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Hackers explain what a Hackathon is all about…


There’s been a lot of talk around the upcoming Tanda Hackathon, so I thought I’d catch up with a few of last year’s hackers. If you’re wondering what a Hackathon is all about, our CTO, Alex Ghiculescu recently shared his view on the topic. In short, it’s a day for designers/developers of all skill levels to produce something awesome together and claim victory.

Last year’s Tanda Hackathon had a focus on Open Data where Tanda supplied real, but anonymised data from our customers. This year, we’ve decided to do things a little bit differently and coincide the official launch of our public API with the Hackathon next month. Elliot Smith, from the 2015 winning team ‘Two Weeks Notice’, said…

“The Tanda Hackathon was a fun, friendly competition over an interesting dataset. It was great to see all the different solutions that came out of the same set of data. I’m looking forward to defending my title at this year’s event”.

How awesome will this year be?

At the time of writing this article, we’ve sold over 80 100 tickets! That’s double the size of the attendance from last year’s event and there’s still 5 weeks to go. This will beBrisbane’s largest Hackathon, maybe the world’s. We’ve also attracted support from TechnologyOne, Indoor Skydive Australia Group and DigitalOcean for judging and prizes.

Corporate companies often host hackathons as a means of ticking a box for being ‘innovative’, but hacking is truly at the core of what we do here in the product team at Tanda. We only spend 25% of our time fixing bugs, leaving a huge 75% to think, design and build new and exciting features for our customers, or for ourselves internally.  This event has become our way of promoting this philosophy of building awesome things, and fast.

As an attendee, you’ll….
   –   Be exposed to real world problemsImprove your skills
      Meet like-minded people
      Get a taste of what it’s like to build something innovative
   –   Empty our keg of beer on Friday night

In the words of a past attendee…

Last week, I sat down with Jun Ling, who was an attendee at last year’s event and talked all things Hackathons. Read on for a recap of the good bits…

Can you explain how the Tanda Hackathon works?
The idea of a hackathon is to get a team together and try to build something cool within a short timeframe. Last year’s Tanda hackathon was run across two days. On the first evening everyone showed up, grabbed a drink and a bite and took some time to meet other participants and the Tanda team. We were given a brief rundown on the data we were being provided with and prompted with some example project ideas.

Some people walk into a hackathon with a rough idea of what they want to be working on over the weekend; others just drop by and think something up on the spot. After taking some time to socialise and solidify project ideas, pitching started. The initial pitches were a concise – think one or two minutes – summary of an idea or project that people wanted to work on. Pitchers started by talking a bit about themselves, their idea and the sorts of skill sets they were looking for to form their team. After pitching, groups formed organically around popular ideas. Some teams started working on their project that night, others waited until day two.

The second day started early; we got a feed then jumped straight to work. The first couple of hours in the morning were spent doing some final planning, then the rest of the day was spent hacking. Tanda devs and other mentors were around to bounce ideas off and drop suggestions; it was a great collaborative working atmosphere. At the end of the day teams got up to make their final pitch in front of a panel of judges.

What made you consider coming along to the hackathon?
At the time I was a student at UQ, working on a data visualisation project for a research lab. The theme of last year’s event was `open-data`, so that got my immediate attention. My supervisor Mitch actually mentioned the hackathon to me and encouraged me to go along. I’d never been to a hackathon or startup weekend before so I was a bit apprehensive at first, but in the end I had a great time and it was a fantastic experience.

What did you learn from the experience?
For a start, I hadn’t even realised there was such an active, budding start-up scene in Brisbane prior to the event. The second day of the event was held at River City Labs, a co-working space purpose built for growing small tech start-ups.  Like I mentioned, it was my first hackathon and the whole process of going from a small idea to something tangible enough to sell to a panel of judges over a day and a half was new to me. As a bonus, I got to work with some very cool people and picked up a bit about statistics from team mates working on our project.

Don’t want to miss out on all the action?

Tickets are selling out fast, so make sure to get your ticket ASAP from