First Annual Hackathon
In December we ran our first company hackathon and we had a great time! If you’re wondering why we’re writing about a hackathon that happened 7 months ago, read to the end to see which hackathon feature made it live in June.
But first, why did we do it?
- The Hinge team has been growing really quickly. Over half of the people at the company joined remotely during the pandemic and we wanted to make sure people got to know each other, especially across teams that don’t normally work together.
- Hackathons are fun!
- Hackathons are good for learning. We also go to conferences and take classes together, but self-directed learning-by-doing is really valuable.
- Hackathons produce great ideas.
What did we do?
We scheduled the hackathon for December 21-23 during a holiday code freeze so that folks would be free to focus on the hackathon and so we could end the year on a high note.
We created a slack channel, wrote a company announcement, and shared an empty sign-up sheet. We made a kick-off calendar event and a close-out calendar event. That’s it.
Of course, all the magic is in what people were able to produce together.
Our first hackathon EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS. That sounds corny, but it’s true. The quality of the ideas, the quality of the output, and the amount of fun we had blew us all away.
People self-organized into ten projects, ranging across internal tools to make our lives better, amazing new feature suggestions, and stunning data visualizations. Participants who wanted to have their projects judged were evaluated across five criteria:
- Originality: Creativeness or innovativeness of the idea
- Usefulness: Does this provide value? Might people actually use it?
- Execution: How well does the project work or function by the end of the hackathon, or how complete is it?
- Learning: How much did the participants stretch to learn something new?
- ACE-yness: How much does the project reflect our cultural values of Authenticity, Courage, and Empathy?
We ended up selecting two winning projects: one solo project and one group project. The solo project is a slackbot named Hingie now integrated into many of our channels. It provides a really fun way to give shoutouts to team members by awarding them emoji. It was carefully written to be extensible, so other features it includes are allowing developers to reserve infrastructure, generating helpful internal links, and generally injecting a bit of silliness into our work. I can’t share the winning group project since it’s a pretty cool feature we may or may not be working on (wink-wink). But! I am happy to share that we’ve already taken features to production from one of our other hackathon projects: LGBTQ+ Inclusion.
Our LGBTQ+ Inclusion team scoped out a ton of features to help make the app more inclusive and included beautiful designs to bring them to life. In June, we released two of those features: Pronouns and Sexuality. While we already allowed users to indicate non-binary gender in the app, there had previously been no way for users to share their pronouns. The Pronouns feature lets users display multiple pronouns they use. Similarly for Sexuality, users had previously been able to indicate if they were looking for men, women, or everyone, but there was no way for them to display to others if they were gay, bisexual, or any other sexuality. We are incredibly excited to offer users these richer forms of self-expression and stay tuned for more upcoming LGBTQ+ inclusion features coming out of this project.
The hackathon was a huge success and we look forward to repeating this year with an even bigger team and more great ideas.