Hacking our Way to Success for a Second Year at Hack Manchester 2016

    Adam Davis | Software Services Manager

    Let Me Tell You a Bit About Hack Manchester…


    To put it simply, Hack Manchester is a 24 hour coding competition. And yes! That does means 24 hours with no sleep… unless you can find a beanbag to perch on like some of Team RedEye did!

    Teams of four come up with an idea, then within 24 hours they must transform their idea into a working product! It is held at the Museum of Science and Industry every year, forming part of the Manchester Science Festival.

    This year RedEye set out to take on Hack Manchester for the second time in a row. Having won ‘Best in Show’ in 2015 we looked to return to defend our title! If you want to find out a bit more about what we did last year, our CEO Garry Lee wrote a blog about our experience and the positive effect that days like Hack Manchester have on our company and the culture that it promotes.

    Our 2015 Story

    So, How Did We Do This Year?

    Before explaining some of the details behind this year’s event let me start of by saying how we did.

    Following the 24 hour challenge we were all thrilled just to finish it with products we were proud of. But we were ecstatic to find out that two out of our four teams were shortlisted for the Sky Challenge and the Best Company Hack Challenge, and even more delighted to find out that one of our teams had won ‘Best in Show’ for a second year running, making us a first in Hack Manchester History.

    Our Winners

    The Basket Cases – Brandon Conley, Chris Muir and Tim Roe (who missed the photo opportunity!)

    Their winning product was ‘Bleating Baskets’ fulfilling The Co-op Challenge. The team created shopping baskets that talked to each other when they came close together. The idea behind the product was to break the ice between shoppers by having their baskets talk to each other and tell jokes. The baskets could have a number of different conversations, in a variety of regional accents!

    You can watch the video about their product here.

    We Were Invested in Making 2016 Even More Successful

    Internally we began arranging teams and drumming up internal support for the event three months in advance. In 2015 we entered two teams with a total of eight people getting involved. This year we were keen to double our efforts and get even more people from across the business taking part and collaborating on weird and wonderful things.

    After advertising across RedEye that we were planning to return to Hack Manchester for our second year, with our CEO firmly behind the initiative, it did not take long before we had a group of dedicated employees set to take on Hack Manchester 2016. We were able to enter four teams, consisting of 13 people, meaning we could take on even more of the challenges.

    Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

    Hack Manchester’s ability to draw all different types of people together to work as a team is one of its biggest benefits. Within the teams we entered, each team only had one Software Developer, the rest being made up of a mix of Product Owners, Client Services members, Data & Compliance specialists and Business Improvement employees. We always get the best out of these events when we have a mixture of people from different departments, across different offices, all working together on something completely unique. The event was also great at bringing together our three different offices, allowing everyone to work with someone they had never worked with before.

    Once we had decided the teams, it was then up to each team to decide when to meet up and how to plan for the event by brain storming ideas and planning out their time. In addition, we held regular catch ups as a group to help each other and share expertise, with some people offering electronics help, with others coming up with creative ideas, problem solving, and sharing coding knowledge.

    In 2015 we used a mixture of hardware and software to set ourselves apart from the everyday hacks. We used the same approach again this year, returning with Raspberry PI’s, Arduinos’, a variety of electronics, shopping baskets and even a life-sized mannequin.

    Winning was the icing on the cake for us, but we all took away much more, in terms of a great sense of collaboration, team building and skill building!

    And Finally…

    Sound like a company you would like to work for? We are always looking for new talent to join our business to ensure it is continually moving forward. Check out our career opportunities here and join our digital movement!