Two to three times a year, we organize hackathons at Dashlane. These are fun and creative events where teams mix up to work on small projects of their choice.
Unfortunately, fun isn’t a good enough reason to divert time and resources away from our core business goals, so hackathons need to provide some long-term value. Our hackathons at Dashlane should:
- Reinforce our company values and culture
- Encourage exploration of new ideas and novel solutions to our users’ problems
- Give employees an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues outside of their day-to-day teams (when your company has offices in three countries this becomes very important!)
- Offer a low-pressure setting to practice working cross-departmentally on a tight deadline
Above all else, hackathons are good for our users. Nearly every hackathon has resulted in improved functionality and user experience for Free, Premium, and Business accounts. Recently, we shipped a feature to import credit card information through NFC on Android that was built during one of our hackathons. Other innovative concepts that were prototyped have been submitted for patent in the U.S.!
Our Hackathon Structure
Our hackathon structure is always evolving, but after lots of tinkering, we have a good idea of what works best for us. At Dashlane, each hackathon is one or two days of highly focused work organized around one of these themes:
- Innovation: The goal here is to explore prototypes or new concepts for Dashlane. There is no objective to ship these projects.
- Express: The objective for Express Days is to build small features or product enhancements in one day, so they can get into the next Dashlane release.
- Support: The goal on Support Days is to develop features that help our Customer Service team, or develop product additions that allow our users to get better support. This can range from adding content to our help center to people contributing to answering user tickets to much more!
Every hackathon starts with a brainstorm for the whole company where we imagine concepts and suggest ideas for projects. People will then start to team up. Usually, teams will be three to six people, from any department (engineering, product, marketing, people, ops, etc.).
At the end of the event, all the teams will demo their projects in front of the whole company. Then we vote for the best project and award the Dashlane Cup to the winning team!
What’s Next for Dashlane Hackathons
Hackathons are a core part of the Dashlane life. They allow teams to break out of their normal routines. People get to work with different people, on other types of topics. And it provides another avenue for everyone to express their creativity.
While we are happy with the current results, we want to keep iterating around the concepts of hackathons. Because it’s traditionally more of an engineering activity, one of our biggest challenges has been to encourage more Dashlaners outside of product and engineering to participate. There is still work to be done, but recently we have had ideas in marketing (creating new onboarding flows for web users), office management (setting up an “office life” dashboard in the Paris kitchen), and employer branding (branded eco-cups that we can give away at event in our offices) come to life!
Have best practices for hackathons you want to share? Comment below!
Want to be part of our next hackathon? Check out our careers page, we’re hiring!