Policygenius 2019 Winter Hackathon

Whitney Choo
Jan 21 · 6 min read

Three times a year, Engineering, Product, and Design teams take two days out of their regular working schedule to group up and tackle interesting and important problems. At Policygenius, hackathons are a core part of our culture — it’s a creative outlet for our teams to explore old and new ideas with different people across the company. More importantly, it’s a chance to foster learning, sharing, and innovation. At the end of the day, regardless of whether a project ships or not, we believe that hackathons have a positive impact throughout our organization.

This hackathon, we were impressed by all the amazing hacks that came out at the end of the 48 hours and would like to showcase some of the exciting works that were developed.


geniusbot — ChatOps

geniusbot eoc allows us to see the primary and secondary engineers on call

Geniusbot is a chatbot based on Hubot, a tool built by GitHub. The idea of it stems from the concept of “small but useful tools.” Our geniusbot integrates with Slack, and can respond to a variety of commands. Some include `eoc` which displays the current engineers on call, and `corgi bomb 5`, which will drop 5 corgi pictures to add a little sunshine to your day. With geniusbot, the possibility of a more ChatOps, or conversation-driven development process, is on the horizon. A few of the biggest benefits we see from this is the ability for everyone to collaborate on what commands can be run, see what commands ran, and the subsequent results, as well as automatic logging.

As we build upon this first step, there is an exciting opportunity to integrate with our infrastructure and data teams, and further promote visibility and automation in our culture. Some ideas that we hope to build out in the future include monitoring engineer production access, getting notifications from services that don’t currently support Slack, and quickly retrieving documentation and resources.


Referrals

At Policygenius, our mission is to help consumers get the financial protection they need and feel good about it.

Tracking your referrals

When our customers refer our services to their friends and family, we want to provide them with monetary rewards as a token of appreciation. Although we’ve been using a third-party service as our referrals platform, we’ve found it doesn’t provide the scaling and custom configuration capabilities we need. Hence, one team decided to take on the challenge of building a proof of concept Policygenius referrals platform.

Earn some money referring friends and family to Policygenius!

Though complex, having customization capabilities was worth the time investment of building our own platform. In our case, we specifically wanted a lot more functionality than what came out of the box from our third party service. We wanted more analytics, greater fraud detection, the ability to send smarter CRM campaigns related to referrals, and to provide our users an intuitive and appealing interface for them to track and manage their referrers. Check out these screenshots of what was built!


Analytics

At Policygenius data and analytics play an integral part in how we plan and make strategic business decisions. While we already have analytics in place to better understand our users and evaluate the effectiveness of our product and marketing, there is always room for improvement. As we grow our business, our analytics service should be able to proportionally scale to handle increasing traffic. This hackathon, a team spent time identifying pain points that we’ve encountered with our current analytics platform, and building solutions for it.

Some of the issues we’ve identified revolve around dependency, performance, and versatility. We’ve found that decoupling our analytics from our third party vendor, Segment, by creating our own backend microservice and client libraries, yielded us improvements all around. Currently, to simplify the integration with our current process, we have implemented the new analytics as a wrapper to Segment. However, it has paved the way for us to easily switch providers and potentially even migrate to our own analytics platform in the future. Our new microservice allows us to better normalize analytics across all our existing products and change existing implementation without impacting upstream clients. Furthermore, with careful thought and execution, we were able to decrease our page load time by ~57%, decrease the amount of requests we send by ~90%, and shrink the total Javascript size by ~75%, all on our home page.At Policygenius, performance is important to us. Take a look at how we were able to boost performance elsewhere. We’re also excited to say that the analytics work done here has made its way into production!


Renters Insurance Upgrade

Flutter App → Rails Backend → Google Vision AI → Google Cloud ML

Though one of our biggest products here at Policygenius is homeowners insurance, we also offer our customers renters insurance. We see a lot of potential in revamping our current renters flow by optimizing for efficiency and ease of use. And what better way than to create a mobile app for users?

Sneak peek at our mobile prototype!

Since renters insurance is all about protecting your stuff, it makes perfect sense to want to be able to organize and track belongings. How great would it be to easily snap some pics of your prized possessions and get their estimated worth at the same time? Already have a pic in your photo library? Just upload it to the app. Using exciting technologies like Flutter and Google Image Recognition, one team found that a mobile prototype would really be able to optimize our users’ time.

We’ve found a lot of benefits using Flutter in our day-to-day product work. In this case, to improve the renter’s experience, Flutter really excelled at achieving a seamless user interface for both iOS and Android. To minimize the number of steps in the renter’s process, we’ve integrated the app with Google Image Recognition so that our customers can quickly snap or upload a picture of their valuables and register it to be covered.


What’s next?

While this is just a small subset of the projects that came out by the end of our 2019 Winter hackathon, we are super excited and proud of all the hard work that everyone has put in. Shoutout to the hackathon planning team for coordinating and making this event as smooth as possible. Can’t wait to see what else is built during our next hackathon in 2020!

We’re growing!

Want to help make insurance suck less and help people get financial protection right?

We pride ourselves on our collaborative culture and challenging ourselves to continuously seek better solutions. We’re a growth stage startup expanding both our NYC and Durham headquarters. If we’ve piqued your interest, check out our career boards here!

Policygenius

The easy way to compare and buy insurance.

Thanks to Miles Fricker, David Kaplan, and Dan Novograd

Whitney Choo

Written by

Policygenius

The easy way to compare and buy insurance.

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