What do you get when you put 30 tech employees in a room and tell them to code nonstop for 24 hours? Did you say sleep deprivation? Yes! You also get innovation, creativity, and a coding night!
Three weeks ago, we organized a Coding Night at Recast.AI, a French startup in the Artificial Intelligence industry, recently acquired by SAP, a large enterprise software company.
The goals were to work with a team and build a functional product at the end of the 24 hours, to have fun, and to drink lots of beer. You may think the first and third point are contradictory, but we can assure you they are not.
I want to share with you our first experience of this tech event, largely inspired by the best coding night in Paris made by BlaBlaCar, but first here is some context for why we decided to do this.
As I mentioned before, SAP acquired Recast.AI a few months ago. There are many ways that a merger can affect startup culture. Lucky for us, our daily life didn’t change too much. Our team still is still able to work together inside SAP to achieve our initial vision of bringing automated conversation into every product to improve people’s daily lives.
We gained the resources and the power of leadership and sales. And most importantly, an additional 20 awesome people from SAP across the ocean in Palo Alto that have joined us in this adventure.
This coding night was organized for three main reasons:
- Bring people together across locations for 24 hours and have fun together
- Take a breath of fresh air and get away from everyday life
- Start building a strong tech identity inside SAP
If you work on a product team, you know that the developers are the ones that make the product run. You can’t have a strong product unless your developers are invested and care about the work being done.
A coding night is a great way to allow developers to explore their wild side and show everyone just what they can do. At the beginning of the event, I was expecting that every team will build some sort of “funny app” or weird robot that can help you eat pizza without taking your hands off the keyboard.
I was surprised (and a little sad to have not seen a pizza feeding robot) to see that half of the projects were about improving our product, with new ideas, new features, new technology improvements.
The only requirement was to create some sort of viable technology product at the end of the 24 hours. This event allowed our team to explore without barriers and to help our product grow.
Now, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of the event. Let’s go through the details of how we got these two cross location teams in different time zones to work together and create code. Oh, and most importantly what the goodies and food situation looked like.
We started on a Thursday 8am Palo Alto time and 6pm Paris time, and ended 24 hours later. Palo Alto was drinking coffee while the Paris team was drinking beer. We gave people time prior to the event to form teams and come up with development ideas. After the kickoff, they got right to coding.
Of course, food and drinks were always present, and with a background of Golden State Warriors game, nerf gun battles, and ping-pong, the atmosphere was relaxed.
After 24 hours, all the teams presented their work. We had seven teams each working on a unique project. There was a chat bot-based murder mystery game, a chrome extension that highlights key words in a Wikipedia article, a Cross Fit chatbot to book your next training session, and an automated Ping-Pong master arbitrator.
Everyone voted for their favorite project across four categories and the winners were given their awards!
This night was full of memories for the whole team. We got great new features ideas for our product, and above all else our cross-ocean teams had the opportunity to work together and support each other during the 24 hours.
Events like these do wonders for team morale and can truly bring people together while also strengthening your product. We are already planning our next one!
I hope this inspired you to create your own Coding Night. It is always a good idea to add a little change to the daily routine. You never know what may happen and what type of affect it can have on the identity of your company.
If you enjoy these kinds of events and ways of working, we’re hiring both in Paris and in Palo Alto, so check out our job page 😉 Maybe you will get to be part of the next Coding Night!