Yieldr  —  Hackday/0x01

At Yieldr, we value innovation and foster an environment where new ideas are not only welcomed but celebrated. Around here, we tell everyone, Don’t Be a Monkey.

Instead of following the status quo and doing things a certain way because they’ve always been done that way, we challenge our habits and thinking to adapt and evolve to our ever-changing industry.

With this being ingrained in our culture, it was natural for us — and long overdue — to hold our first Hackday. We loved the idea so much we actually took two days for the engineering team to suggest, work on and finally demonstrate their unique ideas to the entire company.

 

Planning

For the event we looked for an external venue. We wanted to provide the inspiration that such a project deserves and make sure it didn’t feel like just another day at the office.

We threw ideas on a Google doc and shared it with the team. Soon enough we had about 20–30 ideas which we could potentially work on during the event. It was incredibly satisfying to see the engagement from the team while sharing their ideas! We went through these ideas, refined them a little, and finally, grouped them into themes so we could narrow down the scope. We wanted it to be broad enough for everyone to participate and at the same time narrow enough so that it can be completed within the timeframe.

On a Thursday afternoon, everybody from the engineering team was talking about the ideas that were being narrowed down a few days before the event. Groups of people were naturally forming according to interests, motivations and a willingness to explore new technologies. You could really feel the energy and anticipation building!

The ideas were flowing like water from Niagara Falls. What started out as a few words quickly became a cascade of themes and concepts.

Once we narrowed down our focus, the teams started to investigate how to tackle the problems. We finally had everything ready: the data was ready to be used, the location was in place, food was arranged, t-shirts were printed and delivered — every piece of the puzzle was falling into the right place for a kick-ass two days of fun and innovation.

 

Execution

It was finally Christmas morning for us! For the first day of the event, we arrived at an inspiring location in the center of Amsterdam. After a few shots of ginger and lemon juice and with the right music on, the adrenaline started kicking; it was go time!

Everybody was completely locked in and entrenched in what they were doing, especially when ambiguous ideas started to take tangible form.

"Niiceee!!”

“Awesome, man!”

“YES it works!!!”

These were only a few of the words spoken that personified the vibe of our Hackday. The atmosphere that had been created was exactly what all of us wanted.

Time was passing by, the code was assuming some sort of shape, people were getting more and more excited and, most of all, the fun was palpable.

At some point, people started walking around and checking out what other teams were producing with just a few hours of coding. The incredible fact that everyone was sharing ideas with the others was already a clear sign of success.

Yes, creating something and presenting it to everyone is indeed the point of a hackday, but the most successful part was the engagement that every person had with each other. Sharing ideas, debating on technologies and helping others with their problems were the best part of this event. The hackday took our already close-knit team and strengthened our bond even further.

At the end of the second day, all the teams had to prepare a presentation in which they showed off their shiny new ideas. We had a simple rule: 20 minutes at most to present and have a Q&A. Funny fact about this rule: people were so enthusiastic about all the projects that each team were presenting for 10 minutes and having 25 minutes of questions. Hell of a good sign, isn’t it?

The whole company got involved and us — as engineers — seeing that what we produced was creating so much interest was definitely the best reward we could ever expect.

 

Results

The projects that we produced were focused on Machine Learning and Data Visualization. From Real-Time maps to Sentiment Analysis.

Here are the projects briefly explained:

  • Problesis. A demand forecasting algorithm in which the team combined a novel-approach for estimating the demand by combining different sources.

A little preview of the result of the demand forecast approach.

  • Real-Time: A real time map for ticket conversions.

So many conversions!!!

  • Sentiment Analysis: A sentimental analysis on social media data to measure/forecast the influence on an airline at the micro/macro level.

Something bad happened on those two days!

  • Traveler Lifetime Value: A tool that helps to identify specific consumers based on their value.
  • Mobile App: A simplified version called DIfA. Demand intelligence for Android.

There was no winning team because the whole engineering team won!


This article was originally published on Medium.

Davide Berdin

Davide Berdin

Software Engineer at Yieldr