5,500 miles for #BookingHacks All Women Edition

Product managers / owners are here to help #WhoWantsAnMVP
Product managers / owners are here to help #WhoWantsAnMVP

I had an amazing experience in Amsterdam recently (July 2017) at Booking.com’s Hackathon All Women Edition. I found out about the hackathon from a post in the “Women in Product” Slack group by someone who came across the event. The hackathon intrigued me in many ways: 1) it was for only women, 2) they wanted participants from 6 different functional roles (UX, FE, BE, mobile, PO/PM, and copywriters), and 3) all participants get to travel to Amsterdam. I’ve been to a few hackathons as a participant (Startup Weekend, iOS Dev Camp, Google’s HTML5 hackathon, EBay’s Skunkworks) and as a judge (Yahoo’s Hack Day, Yahoo’s Grace Hopper Conference hackathon). This was the first where I’ve seen a concerted effort to have fully functional hack teams and involvement of 20+ countries. The acceptance rate was about 10%! There were some really bright women in attendance, watch out!

One of the things that I really like about hackathons is the opportunity to learn from each other or companies involved, whether it be new technology, best practices, or industry trends. We were given some Booking.com best practices for pitching new ideas and were offered mentors to help answer questions on how to think about the Booking.com user and the business. Additionally, Booking.com brought in outside female leader speakers (Iffat Gill for Code to Change, Janneke Niessen for InspiringFifty and more) to talk about cultivating and mentoring women in tech. I’ve come to know that Amsterdam has some really good women in tech support groups. The video below was shown by Janneke.

Now to our hack. Our team name was “The Nomads” to reflect our independent female traveler style. Portugal, Germany, Australia, Kazakhstan, and USA were represented on the team. It was a cultural, geography, and (country) political learning bootcamp experience for the better.

First hack presenters of the day #FakingAwakeButNotAwake
First hack presenters of the day #FakingAwakeButNotAwake

As we were brainstorming ideas on what to hack on, one of our team members talked about her experience as a female solo traveler and feeling unsafe in unknown parts of the world. Our hack “She’s Safe” was born from that. It’s a set of personal-safety Booking.com features to empower its users to search and stay at hotels with a better peace of mind. I’ve included the pitch deck here for your perusal.

Although we didn’t take home the grand prize, we did develop a functional hack using Swift, user location, and SendGrid email services. We produced a compelling business case and working demo that we were all proud of plus we focused on an issue that hit close to home. It was teamwork at its best – Dajana (UI/UX designer), Jo (copywriter), Naz (mobile developer), Marta (FE developer), and me (product manager).

Thank you to Booking.com for hosting such a fabulous hackathon all women edition event in one of the most happiest, eco-friendly, colorful places in the world (in my opinion).  #BookingHacks @PlanetBooking #WomenInTech #bitterballen

Our demo (Thanks to Naz for recording the iOS app so that we can share out!)

More photos (Thanks to Marilyn Yee at Booking.com for taking beautiful photos!)35741881480_edc57f919f_o
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#bitterballen on the canal
#bitterballen on the canal