cryptocurrency bubble. And they are partially right, but it represents an important idea – using of unique scarce digital items.
Our team with deep cryptocurrencies experience was experimenting with digital items. The team created a prototype of a game which generates unique items and stores them on Ethereum blockchain. This enables a game player to have full control over the items earned in a game and transfer them into a different one thanks to applied cryptography. You can read more about scarce digital items at – Games and Blockchain – What is about to change in the gaming industry.
Project 2. Blockstack Diary
Project 3. Slack Bots
Slack can be time waster if not used properly. So the third team focused on how to turn Slack Bots into an advantage and use them for our workflow setup. We connected one Slack bot to our Jira so that Hotovo back-office can check who haven’t logged his/her work time for the current month. Because we all “love” logging. 😉 Time consuming but important work to bill our customers properly.
The second Slack bot integrated RescueTime API. User can tell the bot to set time limit for application or website by using Slack commands. If user spends more time than the limit, Slack bot will send direct message to the user. This can help with better awareness about the time spent on electronic devices.
How to improve your Hackathon?
We have selected several points that we think are important for successful hackathon and may help you as well.
1. Prepare your ideas upfront
Make a project list for hackathon upfront and help people with their ideas. Don’t bother your head with ideas which are too complicated for hackathon, miss learning potential or which are not funny. Help people understand what work needs to be done on their project before hackathon so they don’t waste precious time changing their idea during the hackathon. Make sure that people can start to work from get go.
2. Make sure everyone is on the right project
Help people find project where they can help the most . A lot of time is wasted hackathons by people having nothing to do on project they picked. We knew what skills each hackathon idea needs and what the idea is about before hackathon so people could pick their project better.
3. Present ideas to whole company
Not everyone could or wanted to spend the weekend hacking away. But on the other hand they may be willing to learn from it. Prepare short presentation about projects done and what you have learned from it to the rest of the company.
4. Make it healthy
Hackathon is about learning and fun, not about risking your health. If someone wants to drink energy drinks all day, that’s fine. But provide also healthy options like fruits or healthy snacks for the others. Public hackathons tend to praise people for pull off whole nighter. If you prepare your ideas properly upfront, this is not necessary. You can continuously work on your project with your co-workers after the hackathon.
5. Don’t limit it to tech only
Hackathons don’t have to be about programming only. We prepared lean startup workshop and people could practice lean canvas and customer validation process on projects. Head of our HR got inspired by agile approach and applied to her next project!
6. Let people work remotely
Some people can not join in person. The reasons may vary. They just have busy weekend or want to spend free time with their families. And that’s perfectly fine. They can still help remotely. Just make sure it’s easy for them to join you.
We learned a lot during the hackathon and what is more important we can use that knowledge in our professional life. We have new customer project coming up where we need to create Slack API. Jira Slack bot is going to save our back-office manager few of our tedious work per month. People went through quick Lean Startup workshop during the weekend which helps them understand business and product problems of our customer better. We are planning to release our Diary app and continue with experiments to enter new areas with cryptocurrency application.
What do you think about that form of learning? 😉