This year I participated in the “Edmunds Disrupt Hackathon” (Winter 2019), and I was surprised when my team came in third out of twenty competing teams.

There were a lot of amazing projects that came out of the Hackathon, and we had some fierce competition.

The winners who came in place in first was a team primarily from the data science team, and based on what they had – it was no surprise they won.

The Original idea

Edmunds HQ announced the Hackathon, and I signed up with the idea of creating a simple feedback service that could be injected into any of the existing Edmunds products that could benefit from it.

The team I work on at Edmunds for my day job is the CarCodeSMS team. We had thought about adding a simple feedback form to gauge the user experience for Chat and SMS conversations.

Fun fact: CarCodeSMS was a hackathon winner in 2015 for Edmunds’ Hackomotive event.

I quickly threw together some notes and began looking for a team to collaborate.

Pivoting

After reaching out to multiple people, in hopes of forming a team, I realized many people had ideas but no coders. I was a coder with an Idea looking for a team.

The week before the Hackathon was to commence I found that someone on our team had already implemented the feature into our product.

Although it may have still been fun, there was no point in hacking away in something that had already done.

A co-worker of mine mentioned an idea for searching YouTube for Edmunds related videos and including this in our search results. I had some experience with building something similar to the YouTube API, so I switched to his team. Pivoting again The weekend before the Hackathon, one of my good friends and co-worker at the time Rich, had just given his notice that he was leaving the company. The Hackathon was going to be his last contribution to Edmunds. He asked if I would join him, and though I was already on a team – I felt I had to join him and help him bring his vision to life. I spoke to the YouTube API team, and they understood. So that I didn’t just leave without contributing anything, I provided the back-end code to fetch the data from the Edmunds YouTube channel which meant the only thing left to do was the front-end code and design.

Dream Team

The Hackathon started on Monday, Feb 4th at 10:30 am.

We formed a team of Three with Allan V. Rich H. and me.

The idea that we came up with was building a chrome extension which was specifically designed to work with all the Edmunds internal products for use with debugging and testing.

I immediately saw the value in this, and we got to work.

By Tuesday, Feb 5th at 5:30 pm we wrapped up not only a majority of the code but also the Slide deck for the pitch.

The Winners’ Circle

20 teams took part in the Hackathon. The judges randomized the teams for presenting the project and gave each team 5 minutes. We were 8th in the list.

The first few presentations we thought to ourselves “We may win this,” but as more and more teams presented, I almost began to lose hope. We broke for lunch to let the judges decide.

When we came back, the judges announced the winners.

The MC started with honorable mentions.

Then placement announcements followed. Our team was on that list.

The Grand Prize was $4000, and third place, which was us, received $2000.

We split the winnings among ourselves and shared our code with anyone interested in contributing.

I look forward to participating in many more hackathons, not only at work but also where ever I get a chance.