Urjanet’s Inaugural Hackathon
On March 28th, Urjanet CTO Michael Pridemore charged the company with a challenge we had heretofore yet to face: a hackathon. Within 24 hours, teams of two to five employees were to create a product, feature, or internal tool that would make Urjanet a better company. The prize? Cold hard bitcoin (or cash equivalent) and a trophy the likes of which the world had never seen.
The Winning Team
Let’s take a look at what the winning team came up with. Comprised of senior director of software development Shanker Janakiraman, engineering director Todd Rose, data analyst Molly O’Neil, and interns Ankit Verma and Yuli Liu, the winning team, or “404 Found” as they came to be known, took home the grand prize for their revolutionary tool.
While we can’t disclose the full details of this top-secret creation, we can tell you that it utilizes machine learning to turn a tedious internal process into a smooth one. The tool, once completed and scaled, will save Urjanet employees an immeasurable amount of time and resources, thereby giving them more time to focus on their customers.
The team stayed up all night to prototype two different algorithms, both yielding high success. Ultimately, 404 Found was praised not only for the innovation behind their idea, but also their execution. Out of the eight competing teams, 404 Found’s tool was among the most polished and functional in implementation.
“No matter where they may go to work later on in their careers, they’ll always remember being a part of this Hackathon.”
Mike Pridemore, for one, was happy to see that interns had participated on the winning team. “No matter where they may go to work later on in their careers, they’ll always remember being a part of this Hackathon,” he mused.
It must be noted: This was no ordinary trophy that Urjanetters were competing for. This is a trophy shaped like a unicorn. Mike had used an image of a unicorn in a presentation over a year ago to illustrate the idea of nebulous technologies that people assume will magically solve every problem. After it was heralded office-wide as Mike’s trademark, he decided to use it as the inspiration for the hackathon prize.
Somehow, no one was selling unicorn trophies on Amazon, so Mike went old school and bought a brass unicorn off of eBay and took it to a trophy shop to be mounted. Henceforth, the winners of each hackathon will have their names engraved on said unicorn in everlasting remembrance of their feat.
The Origins of the Hackathon
So, how did this famed hackathon come to be? Mike and the rest of the executive team wanted to inspire innovation by encouraging Urjanetters to work on something completely different from what they work on everyday.
Engineers, for instance, can sometimes develop tunnel vision into engineering; hackathons like this push them to stop and think about a marketing or sales perspective. The hackathon also meant to encourage more cross-department collaboration, requiring people to work with colleagues from different departments, and gently pushing them out of their comfort zones. And of course, the hackathon was for fun.
In the future, Mike hopes to expand upcoming hackathons to include the Chennai branch, as well as focus on various themes. His goal is to hold a hackathon once a quarter. One thing is certain: we haven’t seen the last of Urjanet’s taste for hacking.
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About Amy Hou
Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.