Hack Week at the Airship

For the past couple of years we’ve held “Free Friday” once a quarter, borrowing from the success of Atlassian, to give employees 24 hours to work on anything they want. The only rule: whatever you work on, you need to be prepared to present it to the rest of the company. We’ve had some incredible products come from ideas first tested during Free Friday.

This year, we turned Free Friday into a week-long event—Hack Week—where teams throughout the company were able to focus on projects we think will make a difference but that we might not normally have the time to work on given day-to-day responsibilities.

Every Airshipper with a Hack Week idea shared it to solicit feedback and to recruit team members, resulting in more than 16 different presentations and many more projects, with tons of collaboration across departments between people who normally don’t have the opportunity to work together on ideas from start to finish.

On Friday the whole company gathered, including remote offices via Polycom, to present our projects in rapid-fire five-minute demos, explaining how they’ll benefit the company, our customers and our employees. While several of these projects will spark new competitive advantages, inform future product development or streamline operations in compelling ways, there are a few we’re happy to share:

I Heart UA | Tracy Abrahms, Helen Crowell, Melissa Manser, Heidi Tretheway
The team collaborated to showcase why people love working for the Airship. More than 30 Airshippers jumped at the chance to become involved, sharing their thoughts with a simple message on a whiteboard. The result, which includes mini cards and a beautiful photo site created in just a few days by our engineers, shows Airshippers’ many reasons for loving where we work, and will be an awesome resource for recruiting efforts. Oh yeah, we’re hiring. You should come fly with us.

The Friggin Web | Greg Weinger, Pete Davis, Andrew Winterman, John Greene, Marc Sciglimpaglia
Building off of recently introduced automation, dynamic segmentation and landing page capabilities, including image hosting and content delivery acceleration, this team demonstrated how different customers can use the mobile web content they already have to serve those pages as deep links within their existing apps. Combined with multi-step automation and dynamic segmentation, customers can actually string together a series of landing pages (effectively creating a micro-site) that adaptively guides customers through critical processes or decision-making.

Landing Opt-in Action | Ramsey Kail, Will Carlson, John Greene
A key, and often neglected, step in building an engaged app audience is securing the opt-in to push messaging. This team showed how customers can replace generic welcome messages with rich messages linked to landing pages with “yes” and “no” buttons. With this method, the value of opting in is explained before users are asked to make the decision through the standard iOS opt-in request. Users clicking the “yes” and “no” buttons are tagged as opt-in or opt-out, delivering the added benefit of being able to re-solicit opt-in at a later time with sophisticated automation rules including timing delays and frequency limits.

Choose Your Own Adventure | David Currie, Matt Price, Jorge Dorantes
This team took the concept of automation and dynamic segments further, offering examples of campaigns where user interactions with rich app pages set new customer attributes and trigger timing and content for the next messages users will receive.

Investor Time | Scott Kveton, Michael Richardson
With multiple rounds of funding including $25M last year, co-founders Kveton and Richardson shared what it’s like to work through various stages of engagement with venture capitalists. Their talk offered both a humorous and insightful view into a world that few get to see but all may be able to benefit from at some point in their careers.

Between beers, coffee, and more donuts and late-night pizza than we care to remember this week, teams bonded, projects are shipping and new ideas and efficiencies abound.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget the mega-kegerator, another Hack Week project by Ramsey Kail.