Babbel Bytes

Insights from the Babbel engineering team

The 2nd Babbel Hackday - our review


Hack days, hackathons or hackfests are done frequently in IT-companies to bring together engineers, designers and product owners in a playful spirit. The second Babbel Hackday took place on October 24th, 2014 at St. Oberholz – a typical Berlin-Mitte bar we thought…

2nd Babbel Hackday

…well St. Oberholz is not only a bar, but also a co-working space with apartments that can be rented for special events. Two of their apartments served as our hack day venue. These were fully equipped with beds, chairs and everything – including a kitchen. We occupied the whole place and organised food and drinks for just over sixty people. St. Oberholz also added some folding tables and additional chairs for our convenience.

But it wasn’t about eating and drinking in a cozy location. It was still a hack day, where we wanted to create great projects. We had 17 teams of different sizes working on 17 different projects. For this hack day we decided to include other Babbel departments as well. In the end we had multi-disciplined teams with engineers, designers, UX researchers as well as product, didactics and marketing specialists.

We started working at 10.00 a.m. and came together for the final presentation at 8 p.m. The presentations had to be completed without speaking. This helped us to focus on the actual work results and it felt like sitting in a video art performance because there were no presenters at all, just the slides and music. The teams presented mock-ups as well as functional applications for mobile and web. Afterwards the participants voted for their favourites. The winning team was awarded two jumbo boxes (6 kg) of Lego and every participant received a Babbel Hackday 2.0 T-shirt.

2nd Babbel Hackday T-shirts

A lot of impressive results were presented and although we can’t go into much detail about the individual projects, two of them made it actually into the product backlog and another project is now part of our daily communication in stand-ups and team meetings.

We do have to admit, that not everything went as it was supposed to be. For the next hack day we have to solve some issues like the internet connection. The Wi-Fi had hiccups but we managed to solve this after lunch, where we had huge and delicious pizzas. After the help of the St. Oberholz team nothing could stop us.

We always complete a hack day with a survey. The results from this will be used to improve our planning and organization and make the next hack day even more exciting. Three is a magic number and the third Babbel Hackday is planned for April 2015. We are currently looking for another awesome spot in Berlin to host us and we’ll keep you posted about it.

View the video of our second hack day on YouTube.

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