What are Hackathons?
Lasting anywhere between 24 hrs to a few days, hackathons are events that provide people the opportunity to brainstorm, design and build any exciting idea to life. Known for their excitement and power packed atmosphere, hackathons provide a great platform to bring together creativity, collaboration and innovation. Most hackathons are designed to provide a free-hand to participants, to work with like-minded people and build out pet projects, regardless of the area of application. Some of the most popular hackathon projects have ranged from developing a radio station to ping-pong game optimization! Just practically any idea under the sun.
Hackathons have become very popular today and everyone from startups to large enterprises have started to invest in them. While hackathons are now popular, for several reasons the tech/coding communities still form the majority at such events. And, from the organization standpoint, this isolates the tech teams from the rest of the teams, such as business folks from diverse areas like sales, marketing, operations and support. The lack of a single skill should never be a deterrent in working together to build a solution. Collaboration in its true sense should be able to leverage the strengths of all team members.
How did we do it differently and why?
We wanted to infuse the spirit of universal collaboration in our first hackathon, an attempt to move away from the traditional hackathon format that heavily involved only the tech communities. We wanted to create a unique event where people across departments, cross over formally known boundaries of ‘tech’ and ‘business’ teams, to cross functionally collaborate, build and innovate. At Razorpay, we’ve always believed in a culture of collaborative innovation. Even in our daily work life, we believe that anybody can contribute towards anything if it happens to make work better for everyone (So much so, that we have only public slack channels!) We realised that such an initiative would also be a great way to foster better relations between the tech and business teams, while building some truly unique solutions that impact people, processes and operations in the organization. Hence, our first hackathon – Status 402.
‘By the way do you know why we called it Status 402? HTTP codes feature heavily in what we do; 200 is all OK. 400 is Bad Request. 402 is a special one. It denotes – Payment Required’
Status 402 proved to be a very unique and interesting experience for us. Bringing together the tech and business teams resulted in some truly diverse ideas, many with the potential to impact functions across the length and breadth of the organization. Project ideas ranged from lead visualisation tools for the marketing team to support hacks for the operations team to product feature updates from the tech teams.
We ensured that there were no limits on the number of ideas proposed by any team and anybody could take on any idea to build on. For instance, the sales team could propose several ideas to help with various aspects like lead generation, sales automation etc. And these ideas could then be taken by tech teams that could work in collaboration with the sales team to build out the project. With so many ideas afloat, we decided to introduce a concept called ‘Bounty’. Bounty essentially referred to the importance of the project to the team that proposed it. And, of course, bounty projects also ensured additional goodies if won 🙂
And thus, fully loaded with crates of RedBull cans, we began our very first hackathon – Status- 402, that started at 4.30 pm on 23rd March and went on till 4.30 pm on 24th March. And, what a ride it was! These 24 hours is what it took for us to build out some really cool innovations, tools and product features; basically everything that improved the way we worked as an organization. It also proved to be a great way to collaborate with people outside the team, to interact with and learn from people we do not interact on a daily basis.
Some of the best projects from the hackathon ranged from payment plugins for optimising payment flows to slack ops for marketing optimisation to a data visualizer for merchants (that was interestingly called Pokedex)
A project that is going live soon!
Like we said earlier, we were genuinely thrilled by the sheer range of ideas and projects that emerged from Status 402. An interesting project from the hackathon was ‘Razorpay OAuth’ (developed by Amit Mahbubani, Sumeeti Lalwani & Shashank Kumar). The project is in fact currently being built as an actual product feature and is up for release real soon.
Here is what OAuth is all about –
The need for OAuth rests in the fact that payments form a core part of any business. However, different businesses have different sets of requirements around payment collection, like data analysis, reporting etc. We wanted to build a platform such that a business can use 3rd party tools for these requirements. This is what we are trying to solve with Razorpay OAuth. Through this system, 3rd parties will be able to offer value added services on top of Razorpay’s core infrastructure and businesses on Razorpay will be able to seamlessly grant access to these services as and when required. We believe that creating an ecosystem around payments will be of immense value for everyone and help accelerate digital payments further.
It was not only all work. We ensured that our hackathoners got everything they needed to make it fun – from live food counters to snooze pads.