This Spring, Cogo hosted our own Hackathon with a theme centered around community involvement and collaboration. I talked to one of the organizers of the Hackathon, Julia Bujalski, and a member of the winning Hackathon team, Poorva Napate, to learn more about this year’s Hackathon.

What was the inspiration behind the Spring Hackathon?

Julia: “The inspiration for me was from Kate, an engineer that used to work at Cogo, who organized the Hackathon last summer. I had never previously participated in a Hackathon before, because I thought it was just related to tech, but seeing a designer on my own team at Cogo organize one and make it really inclusive was inspiring to me. I wanted to make sure that her work on the first one lived on and that we could open up the idea of a Hackathon to problem-solving rather than just ‘hacking’ in the engineering sense.”

Suruchi Devanahalli presenting at the closing of the Hackathon

What teams participated and how did they collaborate?

Julia: “We had five different projects and we emphasized collaboration. We really wanted to foster collaboration within the scheduling of events throughout the night of the Hackathon. We had two major ways of enhancing collaboration; we created a Google Doc to look at the ideas prior to the Hackathon and then we had designated mingling time at the beginning of the event. We had elevator pitches for ideas and then people could pick certain teams they wanted to join. People reserved conference rooms and there was a lot of fast delegation and thinking on your feet to find what was in someone’s wheelhouse. This helped us to maximize everyone’s strengths.”

Mark Sinks speaking at the Hackathon presentation

Could you elaborate on some of the projects that came out of the Hackathon?

Julia: “The winning project was a team that made an interactive map of where everyone at Cogo sits titled, ‘Where U At’. This is a super helpful tool since we’re currently scaling and will have this for when new people arrive in the office and need to know where other people sit. The one that I worked on was an interface for Kelly (our Senior HR Business Partner), to add and move around employees to make it easier to adjust the organizational structure as people move around teams. This project benefits her daily work and contributes to the Cogo culture as well.”

Poorva, can you discuss your winning project, “Where U At?”?

Poorva: “The judges of the Hackathon really wanted a project that emphasized accessibility, and with Cogo being such a fast-paced environment, our site allows for anyone at Cogo to type in the name of a person and it will highlight where they sit. We can still sometimes get lost and forget where certain people in our office sit, so this is a useful tool to leverage when looking for someone quickly. It was really cool to win the Hackathon because all of us stayed the night here from Thursday into Friday and just worked right into the next day, which brought everyone together.”

The winning Hackathon team collaborating through the night!

What was the biggest takeaway or learning experience from the Hackathon?

Julia: “The mingling of skillsets in collaboration, but also in teaching people how to do things. You can really maximize skillsets and help people learn how to do things during the overnight Hackathon. Last year, Kate, who organized the Hackathon, taught me how to do style components in React and this year I taught Elliot, an Analyst, how to do style components so now he has a tangible new skill that I learned last year.”

How did your winning team utilize different specialties/skills to create your project?

Poorva: “Our team was definitely the most diverse, with nobody coming from the same team at Cogo. We had an engineering co-op, someone from the web team, account management, business development, and an engineer from our incubating company, Minerva. This year points weren’t given to teams solely based on data and engineering, but rather the functionality of the project and diversity of the team. Everyone on my team really contributed without actually coding the data itself.”

What was the best part of the experience for you?

Poorva: “Winning was definitely the best part, as well as working alongside people who are doing other interesting projects throughout the night. We also had participants from various teams and companies (Link Ventures and Minerva) which really gave you a sense of being part of the big Cogo Labs family.”

For the opportunity to participate in our next Hackathon and become part of the Cogo Labs family, click the link here to check out our open roles!