The SendGrid Internal Hackathon!!


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If this were a normal hackathon, I’d start this post by telling you the thirty hackers still at the event at 2:00am sat heads down, faces lit by the glow of their screens, frantically coding and debugging in a rush to finish their hacks. But this wasn’t a normal hackathon, this was the SendGrid Internal Hackathon, and instead hackers jumped on two-hundred feet of bubble wrap.

The SendGrid Internal Hackathon
The SendGrid Internal Hackathon

Thursday and Friday of the last week of June, we held the first SendGrid Internal Hackathon. Technically speaking this wasn’t our first run at a hackathon for the company, but its the first one we treated like the ones we do in the community.

At SendGrid, we attend a bunch of hackathonsover 200 last year, and at these events we see people learning, building new things, and just having fun. We see community members building things for the sake of building things, making things because they wanted to play with a new framework, and creating crazy projects, because, it’s just  fun! We wanted to make sure our employees had a forum at work to do the same.

We invited everybody to come to our headquarters in Boulder, CO, see our new office, and participate in the event. In the end we had 25 people fly in from all our offices, and a few remote locations: Orange County, CA; Providence, RI; Sao Palo, Brazil; and London, England. Many more Coloradans joined from both our Boulder and Denver offices. We even had people hack remotely, with a sizable contingent in Anahiem. In the end, we had 71 people create hacks during the event.

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The event started with demos, as they often do. SendGrid Developer Evangelists demonstrated our friends Twilio and DigitalOcean’s technology in five minute demos. We then opened the floor to pitches– if anyone had a hack they wanted to build and needed help we invited them to talk about the idea in a thirty second pitch.

Anyone could pitch anything. Our goal with this event was to create an authentic hackathon experience and this meant that we couldn’t limit it to just SendGrid-related ideas. People pitched ideas ranging from zany to highly product-focused. Participants then chose what to work on and got started hacking.

People put their heads to work thinking, and hands to work programming and soldering. Soon everyone was pushing code, including product managers and recruiting coordinators. One of our four office kegs was commandeered from the kegerator so it could be hacked on. Everyone was excited, and involved.

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We hacked through the night stopping only for pizza, cookies, and bubble wrap. Some people stayed up all night, while many took cat-naps at the office.

Hacking ended at noon, and after a quick break for lunch we started demoing what we built. Almost the entire company came to watch as we live streamed it to all our offices and remote employees. We watched the demos of twenty completed hacks and several others that didn’t quite make it.

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Once demos were complete our panel of judges set to work to determine winners. This may have been the most difficult part of the event. In fact, there were so many hacks we wanted to recognize that we ended up creating new prizes.

Below, you’ll find links to the SendGrid Hacker League pages of the best hacks from the event:

Overall

  • First PlaceBoulder Splash
  • Second PlaceStarFinder
  • Third Placewasted.us

Most Technical

  • dockerize!
  • Tell Hause (Honorable Mention)

Most Useful for SendGrid

  • SendGrid iOS
  • SendGrid Multi-Factor Authentication (Honorable Mention)

Best Individual Hacker

  • Knowntify

Platform Prizes

  • SendGridJensen Stava
  • TwilioAttenderizer
  • Digital OceanVenn Movies & Snowflake Movies

With demos done and winners chosen we wrapped up the event and went to happy hour feeling proud.


Sound like fun? Want to join us at the next one? We’re hiring! Be part of our awesome culture and help make developers lives easier.


Nick Quinlan is a SendGrid Developer Evangelist based out of San Francisco. He works to make developers lives easier by providing them with the help they need to grow their ideas. Give him a shout, @YayNickQ.

Nick Quinlan on Twitter
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