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Hackathon Event in the Making | Who’s the Mastermind?

April 8, 2021
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A Hackathon Event is Born

Every great event idea comes from somewhere, regardless of how big, small or unexpected it could be. In the case of Teravision Technologies’s internal Hackathon 2020, the inspiration came from internal demand after an invitation from an unlikely source. To learn a little more about our Hackathon, you can check our previous post about Teravision’s Hackathon 2020

Why were they invited to the event?  How did the Hackathon grow from there? Who helped organize the event? To answer all these questions, we sat down with Roberto Ramirez in an interview to discuss his experience organizing the event, the goals he had for it, and understanding his logic behind the decisions made.

The Interview

Question:

First of all, how was the idea for the Hackathon first brought up? Did you have any previous experience organizing events like these?

Roberto Ramirez:

The idea to organize the Teravision Hackathon first came up from a dedicated development team that I manage. They went to a Hackathon event organized by our assigned client who kindly invited them. Although they didn’t participate, they told me everything that they liked about the event, and how they would’ve liked to participate. The idea resonated with us because first, everyone loves doing Hackathons, and second it goes well with our company’s values. Based off of that idea, we made a proposition and pitched it to Héctor and Ricardo, they liked the idea and we executed.

Q:

Who else helped organize the event? Did you do it alone?

RR:

No way, I didn’t do it alone at all! [The marketing team] helped us in terms of communications, and Lissette, [our HR Coordinator], also helped. Verónica and Jóse, [our design leads at the time], were extremely helpful, and Marlene, [part of the design team] was the one that did all the designs for the event. Léster [another member of our design team] also came up with some great design propositions, but we ended up going with Marlene’s. Raúl and Franz, [our VP of Engineering and CTO, respectively], also gave us a lot of feedback. That was pretty much the team.

Q:

The idea of the event was to create a product using Flutter. Why this technology in particular? What was the logic behind it?

RR:

That is a very good question! The idea was originally to use AWS. After discussing it with Franz, he liked the idea but there were many logistical problems surrounding it. That was when we thought about using Flutter because of its increasing relevance in the market. Plus we really didn’t have any experience using it prior to the event. It wasn’t our first option, but it turned out to be the best one.

Q:

There was also an element of being on top of the latest trends and expanding our skillset portfolio, correct?

RR:

Yes, commercially that was one of the considerations. However it was also something that the rest of the team really liked and stuck out better than other technologies that might not have the same pull. We also didn’t want it to be a technology that everyone knew how to use. Like I said before, no one at the company had prior experience using Flutter, but they knew of it. So there were three considerations: Commercial interests, general interest of our developers in the technology, and no experience using said technology.

Q:

Other than being an organizer, you were a judge in the event. In your opinion, how did you see the dynamic with your fellow judges and the overall mood of the participants?

RR:

I wasn’t a judge. There were three main groups in the event: the participants in the event, the judges that review the products and their presentations, and the clients, which I was a part of. The client group was made according to the methodology used to organize the Hackathon. Normally, teams in a Hackathon receive tasks that they have to complete and that’s it. Here, we gave them a task and a framework that would help them figure out what product they would prefer to develop that is also useful for the company. This group consisted of the administrative personnel, and I was part of that group to ensure that the product development process also had some tones of entrepreneurship in them. In fact, each team was given a guide that shows them the ideal process for developing a new product based off of the client’s needs. I wanted to give each team a lesson in entrepreneurship which I think is very unique to our event, and I have not seen in other Hackathons before. 

Q:

So the client’s role was more like an advisory role? Were there daily meetings like in the day to day company activities?

RR:

They actually acted more like a potential client. You are assigned a client and then have meetings with them every day. That wasn’t the case here, the teams were exploring ideas and showing off MVPs to the “clients”. For example, during the first few hours a team could meet with these “clients” in order to present their ideas, we would listen and discuss the ideas to later give recommendations to the teams. they would then take the feedback and create an MVP around it, like a presentation or mock up, in order for them to validate or refute said comments. It was an incremental back and forth between the teams and the “clients” until they reached a product that was similar to what the client was thinking about.

Q:

How did you evaluate those products? I understand there was one category called “Teravisionality”. What does “Teravisionality” mean to you?

RR:

“Teravisionality” was kind of like a wildcard in the event of a tie, which actually happened. So “Teravisionality” was a bit more discretional. I advised the judges on this point to think of themselves like the Sharks in Shark Tank, and consider raher on a scale of 1-10 how likely they would be to invest in said idea if it were a business venture. Anyway like I said, it was a wildcard that each judge evaluated with their own criteria. 

Q:

What were your thoughts on the presented products? Did you think that the event achieved the general objective?

RR:

Yes. After the event, we did a survey, categorized depending on whether you participated in the event or not. The majority of the answers from the group of participants showed that they were interested in continuing developing the projects started in the event. The nature of a Hackathon makes it impossible to really create a complete project, so it was interesting to find that they wanted to continue working on the project, because it shows that they didn’t deliver something just for the sake of doing it, but they actually enjoyed the entire product development process. 

Q:

Was there anything indicating some sort of support of continuing these projects in for some kind of Flutter based portfolio for the company?

RR:

Individually, not so much, but there were a few that manifestet their interest like Héctor and Raul, but there hasn’t been any sort of follow up. What I do know is that after the event, there came a few clients that needed a project using Flutter. 

Q:

Do you have any intention of organizing a second edition of the event? Have the participants manifested any desires to participate in another one? 

RR:

Completely. I’m very interested in organizing another event this year with specific changes to the methodology. I saw that the event’s entrepreneurial side was well received by everyone. Many of the participants came up to me and mention their ideas for different apps after the event. This allows me to understand how these changes can work in the future. The entrepreneurial spirit is going strong with software developers, so this year’s event could potentially explore more the entrepreneurial side of things and expand how long it lasts from the original 48 hours to a full week and that the potential clients might not just be internal ones but also external as well, but really I would have to work on the details a bit more. From the participants’ side, like I said, we did a survey after the event, and the vast majority of the participants of the event are willing to participate not just in this event, but other company events like these in general, so the future looks good!

This is Only the Beginning

With such positive feedback received from the participants of this event, we can be sure that more events will be well on their way! The only place for our staff to go is up, and we’ll be there every step of the way!


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