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Metal Toad’s 2020 Hackathon: AWS Remote Work Innovations

It’s hackathon time again at Metal Toad! Twice a year, we set aside the day-to-day and dive into an exciting 48-hour innovation whirlwind of rapid development.

It’s hackathon time again at Metal Toad! Twice a year, we set aside the day-to-day and dive into an exciting 48-hour innovation whirlwind of rapid development. It’s a chance to play on the leading edge of cloud technology, and we have a lot of fun doing it. We hope you’ll follow along with our journey!

Our theme this time around is remote work. We’ve been a remote-first company since October 2019—so we got best practices under our belt before companies around the world were forced to grapple with the workplace disruptions of COVID-19. We committed to remote-first because it makes a lot of business sense—better retention, productivity, and profits—and because it promotes diversity and inclusion. If you'd like more details on the benefits of a remote-first workplace, take a look at this blog post

We chose the remote work theme for our Q4 hackathon to build on our experience, innovate on our existing practices, and and share our lessons learned with businesses optimizing their remote workflows.

What’s a hackathon?

At Metal Toad, a hackathon is two solid days of innovation and creativity. Toads form teams, come up with something they want to create, and use AWS tools to build an actual working piece of software in just 48 hours. Hackathons are just one of the ways we invest in our people’s professional growth—not to mention R&D—while having a blast!

Here’s how it works: 

  • We choose a theme that reflects the leading edge of technology and our clients’ top business needs
  • The Toads divide up into teams and outline projects that respond to the theme
  • Bright and early on Wednesday, the hacking begins! The teams spin up and launch into collaboration and creation 
  • The teams have until Thursday night to complete their working products (yes, much coffee is consumed)
  • The teams present their projects on Friday—and then it’s time to relax and celebrate

Our Q4 hackathon begins bright and early on Wednesday, December 16 and concludes with team presentations on Friday, December 18—followed by a party, of course!

What will we build?

During this hackathon, Toads will leverage AWS products and services to build solutions for remote work needs like:

  • Real-time chat language conversion 
  • Virtual whiteboard using Amplify Chime
  • Classroom innovation
  • Viewing parties

What’s the value of a hackathon?

Hackathons are more than just a great time—we invest in them twice a year because they add significant value to our business. Here are the top benefits:

  • Exploring and building expertise with rapidly evolving technologies
  • Growing team relationships and and collaboration skills
  • Driving skill development and sparking new insights into AWS cloud potential
  • Enhancing fast, creative problem-solving skills
  • Delivering fresh new prototypes for emerging use cases

How can you follow the action?

  • Join us on social media—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—to get the latest updates and catch our videos of Toads in the midst of creation (follow #metaltoad so you don’t miss a thing!)
  • Check out the summary of what the Toads created—we’ll post it after the hackathon is complete
  • Next week, get the deets from the Toads themselves (we’ll post on social channels and our blog) about their hackathon experiences

How can you put on your own hackathon?

If you’re feeling inspired to host your own hackathon, we encourage you to go for it! Here’s a few hints on planning your own: 

  • Take a look at our blog post on how to get the most out of your hackathon
  • Explore the cool projects the Toads have built during past hackathons
  • Drop us a line! We’d be delighted to help you push the envelope with your own innovation marathon

And if you’re wondering whether you can run a hackathon remotely, we’re here to tell you that it’s not only possible—it can be awesome! We collaborated from a distance for our last hackathon, and the results exceeded our expectations. And who knows, perhaps one of the projects from this Q4 event will turn into software you can use to innovate shoulder-to-virtual-shoulder too! 

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