#POCOHackathon Retrospective


Coding is fun, learning is even better!

The POCO team and the like-minded entrepreneurs and engineers from the connnectU team were able to crush more than just pizza, donuts and (only a few – I promise) adult refreshments this past weekend. The two teams came together to build connectU’s flagship iOS and Android app — a communication system for colleges that encourages students to connect and be involved.

Designs for connnectU loading page

Designs for connnectU loading page

To bring a product from idea to reality would require some hard work — a challenge either side wasn’t afraid to accept. The collaboration of the two teams, which have never worked before, meant there would be a tight schedule, strong organization and a bit of science to get a room of developers, creative minds and business people through Tuckman’s stages of group development rapidly.

On your marks. Get set. Code!

Inspired by the Startup Weekends motto — “lock yourself in a room for 54 hours and launch a business” — POCO and connectU would go hard for a limited amount of time and design, build and deploy an app but not jeopardize quality.

Heres a summary of how the weekend and the build up to the weekend went down:

Some pre planning occurred slightly before the Friday night POCO Hackathon kickoff. Using Google Hangouts the team was able to paint a high level picture of what the platform would do. This Hangout also served as a good ice breaker for the two teams.

POCO and connectU on Google Hangouts pre planning

POCO and connectU on Google Hangouts pre planning

Friday Night Kickoff

The teams kicked off the POCO Hackathon Friday night, after most of the team members completed their full time day jobs. The mood was intended to be light and social. With some pizza and beer the team still had an agenda to follow:

  • Individuals roles
  • Product design finalization
  • Technology discussion
  • Workspace setup
  • Git workflow
POCO team configuring GIT workflow and Jenkins CI for automated builds.

POCO team configuring the GIT workflow and Jenkins CI for automated builds. A valuable learning component that a lot of members identified in retrospect.


Brain fuel

Brain fuel


Team collaboration – Friday night

Standing up the teams backend server on a Digital Ocean droplet — the team collaborated on the best practice to have multiple developers pushing and deploying code. The team also included an automated build process, using Jenkins CI, which would remove the need to manually ftp or copy files to the live server but instead build the new code on commits to the teams Master branch.

The team also needed way to manage the work to be done. Using Taiga.io, an award winning agile software tool, the teams created a Kanban board and started working to write up and enter the key User Stories which would need to be satisfied to bring this products value proposition to reality. The User Stories were organized by priority and tagged with its appropriate feature.

Saturday & Sunday- Crunch Time

Loaded up on 3 boxes of donuts and a box o’ joe, Saturday was crunch time. On the agenda: code, test, iterate.

Backend services were wired up, sleek UI’s flushed out, key components built as reusable components and a robust notification engine. As the clock ticked, it became apparent that we were running out of time!


Crunch time.


Team working hard.

User stories were moving from in progress to completed steadily but it came apparent that to create a good quality product it was going to take some time.

Saturday came to an end and Sunday afternoon the team met up again. What should of been a day to deploy the app onto it’s respective platform turned into a half day of coding and future planning.


The POCO team conducted a survey with the Hackathon participants. An example of the survey can be found here. 100% of the participants have said they would participate in another POCO Hackathon and most have said that this event has in some way benefited their career. A few of the open ended responses highlighted how great it was to work with such like minded and talented developers and to learn the automation and dev op tools. We also learned from the results that the event was too short for the scope of the work. Although it was organized efficiently and the objectives clear it was just simply too much to take on in a day and a half of coding. What would happen if these two teams were in the same room for 40 hours a week — nothing short of magic (IMO).

So whats next for connectU and POCO? The team still has the backlog of User Stories to pick from and work, passion and the drive to get a working beta released in the very near future. Will the team be up for another Hackathon weekend to revamp and bring the project closer to success? Maybe! We’ll keep you updated. 😉

POCO is:  James Simoes, Andrew Tavares, Chris Medeiros, Jared Leite and Jay Martin

connectU is:  Zack Martin, Tyler Oliver, Nick Van Beek and John Hurley

Oh.. and a huge thank you to the UMass Dartmouth Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for accommodating our Hackathon.

For more helpful tips on Project Management, mobile development and to keep up with our future Hackathons and events, follow @POCODevStudio on Twitter!

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