Finalists at Hack Manchester 2015

Hack Manchester is a 24 hour coding competition, where over 300 people come together to solve a range of challenges, set by big industry names. The challenge is to either build something fun or even try to solve some social benefit in and around Manchester. Teams turn up with an idea and just 24 hours later present a working product.

Two teams from Code Computerlove were entered... here's how they got on during the weekend.

Team Average Codes...

Team Average Codes

What did your team achieve?

We got shortlisted for the "Best company team" award!

For our "Uber for volunteering" challenge we created an Android app. The app used charity data, with the users picking from a selection of skills and interests, to receive a suggestion of the best volunteering opportunities for them. Once the user picks an opportunity, the app made it easy to share this information and get in touch with the charity in question. We also made a web-based admin area, where charities could add new opportunities and track which of their opportunities were being selected the most.

What approach did you adopt?

For the back end we used AppHarbor to host our Nancy API, which provided JSON data to be consumed by the Android application. This approach was very helpful, as it meant both the front and back end were not tied together. It also meant that when we came to build the admin area, the API could be reused for accessing the data.

We approached the challenge in an iterative way, to get our MVP and build on it. We did this by following a Kanban style approach. As we knew we would be tired and under pressure, we had hourly stand-ups to help us focus on what was needed and communicate effectively with each other.

The Hack

Hack Manchester Interview

What did you get out of Hack Manchester?

Hack Manchester is always a lot of fun, it's great to see what you can accomplish in just a day.

For us the main learning was... whatever you think the MVP is, it can always be leaner. Get something out there and look for feedback.

It also taught us more about the usefulness of rapid prototyping to validate your ideas. You could spend weeks building a product correctly, only to find out that it isn't going to be of any use to anyone. You can get something out the door as quickly as possible and then go back and refine it if it's viable.

Team Mayhem...

Team Mayhem

What did your team achieve?

We initially went in the competition eyeing the AutoTrader challenge and went out as one of the finalists for the AutoDesk task!

We did a 180° turn and swapped out the challenges within the first hour of the event, as we didn't feel any chemistry towards the police data API. We went for the one we felt was hardest - hacking the 3D Modelling API from AutoDesk.

What approach did you adopt?

The main aim of our project, was to find out what people really mean in their text messages, by visualising them using 3D models. Our MVP was to send an SMS to our app's own phone number, apply sentiment analysis, keyword and entity extraction, through the use of a natural language processing API and then assign a rendering of the SMS, using various 3D models.

The Hack

Hack Manchester Interview

What did you get out of Hack Manchester?

We feel that we went beyond any expectations we had for the event. We managed to get a working product by the end, without any major issues along the way - with spare time to improve a little bit on the overall quality and experience.

It was a great atmosphere to work in, that certainly encouraged us as a team to be really productive. We were happy that we got something to demo by the end, as a couple of teams gave up and left early, but we stuck with it and were named as a finalist for our challenge.

Obviously, one of the biggest challenges is staying awake and being productive in that time. But, the hours flew by - 24 hours isn't actually that long, when you're trying to build something from scratch!

We're looking forward to participating in the next hackathon to represent Code Computerlove.


Code Computerlove at Hack Manchester