Babbel Bytes

Insights from the Babbel engineering team

7th Hackday Review


Wouldn’t it be better, make you stronger, to have your soul in more pieces, I mean, for instance, isn’t seven the most powerfully magical number, wouldn’t seven — ?” (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2005)

At Babbel we work with words. But sometimes numbers are just as important. This year, the number seven was very important, because our seventh Babbel Hackday took place! According to some religions, seven signifies perfection and wholeness, and according to Harry Potter it’s said to be the most powerfully magical number. Thus, hopes were high for participants on our last Hackday, the 7th!

The seventh Babbel Hackday took place on Friday, April 7th, 2017 (isn’t that wonderful?), at Betahaus Berlin. Every six months we organize a Hackday mainly for our engineers, but not exclusively, so a lot of coworkers from other departments participate as well. We had a colleague working remotely from Italy, a team that thought it was a costume party and some new joiners whose very first day at Babbel was a Hackday. New this time was the introduction of a second winning category. Previously, we designated one team for ‘Best Hack’, but since Babbel is a learning company (inside and out), this year we came up with a second category: ‘Make you speak the language like you’ve always wanted to’, which pursues the best learning hack.

7th Babbel Hackday

There were 108 Babbelonians fighting for victory. It’s always interesting seeing how people can spend hours chatting, drinking unlimited tea, coffee and Club Mate, taking outdoor smoke breaks and therefore getting a free work-out (we were on the fourth floor of betahaus’ huge building - that’s a lot of steps), before realizing that the clock is ticking and they actually only have an hour left to finish their project.

At 7PM the hacking was over and everybody had to put their work down. At that point, all other (not-participating) Babbelonians were welcome to attend the presentations and vote. In the ten hours of hacking, participants came up with a record number of 21 projects (that’s 3 x 7, just saying), some of them were presented as a prototype, some as a demo. All of them awesome.

7th Babbel Hackday

Everybody attending could vote for ‘Best Hack’ and ‘Best Learning Hack’. Since there were two categories, we expected to have two different winners - but the outcome was quite a surprise. Apparently we have a real genius working at Babbel: both categories were won by the same person! The first prize winner went home with a brand new GoPro and an Amazon Echo, sponsored by Amazon. Second prize winners for Best Hack went home with a GoPro, and the second prize for the ‘Best Learning Hack’ was an extensive collection of movie-themed cookbooks.

After everybody celebrated the win and congratulated the winners (or quietly wiped away their tears), we left Betahaus for the traditional Berliner Kneipe ‘Schmitz Katze’ to make a toast to the winners and to end the 7th Babbel Hackday.

Later this year we’ll be hosting Babbel Hackday number eight. According to some spiritual sources, it’s the number signifying infinity and everything good in the world.

Check out our open positions to join our next Hackday!

View the video on YouTube.

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