First Hackfest at Work4 Labs

January 8, 2013 6:55 pm Published by Florent Bachelier

Over the past few months at Work4 Labs, we realized:

1. We have impressive ideas for new products, but not enough time to develop them.
2. We have incredible knowledge on each individual team, but not enough time to share it with one another.

After many coffee-fueled discussions, we came up with the idea of organizing a “Hack Fest”* in the Paris office. Beyond just a coding marathon, we wanted an event that involved as many of our co-workers as possible–including members of our San Francisco team–and mixed up the teams to ensure the greatest amount of knowledge sharing and creativity.

Here is how our first-ever Hack Fest was run: each team had 5 people, with at least one non-technical and 2 technical team members. Instead of stating a clear goal or outcome, we gave our teams a broad topic to hack: social recruiting.

Work4 Hackfest showed how we could innovate the social recruiting market

On the 20th of December at noon in Paris, we gave a quick explanation of the event rules and logistics, as well as gave out goodies (awesome stickers and T-shirts! 🙂 ). Then each team went on their own to start brainstorming. This moment was for all of us a sensational exchange of ideas with a ton of reflection on “technical feasibility” and “product relevancy.”

After two hours of work, Matt, our Head of Product, woke up (it was 5:00 AM for him) to give feedback to each team. After this meeting, we began coding through the night, bolstered by tons of pizza, beer, coffee, and Red Bull.

Wondering how to run a hackfest? Learn how we were drive team engagement

Twenty-one hours later, the competition was over and the teams began to pitch their products. Each team had 10 minutes to explain and demo their project to the judges, who included Stéphane (CEO), Matt (Head of Product), Nick (VP of Technology), and Brian (VP of Sales). Since the hackers stayed up all night in Paris working, the judges all woke up at 2:00 AM in San Francisco to listen to the pitches.

Work4 hackfest resulted in innovate ideas for social recruiting software

Here is a little recap of what the teams accomplished:

  • Team Hack Vader created a way to measure candidate recruiting engagement.
  • Team Bad Spirit built a tool to explore jobs geographically.
  • Team Big Brother created a video-sharing feature targeted at students.
  • Team Moonlighters created a neighborhood exploration feature.
  • Team Marmots contributed a personality quiz.
  • Team Shorties in the Hood built a feature for use at social recruiting events.
  • Team PLAJA built a gaming application to help candidates complete their Facebook profiles.

The results:

The Public prize (voted on by all participants their favorite team besides their own) went to Hack Vader.

The Full Ambiance prize (for the team with the most entertaining presentation) went to The Marmots.

The Jury prize, based on the completeness of the selected problem, quality of the solution, completeness of the use case, implementation, and presentation, went to Shorties in the Hood.

All in all, the first-ever Work4 Labs Hack Fest was a great success–and a sign of the incredible talent and innovation behind our product. We’re already looking forward to our next one! Congratulations to our Paris office–and our visitors from San Francisco–who made this event such a great success!

The hackathon provided fresh product innovation

*Editor’s Note: A “hack fest” or “hackathon” is a marathon event in which teams of programmers/creatives have 24 hours to brainstorm, code, and create a fully functional piece of software/app based on a given topic or goal

This post was written by Florent Bachelier

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