April 13th, 2017 was a special day for everyone at Net Solutions.
We organized our very first Hackathon: a 48-hour non-stop event where various teams collaborated to solve a real problem.
This does not imply that the concept of Hackathon was new to us. Our teams have always been pushing themselves hard to solve complex problems while working on various software projects.
But, this experience turned out to be more exceptional because we all got together to solve particular problems for ourselves.
The thought behind this Hackathon was simple – solving problems in an unconventional manner. Instead of weeks or months, we attempted to solve them in two days. The idea was to go beyond the traditional methods of problem-solving and fostering collaboration between distinct teams.
Here is what Abhi Garg, our Head of Products and Digital Strategy, had to say about the concept of this Hackathon:
“To understand this Hackathon, one has to understand the concept of many innovations and what they mean for Net Solutions. We have been doing software application development, solving customer experience and digital experience problems, for the last 17 years. The one thing that hasn’t changed over these years is the fabric of our DNA, which is to constantly challenge the rules of the game; and to question the value that we bring to the table for our clients.”
Before we run through the sequential happenings of the 48-hour Hackathon for you, let us briefly introduce the teams and help you understand what they achieved.
The teams had to build a solution for delivering personalized content and customer experiences for website users, while taking into account their locations and behavior.
Drupal, Kentico and Liferay.
Meet the Teams
About 50 people participated in the Hackathon. Mentors and colleagues, the IT and Admin teams supported them.
Here are their team monikers:
PHP – Surgical Strikers
PHP – Head Honchos
PHP – Technocrats
Java – Liferay Jaguars
Java – Liferay Risers
.NET – DotNet Avengers aka DNA
Here’s How the 48-Hour Event Unfolded
The Hackathon started at 7pm IST sharp, on April 13.
Teams were briefed on the agenda of the Hackathon and the rules and instructions were explained to them very clearly.
We provided kits to each of the teams for basic needs like refreshment and hygiene to survive the following 48-hours.
Day One – The First 24 Hours
Soon after a briefing by the event heads, the teams reserved their workstations. Night was setting in and teams were full of excitement to see how each of them would crack the code in mere 48 hours.
All the teams brainstormed and built their action plans. The brainstorming continued for over an hour for most of the teams before any actual coding began.
Meet Our Heroes Who Stayed Up Through the Night
While most of our participants fought sleepiness and remained glued to the computers throughout the Hackathon, there were some who braved it most, especially on the night of April 13 and early morning of April 14.
Relentless Support by Our IT Team
Our brilliant IT Team remained at the helm of assistance throughout the 48-hours, and ensured our company’s systems ran uninterrupted for each of the six teams.
Thumbs Up to Our Admin Staff
The Admin team provided the food and all the logistics that our teams needed to survive during the non-stop 48-hour event. In addition to organizing the meals, they ensured the availability and maintenance of all the infrastructure facilities to make it a comfortable experience for the participants.
Kudos to Our Lovely Ladies Who Participated
Our female employees showed just as much enthusiasm for the event as the men. They participated zealously and were not deterred by the odd hours.
Day Two – The Last 24 hours
The first 24 hours went relatively well. The pressure started mounting during the night of April 14 and early morning of April 15 when the teams realized that they had a mere 24 hours left to build their solutions.
Sleep Deprivation Hovered Over Our Teams
It was past midnight. One of the team members, seeing almost half of the participants struggling to keep awake and focused, came up with an idea. He loaded a music album on his computer, got everyone together, and proposed a strategic pause. They danced!
Excitement Mounted the Next Morning
The morning of April 15 witnessed a new wave of excitement and anticipation. The teams looked to shift gears, and energy was running high, as the Hackathon entered its final stage.
The concerns were not restricted to the ticking of the clock, while the deadline was fast approaching. Competitiveness kept the team members both wary and curious about the progress of the other teams throughout. Friendly spying was especially at its peak on the last day, with teams trying to figure out who was leading the pack.
Wrapping Up the Hackathon
After 48 hours, the event concluded on April 15 at 7 PM. We saw happy faces as the Hackathon ended, however the teams were still curious to find out the results. Everyone said that they were interested in taking part in all such events in the future. This spoke volumes of the great experiences they had.
Each of the teams presented how they approached the problem and their solution to the judges. Besides the judges, people from other teams asked questions regarding their solutions. More than just an evaluation, it was a learning experience for everyone to understand how they could do better.
When Everybody Felt Like A Winner
Then came the D-Day when the results were announced. Everyone was excited to hear the results. However, regardless of the results, everyone who participated was a winner in terms of the vast amount of hard work and dedication each put forth.
The CEO of Net Solutions, Sameer Jain, thanked the teams for all the hard work they put in to come up with their solutions. He also helped everyone understand the purpose of the Hackathon.
The celebrations were paramount, when one of the teams were awarded the winner’s trophy.
At Net Solutions, we recognize every small effort. So, we did not forget to thank our other participants and the support teams.
This Hackathon helped us discover the unmatched talent of our employees and it clearly brought out their personal traits. We were also able to recognize some great leaders and team players.
Our Achievements In the Hackathon
The excitement, energy, and synergy that Hackathon brought about in our campus helped us realize how such events can serve as opportunities for other organizations to encourage cross-functional teams of employees to voice their opinions, as well as innovate product ideas by locking themselves in a closed setting until development is complete.
Here is what Aditi Jain, COO of Net Solutions had to say about the Hackathon:
“Net Solutions has been in the process of redefining itself as an engineering extension for businesses seeking digital transformation. In this particular quarter, the idea was lay to bets on a select few a products or platforms, which we could leverage in this journey. The instrument chosen for this was the Hackathon.”
Some Takeaways from the Hackathon
- Problem-solving with unconventional methods
- Cross-team collaboration
- Breaking the myth that complex problems take weeks to solve
- Leadership skills
- Time management during tight deadlines
- Community building
Hear it from Our Participating Teams
“The greatest challenge for our team was that none of us had experience working independently on any of the platforms chosen for this Hackathon’s solution. So, for us, the development was coupled with an extra amount of risk-taking and brainstorming. Initially, it appeared too challenging. But, as we progressed, the ticking of the clock kept us focused and we found our way. This was an accomplishment.”
-Rajnish Kumar Sharma
“This Hackathon involved sleepless nights. But, believe me: this wasn’t a big deal for my team. For us, the challenge was to fit a development cycle into 48 hours. We hardly had time for iterations. But, we amazingly managed it within 48 hours.”
“I had never experienced this kind of excitement where we had to conceptualize, research, develop, test, and release a solution so quickly. We happily accepted the challenge, but none of us knew how we would manage. At one point, about halfway through, we lost hope. But, soon one of us came up with a new idea, and one step after another, we developed a solution.”
Hackathons are opportunities that help organizations foster innovation and problem-solving in a creative and unconventional way. This is a platform that lets the creativity touch its peak, breaking the silos; allowing disparate teams to develop solutions. It allows top management to encourage a greater involvement with their teams in gathering ideas and realizing them in a much faster, collaborative, and creative way.
This Hackathon added another feather in our cap and inspired us to organize more such events in the future. The energy among our participants was sky-high and the top management, including our CEO, appreciated such.
You can visit our Facebook album to learn more about the happenings of the 48-hour power-packed event.