Backbase 2015 Hackathon

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and last Saturday marked the end of the very first Backbase Hackathon. The projects presented during an exhausting, yet rewarding weekend exceeded our expectations, and we have been amazed by the great results!

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The 1st Backbase Hackathon edition has been a huge success. We turned our crazy, cool and innovative ideas into real ideas, and we’re extremely thankful to the almost 50 participants from Backbase and our partners Levi9, GeckoSolutions, JetBrains and ITgma. Thank you so much, everybody, on the Backbase team who worked hard to organize the event, and to all of those who didn’t make it to our office. We hope we see you next time!

So, what was the experience like for the hackers? Here are a few quotes from the weekend.

Sara from Exodus 5:7 – This first Backbase Hackathon was amazing! We had the chance to be creative and work out-of-the-box. My team worked with 3D printers and electronics. I completed the project with the concept behind the product and an interface design for toddlers. It was challenging, very well organised and extremely fun. Can’t wait for next year!

Gui from Ocho team – I loved the Hackathon. It was fun, there was a good atmosphere, and it was really well-organised.

Marco from Exodus 5:7 – Hacking away during this weekend was a lot of fun. The great organization made sure that the only thing we had to worry about was coding away! Grub and caffeinated drinks were always within arm’s reach. I liked many of the other demos – there were a lot of very cool ideas, and the competition was fierce!

Dmitry from Happy Tree Friends – This is first time I participated in the Hackathon, and it was a great experience. We got our idea just an evening before, and with great spirit and unbelievable teamwork, we got the prize for second place! Organisation was of a high level, such as preparation, venue, food, awards – everything was just great. There was an incredible atmosphere during the whole event. It was all about collaboration, competition, fun, beer and nuts! Many, many thanks for all who made this Hackathon happen, and thanks to all the teams for amazing demos and inspiration. I’m looking forward to the next Hackathon, so see you there!

Fernando, Nostromo team – Combining enterprise/internet cultures and mixing them with our great crew of professionals made it the perfect recipe to succeed on this first attempt, which has offered real proof of how far we push our ideas at Backbase. Really looking forward to being involved in the next one, which is hopefully soon!

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Fast facts

  • We were hacking for a total of 26 hours
  • Each demo took 10 minutes, including Q&A sessions for judges.
  • We had 45 hackers, 15 teams based in 6 different locations (Amsterdam, Atlanta, NYC, Skopje, Belgrade, Kiev).
  • We organized a dinner in the office. We had tons of Red Bulls available during one sleepless night (OK, we had several naps).
  • We could see our hackers non-stop on huge screens in the office, and watch them from home thanks to live streaming sessions.
  • Apart from coding, we were singing and dancing, and we had one pirate in the office!

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We measured hack ideas with the following criteria:

  • Wow factor – does your product make the judges go ‘Wow!’?
  • Impact – does it solve a real problem for millions of people?
  • Innovation – is it completely new to the market?
  • Feasibility – could it be ‘productized’ easily?

We had the following winner categories:

  • Grand Winner of the Backbase 2015 Hackathon – Wow factor, impact, innovation, feasibility.
  • Lesser-but-just-short-of-Grand Winner – Great accomplishment, very impressive, but still short of that one overwhelming sparkle.
  • Fireworks Factor – Very creative, out-of-the-box, not very feasible, but still impressive.
  • Pink Panther – Murphy’s Law, great commitment but not able to execute because of bad luck.
  • Circus Act – High entertainment value!

Last but not least were the prizes

Apart from eternal glory after winning the 1st Backbase Hackathon ever, there were some amazing prizes for the winning teams. The Grand Winner of the Backbase 2015 Hackathon returned home with €2,500. We also had €500 awards for the Lesser-but-just-short-of-Grand-Winner category, iPad and vouchers for dinner, and concerts for the Fireworks Factor category. Pink Panther was awarded with a JetBrains licence and Circus Act with vouchers for concerts and dinner.

1st edition of our Hackathon concludes with four winning projects

The top Hackers were Exodus 5:7 (Sara V, Erik B, Erwin S, and Marco S). The Exodus 5:7 team worked with 3D printers and electronics. They completed the project with the concept behind the product and an interface design for toddlers. They believe that banking isn’t easy. Everyone keeps focusing on simplifying screens, but the truth is that most people struggle understanding the complexity of the products and services offered by a common bank. They think that the key point to moving the industry forwards is to work on engaging and educating people to get a safer and healthier financial life, and they’re starting with the little ones.

On this 1st Backbase Hackathon, they had 3D-printed a piggy bank that counts the coins as they fall in. This information is registered and sent to the online banking platform that displays a real-time actual balance. Together with this, they created a special (and extremely simplified) interface designed for kids, to begin understanding simple concepts such as having to wait to get something you want. This is a first peak at a new way in which banks can engage with their customers.

Happy Tree Friends (Ben S, Marcin Z, Dmitry S, and Oriol T) won in the Lesser-but-just-short-of-Grand-Winner category. The goal of Happy Tree Friend’s project was to encourage cross-departmental collaboration at Backbase. They added gamification to pull-requests, and created a dashboard of rich visualisations for the game. For each pull request, a developer gets one point, but in order to encourage cross-team pull requests, if the request comes from another team then the developer gets a bonus 10 points. Management can also decide on a set of featured repositories, where contributors get double points. At the end of each month, the developer with the most points wins. Developers can also become king of a repository if they have the most contributions, and be awarded badges when they unlock different achievements.

The goal of El Corteso project (José C), who won in the Firworks Factor category, was to create a plug-able module for the Backbase Android library to enable Backbase powered mobile apps be able to communicate with Android smart watches apps. For this purpose, Jose created a smart watch app with two functionalities: Display banking information from the mobile app, and allow the user to find the closest ATM. The smart watch app was connected to a mobile device and communicating with the Backbase empowered app.

Augmented Reality won in the Pink Panther category.  Maksym S was inspired by exciting Backbase products. Especially its ability to deliver right content to the right people at the right time. We tried to take that experience offline to let Backbase customers to serve their clients better.

Backbase is about delivering quality software that makes us proud and our customers happy. And since we want to work hard and have fun together at the same time, we will be back with the next Backbase Hackathon edition in the future, to come up with new ideas to boost business! We want to be disruptive in the market, so we will hack the financial system again! See you in the next edition!

Justyna Adamczyk
IT Recruiter & Talent Sourcer
HR professional with over 7 years of progressing experience in fast-paced HR departments. Experience in a startup organization that have undergone significant growth in the last few years. Extensive background in sourcing and recruiting top tech talent across multiple countries in a highly competitive market. Currently in Amsterdam working at Backbase as a tech recruiter and talent sourcer.

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