“To stay ahead of all the fast moving technology developments, we have to be flexible in our way of working. We have to work faster, more productive, more efficient. One of the best ways to do so, is to organize a hackathon.” Jonas Keersmaekers, Product Manager and Marketing Entertainment at Telenet.
Guess who they picked as partner in crime? That’s right: icapps!”
From hackathon to interactive radio
Telenet wanted to create a user-friendly, interactive TV application to replace the static background that you normally see while listening to the radio on your television. As a young and flexible entertainment brand, StuBru was the perfect co-creator for this project. Brecht Vaes, Digital Manager at Studio Brussel: “since Studio Brussel published the first media website in Belgium back in early 1990’s, innovation has always been in its blood. We’ve always been rethinking ways people consume our 'in the moment' and on demand content. This hackathon was really helpful understanding evolving listeners demands versus broadcaster needs, helped by technical solutions.”
Now the only missing part were developers and designers to actually build the platform. “We did not just want any partner to develop the television app during the hackathon. We needed a companion with an agile and an out-of-the-box mentality”, Jonas explains. “We know icapps as a reliable partner with the right mindset, as we have worked together on several projects in the past few years.”
And so the team was formed: Telenet x StuBru x icapps.
The evening of November 14th, we went into isolation and kicked off the hackathon.
1 apartment. 4 developers. 2 designers. 48 hour lockdown.
In the middle of Antwerp, Telenet picked the perfect location to lock up our developers. After a clear briefing by StuBru and Telenet, the doors of the beautifully renovated apartment closed for the next 48 hours. Split into two teams, our developers worked day and night on an application to create interaction between the radio listener and the TV. Together with a UX/UI designer from MINSKY and one from Base, both teams achieved impressive results in such a short timespan.
Fortunately for the teams, it was not 48 hours of non-stop brain activity. Their hard work was rewarded with massages, delicious food prepared by a private chef, a visit from a hairdresser, etc. “One night, as a joke, I texted that I was in the mood for a good gin and tonic”, Maarten Anckaert, web developer at icapps, explains. “Only 5 minutes later, we got a live video that showed one of the organizers running to a local shop to buy us a bottle of gin. Telenet and StuBru really know how to please a developer! When are they hosting the next hackathon?”
“We really wanted the developers and designers to feel at home during those intensive 48 hours,” Jonas confirms. “We tried to create an informal environment, without strict corporate guidelines, in order to free the developers’ creativity to the fullest.”
Stunning results at a mind-blowing pace
After two days, everyone was amazed by the productivity and the speed at which both teams had finished a first version of the TV platform. That’s exactly why Telenet chose this way of working. “The productivity, speed and creativity during a hackathon is hard to beat,” Jonas tells us. “In a ‘normal’ situation an idea has to pass so many stakeholders and so many business departments before it can be built. With a hackathon we skip the formalities as much as possible and we focus on what matters most: the user experience.”
“If you have a good briefing and the right resources, then making a working prototype in 48 hours is doable,” adds Bert van Driessche, responsible for data innovation at Telenet. “Our experience is that you dramatically increase your result by focusing on the people and the setting where they will work during this period. Taking care of people, energising them, making everyone feel good and useful is so important to achieve good results. It makes the Telenet Hackathons the perfect showcase of culture trumping strategy, especially in innovation.”
When we asked our developers about the whole hackathon experience, they were proud of what they had delivered in just two days. But mostly they talked about how much fun they had together and about how exciting it was to build an app for two such amazing brands.
We were very glad that Telenet gave us this opportunity. And the good news is that Telenet is going to continue this way of working for future innovative projects. Did we mention we love hackathons? And gin-tonic? Count us in!
The hackathon in the media: