Hack Like a Girl with Zalando Tech

by Princiya Marina Sequeira - 7 Dec 2016

I recently had the opportunity to be a mentor at the Hack Like A Girl Hackathon. It was organized by Geek Girls Carrots Berlin, with Zalando on board as a sponsor. The hackathon had a health and fitness theme, and I jumped at the chance to volunteer for the event.

Before the hacking was to begin, participants and mentors met up at the Native Intruments offices on Friday evening to brainstorm their health and fitness related hacks for the weekend. We were also tasked with building teams. As a fashion platform, the link to health and fitness might not always be obvious, but with my colleagues Andra and Iuliia, gave some of the participants insights into using the Zalando Shop API.

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I was excited to get participants interested in using our API. Zalando’s fashion reputation was less enticing amongst the participants, who were leaning towards more traditional health and fitness uses. Our pitch involved asking the audience to come up with ideas that involved a little bit of shopping. After all, you need new clothes and certain accessories for a healthy start at the gym!

The API briefing session was followed by a VR workshop using the Unity Framework, with a hands-on-hacking session available before teams became engrossed in their hacks. After our pitch, one of the teams reached out for some help to get started with React. The evening was rounded up with a Zumba workout session, staying true to the hackathon’s theme.

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Jury discussions and voting took place on the Sunday, in the latter part of the afternoon. Being a jury member was an incredible experience, with seven teams presenting their hacks. The source code for all participating teams can be found here.

I was amazed at the energy level of all the participants. There was no drop in their energy, despite it being a Sunday. Our voting was based on code, the idea, and the potential behind the hack. Each jury member voted based on different evaluation criteria, which was interesting to observe:

  • First criteria – potential and uniqueness of the hack
  • Second criteria – presentations and team spirit
  • Third criteria – implementation (working prototype)

It was surprising to me that looking into a team’s source code was the last criteria option, and that team ratings varied when this occurred.

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Overall, Hack Like A Girl was a great event and it was tremendously valuable being a mentor for participating teams. I was excited by the turnout and elated by the whole experience.

The hackathon organizers also produced a short video, available here. I would be happy to answer questions about this fantastic experience – please reach out via Twitter at @princi_ya.

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