Recently I participated in my first ever hackathon – Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK)!
The RHoK hackathon runs on the same weekend in over 30 countries around the world. Here in Melbourne, we had around 60 people involved and it was held at Swinburne University.
There were 5 problems to solve, and 5 teams. The crowd was quite diverse; one of the teams had members from 8 different countries, and the youngest participants were in Year 11 at school.
Overall, it was a really great experience. Awesome to see how the event works and to meet so many enthusiastic people, and to experience how quickly a new team can come together, make collective decisions and use the Lean Startup methodology to deliver something useful.
My learnings were many, but included:
- At a hackathon, just like in the corporate world, you need a variety of skillsets to ensure optimum results. For example, the business analyst on our team played a key role in helping define the problem and minimal viable product (MVP)
- Problem owners are also key throughout the event to get (and keep!) people enthused about the solution (problem owners are people from NGO’s and social enterprises, who define the problem that needs solving)
- The time goes extremely quickly! And when you take out the time to get the team started, and the presentation after lunch on the second day, you only really have one day to work developing it
- People don’t necessarily need to commit for the whole weekend – some people only came for the first few hours, some left early, etc.
- I have lots to learn!
- The beer tastes reeeally good afterwards :)
My team comprised 9 people (2 problem owners, 1 BA, 1 marketer, 1 designer, 4 devs) – and over the course of the weekend we managed to create a live, working website! The site hasn’t been officially launched yet so I can’t yet publish the URL, though I can give some details on the tech stack: Bootstrap, SASS, Yeoman, Facebook Connect, Ruby Sinatra, PostgreSQL and Heroku.
The RHoK event is in December – I highly recommend going along if you can make it!