Here's what happened at the Simply Business 2018 hackathon

Anyone wandering into our London office last week would’ve thought management had left the building and the employees had gone rogue.

But the weird and wonderful things we were working on for two days were all part of our annual hackathon.

Held on 9 and 10 October, this time the theme was ‘Hack to the Future’ – building things that’ll make the future a better place.

About the Simply Business hackathon

We hold a hackathon every year to work on projects outside of our day job. Lots of these projects have an important application to business or society – but some of them are just for fun!

Here are a few examples of our past hackathon projects:

  • A way to map and book our meeting rooms, with visuals showing which ones are free and for how long
  • Working out how to control a drone with a guitar
  • A voice-enabled programme that helps people with disabilities map accessible routes around London

And it’s not just the developers and engineers who take part. Everyone, from recruiters to designers and writers, gets to have a go. It’s a chance for people who don’t usually work with each other to come together and tackle problems and challenges, however big or small.

Hack to the Future

In the run up to the hackathon, we invited speakers to the office to give our teams some inspiration. We welcomed people like James Wallman, best-selling writer and futurist, and Anne-Marie Imafidon, who’s a leading figure in maths and technology.

Then came the pitches themselves. This is the part where everyone hears about the exciting hack ideas people have come up with before deciding which team to join. Some of the best ptiches this year included:

  • Lifecard – tackling the challenge of how to give money to the homeless in a society that’s quickly becoming cashless
  • Ruby Reflexes – a recruitment tool and quiz that helps get the best developers in for an interview
  • #SweetFA – a fundraising and PR campaign designed to send the England amputee football team to the 2018 World Cup in Mexico

Sweet FA Hackathon Team

The #SweetFA hack team pose for a photo

The results

After two days of intense work, what our teams achieved and presented was incredible.

The Lifecard team won Best Hack overall. They managed to come up with a system involving QR codes, which allows members of the public to give to the homeless using their mobile phones. Each person you give to will have a personal profile set up, letting you get to know the person you’re giving to.

The team has won time and money to spend on taking the project further – with potential next steps including setting up a charity and working with big, national organisations. We’re excited to see how it all develops!

Other winners include the Ruby Reflexes team, who won the Best for the Business award, and Simply Bangers. Simply Bangers won Best for Culture – this hack built a way to see and hear employees’ top music artists and tracks.

And we have to give a special mention to #SweetFA, who managed to raise the funds needed to send the England amputee football team to the 2018 World Cup – and got the FA to comment on their lack of support for the England Amputee Football Association in the process.

With each hackathon team planning to continue work on their projects, we think everyone really got into the spirit of Hack to the Future…

What do you think of the projects our teams worked on? Let us know in the comments below.

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