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How to win silver at a hackathon with no designers and developers on your team

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There are 3 things about our hackathons that I’d like to emphasize. First, 10Clouds is full of talented people, and Hackdays are a way of appreciating and squeezing out every single drop of organizational, developer and designer skills. Second, it’s also an opportunity to create something that goes beyond your day-to-day responsibilities. Third, you don’t have to be a software engineer to be a Hackday Champion.

There were no programmers on our team, but it hasn’t stopped us from winning silver.
We wanted to do something different. Get away from holding job interviews and managing products and teams. Do something both cool and useful for the company.

Our plan was to deliver a boosted up versions of recruitment ads we post on Facebook. Until then we usually had one pre-designed still image template, which was later posted to ads and fed with links via Open Graph. This time we decided we wanted video. Everybody expects videos and 10Clouds shouldn’t be any different.

An important part of the recipe was not only to come up with a finished “product” but also to ensure that our approach would be replicable in the typical everyday working conditions. It had to take no more than 2-3 hours for a designer. Our reasoning was that if they were to spend more time on it, they would probably not deliver anything due to their other, more important, obligations.

At first, we thought we’d make short video loops that could be edited into boomerangs and cinemagraphs, inspired by the works of Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck. A promising idea, but even if we’d done it, it probably wouldn’t be that easily replicable in our day-to-day work. Nobody would have time to create a whole video set just to do one ad. Here’s just sample proof of concept we did to check boomerang capability.

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Designers, developers, beware!

Then we realized that we had a lot of video footage from other hackdays, parties and events. Why not use that? That way we gave the old videos new life in four video ads.

We selected the material for editing according to 4 different job offerings, and created a new video template for superimposing text over video in accordance with the 10Clouds brand guidelines. And here’s a fun fact – none of us works as a designer.
 

Lessons learned

Facebook new job ad

  • First, sometimes it’s good to have an amazing concept of a revolutionary racecar, but starting with a hatchback is fine. An actual finished product is worth more than a perfect undelivered idea (check out that video). There’s also a great polemic post from Ustwo about how important it is to nail down that process.
  • Second, always remember that groundbreaking ideas will probably need a lot of resources. Often, though, if you attempt to use as little stuff as possible, it will make your work somewhat groundbreaking by itself (hackathon runner-ups without a line of code, duh!).
  • Third, keep your mind open and take advantage the potential of your teammates and employees, just as we do every day!

Do you run hackathons at your company? What do they look like? We’re very curious if you give a shot to non-technical projects, too!

by Jan Ambroziewicz, Project Manager

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