Internal hackathons rule! If you follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram you will have noticed that between the 18th – 20th December 2012, we were posting a lot about ‘Relocatr’ and ‘Extension’. This was because, here at import•io towers, we were undertaking an internal hackathon and these were the project names.
The purpose of this hackathon was for us to experience using the import•io platform ourselves, and to create new applications that show the platform at its best. The anticipation being that the final products could be presented as prime examples of how our platform can be used. In saying this, it was also a bit of fun and a wind down before Christmas. It would come as no surprise to people that know certain members of the team that here was an element of internal competition with the winning of prizes. Given out by David (our CEO) for reasons ranging from ‘the most stupid question of the day’ to ‘the best pitch’. The prizes themselves ranged from the bizarre, a calculator disguised as an iPhone, to the incredible, an AR Drone 2.0.
Before the 18th December David assigned teams, allowing each to create there own team names. Team “IOU” was formed of Chris B, Rich, Matt and Nick and team “Simply Data” was formed of myself (Alice), Bea, Niru, Chris A and Ian. Our brief was do anything as long as it highlighted all aspects of the platform and used a wide range of data sources. The three days were set out like any other hackathon, day one was idea creation and validation ending in a pitch. Day two was development and marketing, ending in day three’s final pitch and demo.
“IOU” created Relocatr, an application which allows users to search for the best location for work in their field. While “Simply Data” created Extension, a Google chrome browser plug-in which provides inline information supplementing any webpage open in a users browser.
After a lot of work, play, and the creation of two unique import•io platform applications, it was up to David and Emmanuel to judge. After admitting it was a close competition, “Simply data” won (grrrrr, Ed.). Picking up the unique import•io hackathon winners trophy, which now has pride of place in the import•io office, awaiting a rematch.
As a newbie to the technology and data industry, this was my first hackathon and it was a daunting prospect. I wondered, as a marketer, what I could bring to such a seemingly technology-based competition. I do not know how computers work or how online applications are made. All I know is how to use those applications. I thought that I would be a peripheral member of the team and that the three days could potentially be a bore. But how wrong I was.
In addition to being amazed by what the developers and data analysts could do and make in such a small amount of time, I managed to get fully involved, using my marketing skills to market and sell the idea. A vital part of any successful and profitable product and therefore hackathon. I managed to give the product a focused use, enabling us to market to a defined audience. I created a logo, social media sites, a product launch page, a Google chrome store mock up and pitch slides. It was a thrill to be so involved in such a team project.
From an outsiders perspective a hackathon can look as though its only for developers and data analysts, it’s not. It’s a good experience for marketers too. Testing your innovation and creativity as well as your marketing and sales skills in a restricted time frame. Developers and data analysts need marketers in their teams, as without them their amazing applications are just that, their’s. Its a challenge but so much fun, I would recommend any marketer to get involved in a hackathon.
by Alice Nutbrown