After some months of preparation, we finally did it, we spent two exceptional days doing our first myShopi Hackathon !

Hacka… Whaaat ?

That’s the first big question of course, what is a hackathon ?

You probably have a lot of great employees and they do their job as they should. To some extent they even sometimes perform above expectations.

But…

Let’s imagine you could bring your best people from all horizons, departments or divisions together.
Let’s imagine that you would be able to get them fully energized and motivated for 48h non-stop.
Let’s imagine that they would work like crazy to innovate, to create the future of the company as they see it.

How would you feel about that ? I would feel really great 🙂
And that’s what brings you a hackathon !

And practically, what did you do ?

In a great external venue, we started by gathering 40 motivated people (that to be honest had little idea about what would happen to them).

Ideation

For the myShopi hackathon, we stated some objectives that the projects had to fill partially or completely:

  • Attract new users
  • Keep the existing users
  • Find new monetization possibilities

In this frame, the participants had all the freedom to come up with great ideas. Opportunities, threats, innovation, new business model, every idea was welcome. To help the participants to brainstorm before the hackathon, we did set up a blog where everyone from the company (participating to the hackathon or not) could put their ideas to inspire the others.

At the very beginning of the hackathon, around 12 innovative ideas were pitched by the participants. After a vote by the participants, 5 ideas were selected. And after letting the participants self-organize to form the teams, the five teams were ready to start working.

Working Time

In order to guide the teams just what was necessary, we gave two optional workshops during the hackathon:

  • Business Model Canvas: It’s a simple canvas helping to build the business model and making it very clear what the key aspects are. Typically, the participants iterate on their business model and continuously refine it until the end of the hackathon.img_0243
  • How to pitch: At the end of the 2 days, the teams will have 6 minutes to present their prototype and business plan in front of a jury. This workshop helped them to focus on what is expected by the jury, and what are the best practices for such a short presentation.

 

Coaches with various expertises, knowledge of the market and of the company were there during the 2 days available to answer questions from the teams, help them get information, or put them in contact with the right persons. These roles are key to help the different teams to achieve something concrete in a very short timespan.

20161020_112137During this working time, the teams organize their time as they want. It is therefore also very interesting to prepare some surprises or animation to let the steam go. In our case, we put at disposition VR goggles with different games and we organized a crazy challenge for the evening. We gave them one hour to do a flashmob ! And surprisingly…they did it…2016-11-03

 

The teams were so motivated that we saw during these 2 days teams that built their own apps, teams that went in the street to do surveys about their products, or even teams that already had their first interested prospects.

Jury Presentation

Just before the jury presentation, the teams had one rehearsal of their presentation, where the coaches and facilitators gave their final advices and then… showtime !

The jury was amazed by the energy and the motivation of the participants at the end of the hackathon. They also were positively surprised by the quality of all the different projects.
The choice was difficult, but in the end, the jury decided to award 2 teams:

  • Gamification
  • myShopi Chatbot

Each awarded team received time to work on their project. They have now to transform their first prototype into live features. And at this stage we are looking forward to see these innovations come into our app !

Some advices ?

From my point of view, the huge success of this event depends heavily on the animator/facilitator of the event. We had the chance to have one of the top hackathon expert in Belgium, Michel Duchateau (http://creadelta.be/animation-de-hackathons/)

He helped us from the preparation to the debriefing and created an amazing ambience during the whole event.

My key take aways ?

  • As always, preparation is key
  • Work Hard, Play Hard
  • Trust your employees and limit the constraints
  • Don’t forget to think about and to manage the after-hackathon

 

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