The Hackathon – When a Month Becomes a Day
Hackathon – /ˈhakəθɒn/
“An event in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.”
Today was hackathon day. Every group tried to condense their month’s worth of work in a single day. Nearing the end of the workday, we would then do an internal pitch to our fellow students and coaches, with the best pitch winning lunch on management’s dime! It was definitely all hands on deck.
Team Prisma’s approach
All teams had about 7 hours to complete their pitches and strategy. Let’s just say the good kind of software projects require a tad more time to be complete.
For those who are not yet in the loop: Prisma is a project that tries to better connect caregivers and people with dementia. Dementia is a touchy subject, and it really is hard for care homes to have the necessary empathy and knowledge to provide them with the humane care they need. We do this by letting family share memories in a private, facebook-like environment. In our pitch, we wanted to make sure the audience felt what we were trying to do – that there was more to this for us than clean code and a happy customer.
So instead of spending maximum effort and all brain power on a working prototype, we spent a lot of effort on getting the pitch right. This included having a demoable prototype with real content. Frederik told us the story of his grandmother and shared some of her pictures and interests. We added her favourite pictures, music and places as stories. We did two practice pitches before doing the “real” one, taking into account feedback group members and fellow students gave us. This definitely helped us come up with a short and powerful story to tell.
4 o’clock in the afternoon, go time. All teams handed in their presentations and got ready to rumble. The group order was randomised. It was very interesting to see what other groups were working on. We kiiiind of had an idea about the projects, but this really helped us understand scope, target group, purpose and a group’s plan of execution. The audience cast their votes by reacting on Slack, our method of communication. The more reactions, the better the pitch:
We might not have won with Prisma, but we certainly did accomplish the goal of this hackathon. There were revelations on how we’d approach the app and how we’d communicate this to a customer. We got our first real taste of teamwork and some of us definitely got dragged out of our comfort zone again. It’s been a fast paced and interesting first week, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.