FreeWheel Hackathon 2016: Unleashing the Beasts of Innovation

We recently completed FreeWheel’s Second Annual Global Hackathon: a 24-hour marathon during which our people transcend geo and departmental borders to collaborate, incubate and innovate. This year’s hackathon was a record-breaking event for our company. More than 250 hackers in the US, China, France and the UK consumed record amounts of coffee and Red Bull while building 49 impressive projects that promote both innovation and efficiency in our operations. The demo phase of the hackathon was streamed globally to foster connection across the entire organization.

Unleashing the Beasts of Innovation

FreeWheelers self-organized into teams, with some participants taking on roles vastly from their day jobs, to solve actual challenges our clients are facing like improving ad experience and production enhancement. A case in point, Michael Evangelista from our Product Management team became an engineer for 24-hours and led a team that won the award for best production enhancement. Collaboration is not considered not just a byproduct of this event, but a key component of winning. Teams that included members from the most amount of offices received extra points by the hackathon judges.

2016 Hackathon Challenges

In the two challenges positioned in the event, teams were tasked to either generate radically new and different approaches to advertising that will delight consumers or to develop production enhancements that will make our product and operations more efficient and effective.  There were a number of fun and well-crafted projects presented at this year’s event attributed to each challenge, here are three examples:

Most Popular: “Ad Mirror” (Yundong Chen, Ling Qin, Kang Peng, Quan Yin, Xinyu Zhang, Xi Chen)
Innovating how we use the time spent looking in the mirror by making the mirror interactive via a sensor embedded into the frame. The mirror itself becomes a hub for content, information and advertising. Imagine checking the weather, latest news and your calendar while brushing your teeth, along with some well-placed advertising.

Best Production Enhancement: “No Prob-Llama” (Michael Evangelista, Helen Drislane, Sara Wallace)
In an effort to drive product efficiencies, this team created a Google Chrome extension that seamlessly connects FreeWheel’s ad delivery and diagnosis process to the MRM and HyLDA UI.

Most Loved by the CTO: “Human Ad Server“ (Ben Pelcyger, Talia Carr, Rishi Bandopadhay, Ginny Huang, Jerome Laurent, Alexa Atamanchuk, Jyothi Shetty, Tanya Chen, Qian Zhao)
Bringing a gaming element to our technology, this team, which also won extra points for including FreeWheelers from the US, China, and France, created a card game with rules abstracting FreeWheel’s ad serving logic. An extension pack to the game incorporates’s RTB logic for an additional layer of fun.

Though the hackathon is complete, the efforts around the ideas sparked at the event are just beginning, as teams continue to build and scale their initiatives. These innovations will benefit both our internal teams and FreeWheel customers before long.