GoustoTech’s festive coding competition

Steve Barker
Gousto Engineering & Data
3 min readJan 20, 2021


This winter we launched a friendly company-wide coding competition using Advent of Code — a website that presents a new programming challenge every day of December until the 25th.

We set up two leaderboards — an individual one and a squad leaderboard, to determine which team and individual would be crowned Advent of Code champions.

Before long someone had created a Slackbot to keep track of who was getting the most points:

How does Advent of Code code work?

Everyone is given the same kata each day, but with a different seed to ensure answers can’t be shared. Generally the puzzles get more difficult over time, but we found that specific skill sets meant that some days were much easier for some than others. One of the main skills early on is simply reading the question carefully.

Advent of code lets you complete the challenges in any language you like — while most people opted for Python, there were a few people who decided to use the challenge to brush up on Rust, or even SQL.

Points were awarded for each successful challenge, however in the case of ties, it was whoever completed the challenge first.

The race is on

By the 17th December, Radishes squad were firmly in the lead with 98 points:

By this point everyone was getting more competitive, and the challenges were getting more difficult…

25th December — the final push and winners

By Christmas GoustoTech had bagged 1,117 points across 25 two-part challenges! Our winners were as follows:

3rd place went to Antoine Gomez gaining his 50th star at 6:11am on Christmas Day
2nd place went to Costas Basdekis gaining his 50th star at 5:45am on Christmas Day

However the 1st place award went to Matt Cooper who achieved his 50th star at 5:11am on the 25th December — an impressive 11 minutes after the challenge was posted online.

After a promising start by the Carrots (we name our teams after vegetables), they were left in the dust by the Radishes who gained an impressive 195 stars from 9 engineers and were crowned our winning squad.

It’s fair to say that this competition brought a some festive cheer at a time when it was certainly needed. When we first looked at Advent of Code we expected a handful of engineers might get involved — in the end we had 56 people take part, from various teams across Gousto, not just from software engineering. Thank you to everyone who took part!

If you’re interested in the the challenges for 2020 or any of the previous years, you can find them at adventofcode.com

Thanks too to Eric Wastl, the creator of Advent of Code