Hackathon 7 launches with The Hack Show

How we turned a Hackathon into a game show

Come on down…it’s Hackathon season at SEEK!

We had finally settled on a Game Show theme for SEEK’s 7th Hackathon. Now usually we get the prospective hackers to Pitch their ideas just prior to the Hackathon, but we decided to change it up this time around, not only running the Pitch 3 weeks earlier than usual but changing its premise too. This time it was all about Pitching the Problem, not the solution — pitching what we see as the most pressing problems facing our Candidates, Hirers, Businesses, Volunteers & internal customers.

It’s Nov 15, 10.55am and SEEKers are flocking to Studio Hub for Episode 1 of The Hack Show, while the organisers stand anxiously in the wings. We’d decorated The Hub as a game show stage with plenty of glitz, glamour & those un-mistakeable melodies from game shows both past & present. At 11am, the lights dimmed, cameras started rolling and now it was over to Brendan (aka the voice-over guy)…

“Welcome to The Hack Show, please put your hands together for two of the biggest hacks in show business, your hosts Kyle & Jacqui.”

Our effervescent hosts glided onto the stage, complete with spangled vests, dance moves, slick chatter & adlibbing galore. Joining them were 25 lucky contestants aiming to win the hearts and minds of those in the audience. Each contestant had up to 2 mins to convince the crowd that their pitch was best before they were gonged off the stage.

The Hack Show was split into three rounds. Round 1 — the Pitcher’s Hotseat — where the first batch of contestants were grilled by Kyle prior to their pitch. The presentations flowed almost flawlessly and they were followed by a few messages from the sponsors which gave us time to setup for Round 2 . Here we re-created Perfect Match — where a hidden SEEKer looking to join a hack team listens to three contestants who vie for the chance to get the highest compatibility score. The final round was the Pitcher’s Podium — Family Feud style — where two contestants competed for the right to pitch first. Standing before the buzzer, they were asked difficult questions such as “What was the theme of the last SEEK Christmas Party?”and “How many bags of coffee are used in The Hub each week “— apparently it’s 122,000.

It became apparent during the Pitch that there was some kind of private competition going on between the Pitchers to come up with the most creative team names. For example, Swipe Left, SEEK Au Pair, unsHACKle, Curiously Paranoid, Job-Tik, Identity Wizards & Qualibution.

In another break from tradition, no-one knew what anyone else was pitching about. Surprisingly there was no duplication of ideas. Here are some of the problems presented by our would-be hackers:

  • how to help candidates keep track of their careers & education
  • how can we better use machine learning, AI & natural language processing
  • how can we help Hirers create a more diverse and inclusive workforce
  • how to help the one in ten SEEKers trying to juggle work life with raising a family
  • internal hacks such as trying to make life easier for our new starters
  • and on the less serious side of things — how to fix the problem of SEEK cycling gear wearing thin & posing a hazard to road users.

Like the applause that greeted our contestants, the feedback came through loud and strong —

… it was a terrifically entertaining Pitch Pulpit. it was well thought out, well executed and just plain great. Congrats to the organising committee.

We’re eagerly waiting the next episode of the Hack Show which starts in a couple of days. But for now, it’s a round of applause for all our contestants, and it’s goodnight Australia from Kyle and Jacqui.

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