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January 25, 2022

Innovation Comes Together In Sendoso Hackathon

By Sendoso Engineering

Sendoso engineers are always looking for creative and practical solutions to complex problems. Here at Sendoso, our innovative team of engineers and employees from various groups teamed up to help solve these challenges in our annual Sendoso Hackathon. 

Whether it’s providing a new experience for our customers or improving internal processes with new tools, innovative solutions help the company evolve. 

At the beginning of Sendoso and with only a handful of employees, every project was considered a hack. Since then, our team has grown, and we’ve come a long way in bringing solutions to the forefront. However, we’ve never forgotten the great ideas that came from our humble beginnings.

What Is a Hackathon?

If you aren’t familiar with a hackathon, here’s a quick explanation: Hackathon is a marathon event in which participants design ‘hacks,’ which result in practical and creative solutions to specific problems. It’s becoming increasingly common in technology, programming, and IT development to have hackathon events.

The Hackathon concept has many definitions and interpretations. Sendoso’s VP of Engineering Fawad Naeem has a simple quote to sum up the hackathon event.

“Steven Johnson, an American writer, says ‘If you look at history, innovation does not come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.’ This is exactly what Sendoso Hackathon is all about.”

Innovation at Sendoso

To continue to innovate, Sendoso organizes a yearly hackathon event for employees. The goal is to allow employees to work on ideas outside their regular day-to-day projects. Recognizing that good ideas don’t just come from those who push code, the engineering team opened up projects to the entire company. 

The first Hackathon created a plethora of applied ingenuity, not just software products or features; anything from product and pitches to a new market experiment was considered a hack. The following are some notable examples from the previous Hackathon:

  • Gmail Integration
  • Scheduled Sends
  • Test Automation

The Hackathon Experience

Employees are placed into small groups, showcasing a wide range of skills from various teams. This helps the groups unite, and it brings vibrant ideas into practice. They are able to work as a team and bring innovation to the forefront. 

The rules are simple, a panel of six judges from Sendoso’s leadership team, including CEO Kris Rudeegraap and CTO Qaseem Shaikh, judge each team under the following criteria:

  • Group participation: At least five participants per group
  • Innovative idea: Commit to an idea, and show off your skills
  • Time crunch: 72 hours – and time starts now!!

This year, we had 85 participants and 32 teams across three continents. Out of all these ideas and groups, a tough decision was made to shortlist nine teams to compete in the Grand Finale Stage.

The teams were judged on the following five categories:

  1. Best Customer Experience
  2. Best Employee Experience
  3. Best Engineer Experience
  4. Most Likely to Change the Product Experience
  5. People’s Choice

For 72 hours, the teams went through a myriad of emotions. Laughter turned to weeping. Arguments flared. But amid all these emotions, the teams united to create features that we wanted to see in our products. Some of the happy hacks on this three-day event were:

  • Sending NFTs
  • Fix Flaky / Slowest / Most failed Specs
  • Improve Speed of Local Development
  • Google Calendar Plugin
  • Zoom Integration

Sendoso’s Hackathon Winners Are…

The final groups were narrowed down to nine.  The innovative ideas were presented at the Grand Finale Stage.  The winners are:

  • Best Customer Experience: Osama Inayat and Ayaz Ahmad Tarar for Pulling Together an easy to use Zoom Integration
  • Best Employee Experience: Junaid and Syed Fahad Ali for Building a CSM Dashboard
  • Best Engineer Experience: Muhammad Raza, Mubeen Tahir, GS Shahid, Fahad Idrees, and Hamza Irfan for their work Fixing Slow and Flaky Specs
  • Most likely to change the Product Roadmap: Joe Soboleski, Grace Donegan, Martyn Duffy, Isidro, and Maude Collins for their work Gamifying The Sending Experience
  • People’s Choice: Joel, Marcel, Navid, Fawad, and Grant Shively for their work Improving our Local Development Speed

It’s More Than a Hackathon

We discovered that hackathons provide networking opportunities, resulting in increased collaboration, a better understanding of the product, and solving future problems. These events encourage developers at Sendoso to try out unique ways to approach a problem and engage all the other aspects of a business. They could pitch in with their creativity and share ideas with peers, making them an ideal testbed for new tech concepts.

Hackathons at Sendoso show how to design innovation by associating cross-functional teams together. For Sendoso, the Hackathon is more than just a competition; it is an opportunity to nurture team bonding and establish new relationships with people we wouldn’t usually have the chance to work with but who are equally committed to seeing Sendoso thrive. At the same time, team morale and collaboration improved. And diversity is no exception.

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