Our dev-team survived a hackathon, 1400 km away from home

Recently, the development team was challenged to come up with an entirely new solution to advance the way we obtain in-depth price proposals. In the form of a hackathon (“an event where people engage in rapid and collaborative engineering over a relatively short period of time”), we set out to design and build a production-ready tool in a short period of 5 days. We even took it a step further by packing our bags and setting up office in the bright sun of Valencia, Spain! 

How our development team
survived a hackathon,

while living together, 1400 km away from home


Why a hackathon?

Hackathons are perfect if you want to solve a problem or challenge very quickly. Instead of spreading out work over multiple weeks, all design and development is done as fast as possible. Apart from that, hackathons are a great way to break out of habits and try new things. You’ll get to try technologies you haven’t worked with before, and you might discover faster ways to build something. It’s also an opportunity for your team members to be highly collaborative.

Communication is key

As a developer, living and working abroad with your coworkers is a great way to build a strong team. But when you’re working on a very rushed project (and are all living together), that’s when communication is key!
There’s really not enough time to make mistakes caused by miscommunication, so you have to be aware of what others are working on. In our usual development cycle we spend quite a bit of time on refining feature requests, making sure they are clear and have an agreed technical solution. In the hackathon we were often working on the same code, solving problems along the way, which required constant communication to avoid issues later on when merging parts together.

Keep it fun

No matter how friendly you are with your coworkers during your 9-5, it all changes when you are asked to stay in the same apartment for almost two weeks. Luckily for us it worked out! Our head of Digital Product, Claudia Costa, happened to be our local guide and translator. Our evenings were filled with food, drinks, sightseeing, and we got to catch some sun on the beach. (28 degrees, in October!)

The payoff

We found it to be an extremely rewarding experience, and we would definitely recommend it to other teams. It felt great to finish an entire project within 5 days (especially when the environment tricks you into making it feel like a vacation). It has been really refreshing to “start over” on a new project, and it was a great team building exercise. We’ve taken this experience back to Amsterdam, to continue our work on the NRS, PerVizData and the other projects at IPknowledge.
Our new tool will be available soon, follow our LinkedIn to make sure you don’t miss it.

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