This week, our client team had the pleasure of attending and presenting at Bosch’s internal Mobile App Symposium. The goal of the event was to showcase and educate employees on the various initiatives Bosch has launched in the mobile space. We were selected to present the Flybits product, which was also used in a hackathon the following day. Seven teams worked hard throughout an afternoon to create simple, proof-of-concept mobile applications that could help Bosch grow as a company. The teams were then judged in several areas, including their business plans, usage of our technology, and their final presentations.
Hackathons are a great tool for companies, especially startups, to gauge the usability of their platform. They allow teams like ours to gain insight into how external developers use their platform, what key features are missing, how well their documentation is structured and, mostly importantly, why a business would want to use their platform in the first place. Feedback of this kind can be intimidating for any startup – you never want your platform to fail and as developers begin to explore your platform, doubts inevitably creep into your mind. What if it doesn’t work? What if there isn’t enough documentation? What if people leave because it’s hard to get started? Try and remember along the way that critique will benefit you in the long run!
Understanding how developers interact and use your platform is one of the most important aspects of a hackathon. Having something go wrong during the event does not mean the death of your platform — it shows you where you can improve. One piece of feedback that we received at the Flybits hackathon was that we need to provide more detailed “getting started” documentation. Since we work mostly with large-scale enterprise customers, this is never an issue because we hold numerous workshops with them to make sure they fully understand how to use the technology. Additionally, we have a customer success team that constantly follows up to ensure everything is working well. However, if a developer just wants to get started on their own at a hackathon, the less handholding they require, the faster they can build a viable prototype.
Overall, the hackathon was an interesting experience. We learned a lot about our platform, both the good parts and the ones that need improvement. But that’s the whole point of a hackathon for a startup. We are always looking to improve our platform, and there is no better format than to release your platform to the public and let them inspect, build, and experiment.