Innovation, community, and fun: why the annual hackathon is our most successful internal event

In 2012 Bonial started a new tradition: our annual hackathon. For those not familiar with the concept, a hackathon is an event where various teams collaborate intensively on an IT project. For Bonial, it became more than that. It is the perfect opportunity for individuals to team up with other people they usually do not interact with and work on exciting projects. It is an actual social event where people collaborate, exchange ideas, eat junk food, and drink drinks for three days.

With 2020 being a challenging year, we postponed our hackathon to this year. It was the first time the event was entirely online, so the social part had to be well thought through. In previous editions, participants were all over the office, visiting other teams, having some drinks or pizza. This year, each participant got a package with delicious goodies to enjoy while hacking at home. 

The whole idea behind this event is to bring people together, engage our employees, and of course, discover new fresh ideas that can help us innovate not only our business but also our internal processes. In fact, one of the features that we introduced in our app last year, cashback, was a project that came out from a hackathon. There was already an idea circulating among the leadership, so one of the teams worked on this idea and implemented it into what you can see in our app today.

Throughout the event, there were many activities planned: meditation sessions, stretching workshops, virtual coffee breaks, photo contests for the nerdiest picture, the best meme, or the best team spirit. At the end of the last day took place the traditional marketplace where each team could do demos, explain their project, and answer questions from the audience. Of course, the marketplace was digital, and the advantage was that teams could record the presentations for those who did not have time to visit all the projects. 

For this edition, there were a total of 80 participants working on 24 projects. These projects were divided into five categories, and these are the winners:

  • The Bonial Award: this award was chosen by popular vote.
    • Winner: English KaufDA (ShopThere)
  • PSB Award: PSB stands for Product and Strategy Board; this award goes to the project which is found strategically great and can make our product better.
    • Winner: Make our users an offer they can’t refuse!
  • Tech Innovation Award: this award goes to the project that brightens how we are engineering our product. 
    • Winner: Long-term storage for Prometheus!
  • Social Award: as COVID19 affects everyone’s social life and shapes the way we are socializing; this award goes to the project which improves our social life in the company. We expect the winning project to improve our office and work culture.
    • Winner: Bonial Social!
  • Kaizen Award: Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency. From this category, we expect the winning project improves process and productivity in Bonial.
    • Winner: Awesome PDF processing tool!

There will be several follow-up discussions about each projects’ feasibility and possible ways to implement some of them. This hackathon was a welcome break from the daily home office routine we’ve established during the Pandemic. Participants did not only welcome the break but also felt refreshed and more motivated to tackle new challenges. 

In conclusion, a hackathon is not just an event to gather people around computers and food. It is the perfect tool to engage employees with the business, help them feel heard, and prompt new ideas in an open environment for discussion and exchange. It was also a moment to see people from various departments, skills, and ideas working together on the same project. And most of all, it was fantastic to see employees being creative and bringing innovation to the next level. Success!






This article was written by Victor Boscatt, a Employer Branding Manager at Bonial.