Our first hackathon

After starting with croissants and some excellent coffee we talked about why we would organise a hackathon. We reminded ourselves of our 3 pillars: Cultivating Talent, Inspiring Community and Innovating Business. These 3 core beliefs all come together in a hackathon. Cultivating Talent is about being pulled out of our everyday projects and being given the opportunity to learn something new. Inspiring Community is about working together and getting to know each other in a different setting. Innovating Business is about thinking about a real-life problem and coming up with a solution.


To prepare for this hackathon, I made up an agenda

  • 9u: introduction
  • 9u15: mission
  • 9u45: choose your track
  • 10u: sprint 1
  • 11u15: sprint 2
  • 12u30: break
  • 13u15: sprint 3
  • 15u: all hands meeting
  • 16u: hackathon review

As you can see this is a very short timeframe in which we wanted to actually build something. That something was an application to locate a device indoor, e.g. machines in a warehouse, using Arduino, Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) and an Android device. Furthermore we decided to have a sidetrack to brainstorm about other possible solutions.

So we divided into three tracks: hardware, application and product. Every track was assigned a coach to assist the teams and everybody was free to choose a track. Amazingly every track had 4-5 people, so self-organisation does work ;-)

In the first sprint the hardware track and application track started with discussing a possible solution. How should the hardware communicate with the application? Should the device make a sound or should the application? Then the teams started working in their own area. The product track started mapping the flow on a whiteboard and discussing things on the smartboard while doing some research.
After one hour the tracks came back together and we did a sprint review. What has been done during the sprint? What have they achieved? Is there something blocking them? What have they planned for the next sprint?
We did 3 sprints in total and ended the day with a review meeting. Between sprint 2 and 3 we had a (healthy) lunch and went for a walk outside to clear the heads.

Hackaton pic 1
Hackaton pic 2

At the end of the day, not all tracks delivered what they had hoped, but we managed to do some good things:

  • The hardware device had a first prototype
  • The application was 80% ready
  • The product track worked out 2 alternative solutions
  • We worked together
  • We had fun

What went wrong:

  • The connection between the android device and the RaspberryPi via Bluetooth LE did not work yet.
  • More time would have been very welcome.

To conclude some ideas for the next hackathon:

  • Let everybody pitch a project to have more involvement.
  • Create teams instead of tracks to work out different solutions.
Hackaton pic 3

Take a look at our Hackathon album