Our First Company Hackathon – Why We Did – How We Did – What We Learned

About a month back, my co-founder Kirk and I were discussing 3 specific areas within Scan where we felt we could improve,

• Communication

• Execution

• Team “Spring Cleaning” (I’ll explain..)

One of my favorites parts of running a startup has been the opportunity to solve problems and better the team by any creative means we can imagine. In this case, I came up with the idea of having a hackathon, specifically tailored to improving our team in the 3 areas mentioned above. We called it, “SHIP IT – Cinco de Mayo”. (ps. My mom asked me what a “hackathon was. Basically it’s like a marathon but with a little more sweat and tears)

Communication – We founded Scan in Utah back in early 2011. In January 2012 we made the move to San Francisco. With a couple of team members still yet to make the move, we have been split across the two states. Thus, our first plan for SHIP IT was to fly everyone to Scan HQ, San Francisco.

Execution – In our first year we created a website for created QR code mobile experiences and the mobile apps to scan them. We grew our user base to over 10 million users. But that was year 1 and we of course want to make year 2 that much better. Most hackathons I’ve participated in have teams or individuals break off and build their own projects. SHIP IT was structured differently. We purposely planned 1 project that would require the unified work of the entire team front to back beginning to end. At best, we would build something incredible. At worst (but still quite good for the company), we would expose holes and bottle necks from the company and “clean them out”.

Team “Spring Cleaning” – I love my team. I see how hard they work and how much passion they put behind their efforts. In contrast, it really digs me when someone does not give it their all, does not deliver, or treats Scan like a job. I have personally experienced the strength behind a pure and united team of skills and passion. Pure united teams make life better, the journey more enjoyable, the hard times more bearable, and lead to ultimate joy and success. We flew in many potential candidates to participate in our hackathon. I was quite open about my intentions to “hire some people and fire some people”.

Lastly, we tried to make the event a special experience for all involved. We invited investors, media, and other close friends of Scan to come enjoy. Kris did a fantastic job of decorating, filling the fridge, and even hired a chef and massage therapist for the day.

The product we decided to build was Scan-to-gram, a fun “quirky” new way for businesses and groups to grow their Instagram followings on the web using Scan QR code technology. After a couple days of united pounded work, we finished and more importantly SHIPPED the site live, http://scantogram.com.

WHY : As shown in the image below, I had noticed a trend of businesses, teams, and other groups promoting their Instagram accounts by creating similar collages saying, “Follow the entire team!”. I thought it was cool but it was far too tedious to type each name, search, and then finally follow each one by one. Ever since I added Instagram my personal Scan Page my following has quickly increased. It just made sense to make a “group Instagram collage” that was interactive and instantaneous. Thus, Scan-to-gram.

This is a good example of a bad example : ) It was collages like this that inspired Scan-to-gram.

On Scan-to-gram, following new accounts is as simple as hovering over their image with your mouse which then reveals a QR code. Simply scan and voila! Try it out.

All in all, SHIP IT – Cinco de Mayo was a definite success. Following are just some fun pics from the weekend. Enjoi.

We used the event as an opportunity to release our new company T-shirts. In Utah we were “Made in Provo”. Now we are “Scan Francisco”.

Kris was sweetness and put together gift bags for all participants.

I’m a religiously big fan of the movie, “The Social Network”. I took their “wired in” motto to heart and had custom “WIRED IN” signs manufactured for the team.

Kirk. Dustin. Adam.

Heather. Jiovan.

Zander and Caleb had the coolest work space of all. The large glass wall works perfect as a white-board for mapping.

So..Thor is basically a Zander wannabe. Either way, they have the same hammer. Just might be the same person as well.

The hackathon was fueled by amazing healthy foods and drinks. So boring right? #proudly

Homemade taco line. Kirk and Kris.

The Scan dev team.. ..and Jiovan ; )

Kirk. Jiovan. Ben. Adam.

The amazing massage therapist – Amanda.

Ben and Porter (I gave my girl bike a boyish name).

About 42 hrs in.. ..people just started passing out. Kris. Landon.

This is where our fixies (Porter and Bailey) hang out.

Jiovan. Kris. Pretty sure they are texting each other.

The Van Buskirk twins. Not really twins but they kind of act like it. #finisheachotherssentences

Mike and the #scanwives

So Heather made this gorgeous balloon for decor.. At least it started as decor. Throughout the event it slowly started to die to the floor. It eventually became our “sand in an hourglass” to mark the ending of our hackathon.

Here’s Kirk, Caleb, and Thor busting out the final steps late into the night moments before the live demo/launch/SHIP!

iOS expert and fanboy, Shannon. Cool hoodie.

Jiovan : WIRED IN.

SHIP IT – Cinco de Mayo ended with each participant individually presenting what they personally worked on and SHIPPED.

…and of course, as should every event where great individuals join together to achieve something magnificent, we had our “Oceans 11 moment”.

Thank you and thank you. To my team, I love you. To those not part of my team, http://scan.me/jobs.



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