In the time-honored tradition of the best tech companies around the world, Urban Company conducted Hackathon ’16 last weekend. This day was not a lot different from the others. The tech and product team were bustling with activity (as usual), engrossed in animated discussions about ideas, drawing figures, flow charts and numbers on the white board and mingling with our BD and CX teams. The only difference an onlooker would have realised was the excessive supply of food and that everyone was wearing the same black t-shirt.
The nature of a hackathon is that it gives techies a lot of creative freedom, to do just about anything and do it their own way. Now the thing is, Urban Company gives that freedom anyway. It wasn’t hard for teams to come up with ideas because we are kept very close to product decisions and the kinds of problems that need solving. Maybe that is why, even after the hackathon is over, most of us are still working on our projects and trying to take them to production.
Many of us spent the night in office, coding, getting drunk on coffee, catching power naps, and listening to some very different genres of music. We were treated to some yummy breakfast by our co-founders early morning, who were as excited about the hackathon as we were.
The demos saw some great prototypes from the various teams who participated. From intelligent chat bots who could talk to customers and take their service requests, to great data visualisations for a better understanding of our supply-demand distributions. The energy in the room even after 36 sleepless hours was unmatched for!
The winning team had played with the enormous data points that have been captured in our system and trained a classifier to detect which of our professionals are disengaged. Using that, they created a platform to detect which of our professionals are likely to get disengaged (and why) and gave appropriate action points to avoid that from happening.
This first UC hackathon was pretty thrilling and served as a beginning to some really exciting ideas. We think this is a great start, something that will be a precious part of the culture at Urban Company and go on to become a cherished tradition.