Friday December 2nd, 2016

Sometimes it’s totally worth working the weekend

Emma-Sofie Kukkonen

Emma-Sofie Kukkonen

Olli Hämäläinen

Olli Hämäläinen

Ultrahack 2016

Hackathons are simply everywhere at the moment, especially here in Helsinki. Everyone, including from the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office to heavy industries seem to want their fair share of the new way of creating open innovations together with start-ups, students and other creative minds. Hackathons are today’s channel for outsourcing innovations for big corporations and those who are continuously seeking ways to maintain their businesses with the help of start-ups.

When we received an invitation to join as UX mentors at UltraHack, a hackathon organised the weekend before the famous tech-head event Slush, we did not hesitate. We ended up enjoying ourselves quite a bit, and we want to share why you, too, should consider attending a hackathon. We think there are many reasons to attend a hackathon but here are our top four:

1. Inspiration

There is no better way to get inspired than to see how start-ups and start-up minded people solve problems. We simply love how people with different backgrounds, education, passion or experience, gather together and work to reach a common goal. Surrounding yourself with such enthusiasm is infectious, and will give you a fresh state of mind in whatever you are looking to do next.

2. Learning

We are curious people who seek to learn new things, and the best learnings happen when you are in the middle of something new! Hackathons are a great way to immerse yourself in what’s new in the tech field within one weekend, as you learn about new technologies from the interesting and talented people around you. It’s an easy pitfall to think of innovation as being only ‘drones and wearables’. However seeing all the different things people are doing at Ultrahack, both big and small, will certainly give you insights you can utilise later.

3. Getting it done

The limited amount of time in hackathons creates an interesting and unique setting in many ways. Us designers are used to working on projects that contain certain phases that for sure take more than 48 hours, right? During the Ultrahack weekend we advised the teams about how to involve end-users, how to brainstorm effectively, and about quick and dirty prototyping, and how to do all this within 48 hours! This requirement for fast-pace thinking means that you must learn new efficient methods for creating different solutions, many of which have become our go-to methods when we are short on time.

4. Happiness

Attending a hackathon, even as a mentor, is a demanding task, both physically and mentally. However, getting to see the great people this scene has, and witnessing them create solutions so refined in such a restricted time, makes it worthwhile. We certainly left the weekend tired but with a smile on our faces.

Having had such a great weekend, we are hungry for more and we would be happy to join your event too. So ping us if you feel like having someone mentoring your hackathon teams in fullstack design.

Attending Ultrahack 2016 as mentors were Emma-Sofie Kukkonen who is a Service Designer with a passion for problem solving, based in our Helsinki office, and Olli Hämäläinen who is one of our UX experts based in the Leadin office in Tampere, Finland.