BOOM! It happened! We have just learned that we were awarded 1st prize at the Hacksummit 2016 Hackathon powered by Koding.We’re beyond happy to have been recognised, especially since the turnout was quite overwhelming - 98.000 contestants submitted over 1250 projects.This is a story of how we came up with the idea, made it through 48 hours of coding and won $100.000.
Coming up with a good idea is not easy, coming up with a $100k idea is even more difficult. We spent quite a lot of time brainstorming and shaping our vision.From the get-go, we decided to choose Productivity from the three themes offered by the hackathon organisers (the other two were Gaming and Data Viz).Productivity is a well-developed branch, but we were determined to create something that a company like ours would actually use and find useful.
Soon, we’ve noticed that our ideas revolve around two concepts - creating better, more productive teams in professional environments and using Tinder-like “yes or no” mechanism (Teamder, anyone?).We figured that what could really simplify the process of building teams is continuous mutual feedback coming from coworkers. Having quantitative insights about the workers’ performance, the managers can make more data-driven decisions.What if the employees themselves could monitor their own progress at the same time? Bingo, it’s a win-win!This is the basic premise of Propsy, the app we ended up building.
All seems well and good, but there’s one major issue - how do we go about the peer evaluation aspect?Workplace surveys usually don’t come at the right time, have some unnecessary questions and sometimes make you go into details when you’re not able to provide any.The way we solved this is that employees receive notifications about questions awaiting. If they have time, they can answer right away (up to 5 questions - we don’t want them to get too engrossed in the evaluation process) or get back to them later.Also, these are yes-or-no questions (hello again, Tinder!) but, if they choose to do so, users can add some qualitative feedback as well - provide useful links or words of encouragement.
The whole process has a gamification element to it - users see a “top contributors” leaderboard in their dashboard, rewarding people that answer the most questions and provide useful feedback.What are we measuring?Technical skills based on the projects people participated in, but also personality traits that are important in the workplace - creativity, teamwork, confidence, planning and communication.This way people can monitor their professional and personal progress, set goals and, you guessed correctly, improve their overall productivity.
48 hours seems like a lot of time, you could fit two seasons of 24 there (that’s the level of jokes we achieved towards the end of the hackathon).48 hours is not that much time, however, when you have to make an app with complex backend and beautiful visualisations.Add to that a landing page plus feeding the app with data and you have quite a lot on your plate.
Fortunately, our team was really determined and hustling from the get-go.Fueled by pizza, snacks and much needed energy drinks, we powered through the hackathon, adding the finishing touches till the last minute.The team was truly stellar and there’s no better feeling than knowing that their efforts were recognised by the judges.
Oh, and one fun linguistic fact - Propsy, obviously, comes from “giving props” but this word itself is actually a Polish equivalent of said expression.OK, so we won 1st place at a worldwide hackathon - is there a better validation of the fact that you’re on a right track with your app? We take it as an ultimate sign not to rest on the laurels and just eat $100.000 worth of pizza.
We’re ready to get back to working on Propsy and then releasing it as a fully functioning product.We’re excited to make a product that emphasizes the need of IT industry to recognise that performance and teamwork should be considered more important than age, gender or race. Follow us on Twitter to get all the details first!