Living the hacklife: 30.5 hours at Hack24 2017

Topic: Developers

First, a quick note about why we support hackathons.
One: it’s really important to give back to our local developer community. Nottingham is rapidly becoming a tech hub, and we want to keep that momentum going by supporting events like Hack24.
Two: they’re a lot of fun – and a chance to stretch some less well-used coding muscles – for our team. And three, in the long run, they help to position Esendex as a dev-friendly employer.
So that’s why we do it, and Hack24 is one of the most important events in our calendar.

The hack diary of Paul Maloney

Saturday

9:00AM: my first Hack24 as a sponsor, judge and volunteer, and it starts with the distribution of (if I do say so myself) some rather inspired swag.
Offered all 35 teams their very own mini-hack kit: whiteboards, post-its and sharpies. 30 teams accepted. I’m taking that as a win.
Hack Starter Kits
11:35AM: and breathe; intro to the Esendex challenge is done.
It’s about finding ways to communicate with Generation Z (those born after the mid-1990s) who, research is telling us, are moving away from traditional communication methods such as SMS and email.
Had a good chat with the official Esendex team. They’re (obviously) banned from entering our challenge, so have opted to take part in one that focuses on measuring employee engagement in the workplace.
Slightly alarmed by the direction of their thoughts – something about the “Arousal Factor” of their environment on a heatmap…
2:00PM: lunchtime! I’ve got to say, I knew before attending that an event like this needs a huge amount of organisation but the minutiae of it amazes me.
The whole event is meticulously thought out from meal preparation to table and seat planning to maximise potential for social interaction and optimise hack time.
6:00PM: delivered the last of my pep talks for the day – some people were beginning to feel they’d had enough and were ready to throw in the towel.
It is pretty hardcore – you can tell most people are planning to pull an all-nighter – so a little encouragement is crucial in keeping team spirits up. After all there are prizes at stake!
Hack24 Sunday Morning

Sunday

8:29AM: morning everyone! Smells of dedication in Nottingham Council House…
1:00PM: videos being filmed left, right and centre. Glad I’ll have the input of the judges of the other challenges to help me make a decision on the winning entry…
4:30PM: delighted to award Hey Pesto the prize for Esendex’s challenge! Here’s their winning submission:

Hey Pesto chose a communication channel that is becoming more popular with the tech savy younger generation – Amazon Alexa – but also used friendly, social speech in their conversation with the end user to make them feel comfortable and to treat the sender as a friend rather than an organisation.
This approach made the conversation seem more natural rather than talking to an automated bot.
It’s worth mentioning that Hey Pesto are one of two all-female teams at Hack24. I’m a big supporter of women in tech so this is really encouraging.
Hey Pesto Esendex
5:00PM: More happy news: the Esendex team came runners up in their challenge. The ‘arousal factor’ turned out to be a provocative name for a really neat idea (phew!). Watch their submission here.
6:00PM: I’m done. What an amazing, exhausting, brain-frying, brilliant experience. Roll on Hack24 2018!

Author Avatar
Paul Maloney

Paul joined Esendex in November 2016 after working as a dev manager in both commercial and public sector organisations. As part of the Nottingham Technical Community, he is dedicated to building Esendex’s relationships in the industry, especially around diversity in tech. Paul's teams build and maintain the multi-channel communication product from sites in Nottingham and Derby.