An interview with our hackathon team captains

Our recent hackathon welcomed 10 hours of organised chaos in our Media City office. No rules. Just the free rein to create something impactful. 

14 team members stepped up and fought for the coveted role of team captain, resulting in two teams led by Seb (Developer) and Sam (WordPress Developer).  

Projects were judged for creativity, ambitiousness, UI design, execution, and the all-important demo. 

The team that came out on top after peer voting was Seb’s team, with an online game for music fanatics inspired by Wordle. 

We interviewed our captains about the day and their projects.  


Seb’s team

Included: Tommy (Developer), Chris (Senior Developer), Kurtis (Lead Developer), Dani (Product Manager), Nathan (QA Lead), and Becky (Project Coordinator). 

The winning idea:  

An online game that tests how well users can spot their favourite Spotify tracks by deciphering pixelated album artwork. Need a hint? Sacrifice some points to see the year of release.  

The tech: 

  • Next.js for the techstack 
  • Vercel for website hosting 
  • GitHub for GIT control 
  • Spotify free APIs for user data 

WeDo Hackathon Project 1 - game screen showing pixelated album artwork


Seb, how was the process of making your own teams?  

“It was a free-for-all. We just messaged people, rapid. Sam and I volunteered, and we had to pick our teams first-come-first-served. I picked my team members because I know we work well together daily, which worked in my favour.”  

How did you decide on the idea?  

“We knew we wanted to do something music-related, so naturally integrated with Spotify. We took inspiration from Wordle, Heardle – those types of apps. If you look at the black screen and the layout… well, we copied it.” 

How was the atmosphere?  

“Both teams were competitive, so naturally I think it caused a bit of tension at times. But it was great – events like this define our culture. In my eyes, we’re not like the IT Crowd –we’re all quite outgoing and extroverted. We like spending time together and going out.” 

Would you do anything differently in the future?  

“We won, so no. Just kidding… I’d try and mix up the teams more. But I think we did everything alright; we went in with no plan and kept it flexible.” 

Did you learn anything from the experience?  

“From a technology point of view; yes, my team taught me new things. We would’ve learnt more if we’d picked something brand new, but the aim was to try and get a finished product. Trying to win was the main motivation for us.”  

What do you see for future hackathons?  

“A hackathon is usually for developers, which is why it’s difficult to get other people involved. But keeping things more light-hearted meant even less tech-y people could join in. Not everybody enjoys drinking or going out for food, but everyone will happily get involved in something like this.” 


Sam’s team

Included: Rob (Lead Developer), Josh (Senior Developer), Matthew (Developer), Chelsea (Business Analyst), Helen (Business Analyst), Mick (Delivery Manager).

The idea:  

A system that used Smart lightbulbs to signal code failures in development work. To add insult to injury, Alexa would unleash a ChatGPT-generated joke about the offending developer. 

The tech: 

  • Azure API for getting info about the build status 
  • Phillips Hue API for controlling the lightbulbs 
  • ChatGPT API to write the joke  
  • Amazon Alexa API to announce the joke
  • SignalR to enable live updates in the web interface  
  • REST API to enable requests from our web app to our API  
  • OData – uses an open standard format for the shape of the REST API communications 
  • C#, React, TypeScript for the tech stack (writing the app and interface)  


WeDo Hackathon Project 2 - screen share of demo showing UI and light bulbs working


Sam, how was the process of making your own teams?  

“I’m new to WeDo: Digital – I put myself forward to run the team having never met anyone in-person before. I chose based on who I’d be working with day-to-day, so I could get to know people better.” 

How did you decide on the idea?  

“We wanted to create something physical – not just an app. Something that broke out of the tech we use on a day-to-day basis. The original idea was to program a siren, but we weren’t able to get the parts we needed in time, so we came up with a way using the tools we already had: Smart Bulbs and Alexas.” 

How was the atmosphere?  

“It was ‘alive’. There was a lot of buzz. People were just happy to be together and excited to work together, especially as some hadn’t met in-person before. It was intense, but positive.” 

Would you do anything differently in the future?  

“We’d put more thought into the presentation. Ours was difficult to present because it was a physical thing at its core. For people watching our presentation online, it was difficult to make an impact.” 

Did you learn anything?  

“I learnt some new code and met most of my colleagues, which was great considering I live hours away in Scotland. I’ve never worked in that kind of group coding situation. Seeing how backend and frontend can be built differently and put together, and how people work in teams to code like that, was all new to me.” 

What do you see for future hackathons?  

“We’re aiming to break away from the traditional hackathon model to get more people involved, because we want it to be accessible to everyone in the company, not just developers.” 


Well done to everyone involved – it was a close one (just 0.4 points apart!), but Seb’s team swung the balance for the game’s UI and execution.  

Sam’s team, maybe next time… 


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