What I Learned at Our First Ever Hackathon

Hackathon Zak Team

A Hackathon… a mysterious word that popped up in our Slack channel one day. My initial thought – “what the hell is a Hackathon?” This mysterious word was soon clarified – a Hackathon is all about solving problems in a confined period of time and developing the mindset and muscle around the problem-solving process from idea to execution to commercial benefit. Sounds simple enough?

Getting started

Things moved quickly and what was once a simple mention soon turned into a full-blown event by the serious determination and effort by our lovely marketing specialist, Zak.

The big day was getting closer and closer; ideas were pitched and teams were assembled. I jumped on board the Zak train as I believed in her idea and thought we could make something seriously kickass.

The low-down

The morning of the Hackathon, the office was buzzing! We were given a pep talk, we were given our goody bags and then it was go-time. Our team started spitballing ideas immediately; many, many post-it notes were used (sorry trees) to define what our problem was and how we could fix it.

We then hit the streets and started chatting to the public to validate our ideas… turns out, I’m no sales person and didn’t take well to being rejected by 16 people in a row who didn’t want to speak to me. Anyway… I digress.

Our team kept coming up with amazing ideas but then someone would speak up and throw a spanner in the works. We decided by almost the end of day one that we needed help. We spoke to a couple of our mentors to help get us back on track. This proved to be super helpful and we felt like we finally had a decent grasp of what we could create.

The morning of day two there was a mini disaster and we were a few men down. We pushed through and started to nail down exactly what we were after. It all came together at the last minute and we were so proud of what we had come up with.

At pitch time, the whole office came together, there were snacks and beverages and everyone was so keen to see what the other teams had come up with. I absolutely loved seeing everyone get up and pitch their idea. The whole group was so supportive and excited to be able to participate.

What did I learn?

I learned that I work with some truly amazing, smart creatives, and when you are given the chance to put your heads together you can create something pretty damn great in just two days. I am stoked that I was able to be part of the very first one and cannot wait to have a crack at HealthEngine Hackathon – Round 2.

Written by Claire Santoro, People and Culture

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