Hiyacar HackFest: ‘full immersion’ to ship stuff as quickly as possible

Greg Okninski
Greg Okninski
Full-stack Developer at hiyacar
Hiyacar HackFest: ‘full immersion’ to ship stuff as quickly as possible

Following the success of introducing Hack Days to the development team, it became apparent that more items could be delivered in a shorter space of time if the guys were able to isolate themselves from distractions, even for just a day, and to clearly focus themselves on one task at a time. Most developers and indeed office workers will know that within the office environment you end up doing 3 or 4 things at once. I even joke with the guys saying that I am now returning to “my original original original task” after completing a number of new tasks that have spontaneously appeared in my workflow.

Sergio, our CPO, communicated with the rest of the team that we have a long product roadmap to drive down, as many of the features included in our roadmap Trello board are imperative to pushing the company forward and giving our members the excellent service they require. Hiyacar is doing something very special in London and we want to consolidate it as the leading peer to peer car hire in the UK.

Sergio and I met to discuss what we could do and we came up with the idea of “HackFest”, that is, a week of full immersion coding in an isolated location outside of London. After discussion with the rest of the team and with significant others, this proved a bit too much as some of us have children and pregnant girlfriends…you can imagine how those conversations went down!

So to keep the peace, we went ahead with HackFest as a series of hack days, once a week over the course of a month. Luckily we were able to use Joe’s studio named The Chocolate Factory as our base of operations in deepest darkest Wood Green.

Once we were setup we were able to run through a bunch of important deliverables over the coming weeks, including:

  • Updates to how we pre-authorise payments
  • Driver journeys (car details to checkout pages) on Web
  • Notification centre for consenting to marketing emails (GDPR)
  • Checkout screens on iOS and Android
  • Share and Earn on iOS and Android
  • SEO for the search landing pages
  • UX designs for onboarding and verification journeys for drivers

All of this and more was completed in the time, all to the sounds of Synthwave, Retrowave, Italo Disco and other obscure genres of music which Joe tantalised our eardrums with. Roosters became the go to place to order ‘brain food’ from: burgers, fries and chicken wings laced with hot peri peri!

Some of my learnings after HackFest were…

  1. The boss burger from Roosters is the one.
  2. “Full Immersion Mode” is Sergio’s favourite quote.
  3. Synthwave is the best coding music.
  4. Seriously though, as a development team we were able to achieve 2 to 3 times more in comparison to a normal days work due to the fact that the entire team was together and fully concentrated. We proved that you can indeed achieve a lot in Full Immersion Mode! Perhaps the key was that, even though we were working on big roadmap features, we had very clear and specific targets for each of the days. Plus almost 0 interruptions from the outside world which resulted in greater output. If you work as part of a tech team, doing a HackFest might be good practise to boost your energy and productivity.
  5. We should definitely do another HackFest next summer :-)

Our tech team is on a mission to deliver the best possible peer to peer car rental platform for drivers and car owners in London. Many more exciting features coming soon to our web and apps!

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