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Why a hackathon needs real data...

Hackathon Inspiration, brought to you by Keboola, Deloitte, & Lékárna.cz

Pavel Doležal

Written by
Pavel Doležal

January 10, 2017

For Keboola, our work is our passion. Some consider their career a 9 to 5, escaping the shackles of the office for evening escapism in the form of a beer and a TV screen. The lucky ones know how to blend what they do with what they love. In our digital world, we find true meaning in our work, and others are able to benefit from our passion. There is nothing that enthuses us more than when we are able to see the fruits of our labour, and how our work has practically helped others.

We were slightly surprised, however, when a corporate giant showed itself to share the same ideals as our own. Deloitte consultancy came to us late last year with the idea of hosting a data hackathon. Michal Šusták and Verča Počerová, experts from the Advanced Analytics and Information Management departments of Deloitte, were interested in using data from our client Lékárna.cz to devise a real-life problem for student hackers to solve. This was out of the blue: it is not often that big corporations and such events are a successful mix. We were in for a pleasant surprise.

Over Christmas, in between preparing Czech delicacies and decorating his tree, Filip Trojan took the time to test Keboola Connection to see what he made of it. He was enthusiastic enough to get in touch and tell us that cooperating with us was now top of his Christmas list. Deloitte’s Senior Manager at Advanced Analytics, mirroring the same passion of Keboola? We were thrilled.

We got straight to work.

What dreams are made of: hacks and hops

All parties were excited to bring this to life, and we were ready within a month. Deloitte took charge of the logistics, putting things in place and honing down applicants to the crème de la crème. Many students from University of Economics, Czech Technical University, Charles’ University, and further afield, had applied. From the final twenty-four, eight teams of three each were drawn up.

 At Keboola, we prepared the technical side of the event. Our client, Lékárna.cz, were willing to supply full data and supplied us with the ultimate task. The stage was set for an exceptional event.

 Lékárna.cz’s own Karel Klodner, CEO, and Vladimír Finsterle, founder and owner, were in attendance to provide full context for the participants. They explained in full the company’s ethos and goals and outlined their expectations. The quest was set. Our hackers were given the case, the data, some fuel in the form of food and beer, and they were off. Our client had done well, the energy was palpable.

 The hacking began at 9 am on Saturday. All meeting rooms very quickly bore witness to concentration levels that even Zen monks would have been impressed by. Throughout Saturday, teams only broke concentration to re-energize with snacks or sprints to the bathroom. We had six professionals on site, at the ready to provide a helping hand whenever necessary. It was a long and exhausting day, but undoubtedly an exciting one.

 By Sunday their efforts were coming to fruition. Results were fine-tuned and final presentations were prepared. Deloitte experts were again on hand to ensure that the results were of industry quality.

 Presentations began at 3pm and we were blown away. No teams’ results were identical, each with a different slant on the data. Every one managed to provide scripts in full, with solutions that bore greater similarity to an entire department’s work in a month than the work of three people in two days!

To be continued…

The event was an undisputed success. The talent and motivation of the students, who had sacrificed their entire weekend to the hackathon, reflect the very values that we are proud to uphold at Keboola. Our ability to nourish their talent and passion through the event has reinforced our endeavour to be proactive in the data scene.

And we could not have done it without our partners. Deloitte’s enthusiasm and Lékárna.cz’s level of commitment prove that going the extra mile makes all the difference. Their input nurtured a challenging environment which put the students to task using real, quality data to drive results. Their talent was truly able to shine.

Overall, the students’ level of professionalism was enough to impress any CEO. All of our students have promising careers to look forward to, the recruitment potential was high across the board.

The key factors of its success boil down to:

  1. Support and leadership: The staff from Deloitte put their all into both preparations and the event itself. Their hard work and enthusiasm allowed the participants to perform at their optimum.
  2. Using real data: Thanks to Keboola, Lékárna.cz certainly has a large bank of data at the ready! They showed no reluctance in trusting the participants, providing the relevant data in full.
  3. Solving real problems, providing real solutions:  Lékárna.cz’s commitment to the hackathon does not, unfortunately, reflect every such event. Their presence at the event instilled real enthusiasm throughout the ranks: these students were given authentic issues and were working to provide real results. There may have been a CZK 30,000 prize up for grabs, but the reward that comes with fixing a problem and actually making a difference within a company is priceless.

Their results prove that hackathons have the ability to bring about a creative energy more successful, and more passionate, than hours of sitting at a desk. In the future, we hope that many other companies will be so bold as to take part, either by hosting a hackathon or providing data.

Do you think your business could benefit from a hackathon? Get in touch, and we will be more than happy to help with your data!