On the 15 and 16 of June, I participated in my first hackathon. It was a hackathon held by Adevinta, the mother company of Leboncoin, the company at which I currently works. We were mixed up for 2 days with people form other marketplaces all across Adevinta, for instance Milanuncios or Kleinanzeigen.
The official goal was to explore the possible usages of Artificial intelligence for the marketplaces, but the real underlying goal was to have the people from the different marketplaces collaborate and build relationships, as the need to work together is pretty new to us. And for that, I think a hackathon was one of the best activity we could’ve been put through. 2 days when everyone is on the same level, interacting with a commonly defined goal. It’s the first time I felt appart from a greater company than before.
Nevertheless, I want to list the key points and lessons I noted during this hackathon. They might be helpful for future hackathon or situations of the same kind, meaning when I, alone or with a team, have to quickly come up with an idea, define it precisely, make an MVP and get it out there/present it to other people.
- Increasing the team size, increase the communication costs. This one is pretty obvious, but it’s always to remember the fact that if you have a product that would supposedly take one developer 1 week to do, by multiplying the number of devs by X, you’re not dividing the time to finish the project by X. Increasing the number of people in a team allows getting different specialities, allows for working parallelly on some tasks, but the first casualty for team growth is a greatly increased communication cost, it creates chaos. There is certainly a perfect number for your team for a given project.
- Split the tasks, and do regular quick catch up sessions. You want to be able to parallelize as many tasks as possible, so identifying together all that can be done by different groups independently is key, then run a quick catch up session every few hours to ensure everyone is moving forward and in the same direction.
- Be extremely clear about the vision, and where you are headed. As everyone come to the hackathon with their own vision and specialties, ideas are going to be fusing around, and if some people/groups work in silo in your team, they might quietly apply their ideas. You obviously want to take advantage of everyone’s creativity and ideas, but unexpected changes in the work done can be really harmful and interfere with your roadmap. So, defining clearly the vision and the scope is key to head in the right direction.
- Identify the single most important feature, focus on it, and maybe if you have extra time work on other features, but reject all the “that would be cool if…” ideas