At Vertalab, we invest part of our working time in self-improvement. Usually, it happens on Fridays. We use this time to play around with our own startup ideas, improve our internal tools, or learn new things.
I see this practice as a tool that helps the Vertalab team to grow and to provide better service to our clients. There are several reasons for this:
- Freedom of codingCoding parties make developers and designers happier. Not limited by client’s requirements, they can use any technology they want. Although we do not limit ourselves technology-wise, we are still limited by time, which often leads to finding creative (sometimes even unexpected) solutions.
- Building own productsSometimes we build MVPs of our own ideas, and that gives our team members a unique perspective and experience, which is later used while developing minimum viable products for our clients. It can also happen that creating minimum viable products for our own ideas can give a birth to new products or services that we continue to develop on a commercial basis.
- Getting recognitionIn addition, building one’s own hacks brings a thrill of excitement: sometimes our hacks go unnoticed and sometimes the story is picked up by media and becomes news.
Here are just a few examples from the past.
One time we built a heat map to analyze tweets containing ‘F*ck you’ or ‘Good morning’ to find out if those tweets have any correlation with geographical location (it later turned out they do). This hack got us lots of attention from popular media and led to my 2 AM interview with one of the Boston TV channels. In addition, we met many people and got a ton of business leads and a few conversations with VCs.
Another time, we built an app for analyzing a weird smell in our city, allowing users to report locations with bad smells. Information generated by users of this app was used by a local news outlet to create a map and attempt to identify the source of the smell. I was also invited to the local TV station as a “smell specialist.”
Coding parties are a fun way to get our creative juices flowing and build skills critical to the success of our clients. By getting the entire team to work together we get to know each other better and become a much stronger team.