The idea was simple, get everyone to the office secret hideout, come up with an idea that’s challenging enough and requires the skills and knowledge of every person in our dev-team, and try to pull off the best hackathon on a regular end-of-the-work-week Friday to kick off the weekend in style.
And so we did it.
Here’s how we held our hackathon, heist style. (Best read in the voice of George Clooney)
Before you can set up a plan you need a target, a goal.
To define your target you get your heads together in a good ol’ fashioned brainstorm. The rules were simple: come up with a straightforward solution that could potentially make the lives of our community managers easier.
So we set out to do just that.
After some indecisiveness and debating, we came up with something perfect. A browser plugin that allows a manager to instantly turn a post on a Social Media platform into a community campaign.
Now that we had our final objective in front of our eyes, it was time to come up with a plan.
For this hackathon to succeed we had to look at it from every angle.
First step, we needed a mockup to give us some ideas on how the browser plugin should work. From there, we’d create a design that was simple, user-friendly, and would not interfere with the inner workings of our chosen Social Media network.
At the same time, back- and front-end had two extra things to take care of.
- We needed our back-end to handle authentication so that no manager could log in to places where they were not supposed to be.
- While the front-end needed to be able to turn any incoming Social Media posts into a campaign instantly.
And that’s not all.
On top of that, we needed intel to confirm we were actually on the right track. You know, to keep ourselves 11 steps ahead of our competitors. Not that that’s not already the case, but still, for good measure.
Meet the team
There’s no plan without a team, and to hold an amazing hackathon you need an amazing team.
Here are the amazingly talented and extraordinary people of the Ambassify Development Team:
The Head of the team is our CTO Wim, codename: Sitebase. He calls the shots and is the mastermind behind our hackathon operation
Next, we have Jorgen, Full Stack Developer, and back-end genius. This guy is loyal to the bone and a true ally to rely on when you find yourself in a pinch.
Our second Full Stack Developer is Gert. He’s the one that keeps us all on track and is not afraid to say “no”. (And he does say it quite often, now that I think about it 🤔)
The pixel-precision guy on the team is Stefan. His front-end experience combined with his design skills are perfect for a job like this.
Then we have Gaël, our latest front-end addition to the team. His experience in the field makes him a valuable and much-needed asset.
Last but not least there’s our Data Analyst: Vincent. He’s in charge of providing us with the latest intel, making sure we don’t miss our mark.
We all knew our mission and we all had our tasks: Wim and Gert would handle authentication and security, Jorgen and Gaël would focus on the Social Media platform integration and campaign creation, and Stefan prepared the mockups while Vincent provided the data and looked into our competitors.
We had our target, we had our team assembled, and with our endless supply of coffee, we were ready.
Our intel told us that our competitors had some footing in the area. However, their focus lies with “content collecting”, taking the form of collecting posts from a variety of sources or networks into a single overview, something that we already do within our platform.
Another thing that our intel showed was that around 38.19% of all share/like/.. campaigns on our platform are posts from LinkedIn. So our focus became clear. We would take a User-Centered approach, and make a browser plugin that’s focused on LinkedIn.
For now at least…
To save time we chose to develop a Chrome Extension since most of our users use Chrome. With some extra, we could still look at expanding to different browsers.
After a quick briefing, everyone got started.
We were in the zone.
Given the level of concentration you can gauge from this photo, it didn’t take long before the first sketches were finished and a general idea of how the plugin would work was formed.
And not long after that, the first integration into LinkedIn was achieved, we had a working proof of concept.
We were on a roll, you could feel the tension in the air as it all got quiet, and the only sounds filling the room were those of keys being pressed down on keyboards and the occasional sip of coffee.
Our lunch break only gave us extra fuel to take things to the next level. And that's when it all started to take shape.
The design started to look really good, and at the same time, the first prototype was well on its way.
But alas, we suddenly came to a painful realization. The clock had run out and we could no longer stay at our secret hideout. We were so focused on the job that we forgot to keep track of the time.
Wait, was this the end? Did we fail? It can’t be…right?
No, it’s not the end of the story.
Those who know what hackathons are usually like might be thinking: “Where’s the all-nighter, where’s the 3 AM pizza?”. Chill, we decided on a different route. After an exciting day of coding, we went for drinks and ended the day with lots of beer, a belly filled with fries, and lots of laughter.
We only went home long after the sun had set. So you could say that we did pull an all-nighter — just a different kind.
In the end, there’s only one conclusion to our single-day hackathon. Our goals might have been a bit too much to complete in a single day, although we were mighty close.
So what now, you might think.
Well, our ambitions haven’t died out. We want to finish the job, sooner rather than later. So keep an eye out because one of our next blog posts might contain the revelation of our exclusive browser plugin!