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How Hackathons are Driving Collaboration and Innovation at Shipt

Jul 14, 2023
Jul 14, 2023

How Hackathons are Driving Collaboration and Innovation at Shipt

Shipt tech teams are bringing their expertise and passions into development

At Shipt, we’re leveraging the latest in technology and spinning up innovation from all corners of our company to deliver experiences that matter across the retail technology industry. Whether for customers, shoppers, drivers, retail partners, or even company employees, Shipt team members are always looking for ways to think outside of the box. While there are so many ways we cultivate drive and creativity, one we’ve been doubling down on as of late are hackathons. So, what does a hackathon look like at Shipt? Read on to find out: 

Hackathons, or a marathon event that brings tech teams together to build and stand up a new product, help us all pick our heads up out of the day-to-day and think differently about the business. We know firsthand that great ideas come from everywhere and everyone, so gathering people across teams and encouraging them to work differently is not only inspiring, but a proven success story. 

"Hackathons are born from the desire to step away from roadmaps and meetings, and think big picture," said Nick G, director of engineering for marketplace and one of this year’s hackathon leaders. 

We instill creativity from the very beginning by empowering employees to name hackathons and give each one their own branding, like the gleeful Curiodyssey and the motivating Turn Up the Volume. In alignment with the Shipt culture that encourages everyone to bring their authentic self to work, these punny names are rooted in hackathon goals and allow team members to add flair to the event. 

Hackathons focus on a specific opportunity – it could be a way to keep customers coming back again and again, an experience we can enhance and make better (like continuously reducing friction), or even improving an aspect of one of our business lines. To ensure actionable change, hackathons always begin with a key area of focus, establishing a Northstar to work towards. While pie-in-the-sky idea generation is an important part of brainstorming, narrowing the scope is how teams ensure these projects can move the needle for the organization.  

Next comes the whiteboard phase. Team members submit concepts through a Slack channel integration to preserve individual thinking before collaboration and consideration. And the sky is the limit! Typically, around 50 concepts are shared as a place to start. Then, those participating in a hackathon vote for topics. The ask is this – proof of concept isn’t enough. Are the ideas time-bound? Can they reach production quickly and how easily can they be iterated on?

“To build solutions that increasingly enhance the experiences people have with Shipt, it's critical that we foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their authentic selves and ideas," said Mike Calvo, chief technology officer, Shipt. "Hackathons help us cultivate a spirit of healthy challenge and innovative change."

Once the concepts are decided on, teams begin assembling. To ensure all areas of the product or tech solution can live post-hackathon, representatives from many departments – across operations, product, technology, and more – are engaged. Teams use their working days to focus on their hackathon projects and in just one working week, these concepts turn into full-fledged functional products. These products are fitted for web and app, and have components ready to reach production within weeks. It means that Shipt teams are now prepared to present their considerations to a full audience of peers and executive leaders. 

Following a fun few hours of presentation, where ideas are wholeheartedly welcomed and applauded for the time committed and creativity shared, a handful of awards are given out to the concepts that garner the most excitement.  

At Shipt, we believe that technology, when paired with the power of the human connection, is the greatest approach to drive positive change in our business and people’s lives. And hackathons are bringing teams together to maximize the impact our tech and product features can have on those we serve. 

“I had the privilege of attending the Turn Up the Volume hackathon and it was the BEST Friday I've had at Shipt so far," said Smrutha Ipparthi, chief product officer, Shipt. "There was so much energy, so much positivity, and so much inspiration –  it fueled my excitement for what’s to come." 

Stay tuned for more tech updates from the Shipt team as we continue to unlock new opportunities and leverage innovative minds to drive impactful technical solutions. 

About Shipt

Shipt is a retail tech company that connects people to reliable, high-quality delivery with a personal touch. Through the power of technology, Shipt connects customers to the things they want from the stores they love, workers to new earning opportunities, and retail businesses to more satisfied customers. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Shipt brings people the flexible solutions they need with the above-and-beyond service they expect. Shipt is an independently operated subsidiary of Target Corp. and available in more than 5,000 U.S. cities. For more information, please visit Shipt’s Newsroom.

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