It’s more than just a Hackathon

Life at Zeplin

International crew? Not a problem!

Hi folks! 👋 I’m Kalpana, SVP of Product Development here at Zeplin. How do you host a Hackathon with a crew spanning across North America, Europe, Asia, and even Australia? The Zeplin crew made this possible and this year was the kickstart to our first annual Hackathon! So why did we do this?
One of our core values is “enjoy the ride.” We don’t just work hard, but we want to have fun while doing it. Our 2022 Hackathon was meant to be a break from the everyday grind, to re-energize our crew, and a chance to remind ourselves to continue to have fun in everything we do. Hackathons are close to our hearts (we are a tech company, after all) but it's more than that. It breaks us out of our boxes, out of our departments, and out of our routine work week. And, I have to say, I left inspired by the wealth of unique, quirky, delightfully surprising experiences we have in our crew and the sheer creativity and fun it brought to us all.
From the volunteer planning crew executing on logistics to being in a Hackathon group and contributing great ideas, to being a judge, each crew member at Zeplin was able to contribute in some way to make this a successful and fun event. Oh, and let’s just say that Zoom and Slack were our best friends!
So what did our four-day Hackathon look like? Crews had three days to plan and execute and then present to the judges on the fourth and final day. 
We had 4 themes for hack projects:
For Fun (wacky, zany, and silly ideas)
For Zeplin (an idea to make Zeplin an even better product)
For Good (an idea for a non-profit that could use help)
For Experience (a chance to wear a different hat professionally — a developer can be a marketer!).
Each crew member had a choice of what theme they would like to participate in, and they were randomly (ahem!) assigned to a group of folks that had picked the same interest.
Our judging rubric balanced creativity and innovation, value and impact, and function and complexity — and everyone that was not part of a hack crew participated as a judge. My read? Voting is probably as much fun and more stressful than building — yikes! How do I choose?! As a bonus, all winners were offered a Turkish Hamman spa day or other activity of their choice! Now that I think about it, I think I got the raw side of the deal here as a judge what, no spa for me?! Hmm. I’m building next time!
Now…drum roll please…our three winning groups: Silk Road, Leg Zeplin, and Galata 360! Here’s what they had to say about their projects and how everything all came together.

🥇 First Place Winner: Silk Road Crew

Our first-place winner was Silk Road from the “For Zeplin” category! This crew consisted of Josh (Marketing Crew), Gökay (Engineering Crew), Cem (macOS Crew), Cengizhan (Web Crew), and Evan (Support Crew).

Why “Silk Road”?

The Silk Road was a historical trade network that spanned across Asia and other countries. Being that our crew members had Asian, Italian, and Turkish heritage, the group name was formed from that.

What was your Hackathon idea?

Our project (which still has several working titles like “Version Comparison,” “Diff Detector,” “Inspector Diff”) is to give more discoverability on the changes between two versions of a screen in Zeplin. If a designer publishes an updated version of the screen and provides a detailed Commit Message or annotation on what’s changed, then the developers can easily find out what’s new. But that doesn’t always happen and developers are left playing “find the difference” when comparing between two versions. With our project, we added a toggle that highlights the layers that have changed so you know where to point your eyes to. The changes are detected by evaluating the layer data between the two versions.

What did you learn from this experience?

“There is no such thing as impossible if you put five geniuses into a room! All jokes aside, solving all problems asynchronously without even a single meeting was my lesson! I learned it is possible, even if the time is limited and there are lots of foggy parts of the process.”
-Gökay, Engineering Crew


Second Place Winner: Leg Zeplin

Our second-place winners were Leg Zeplin in the “For Fun” category! This crew consisted of Emre (Design Integrations Crew), Melisa (Web Crew), Yigit (Engineering Crew), and Pelin (Design Crew). 

Why “Leg Zeplin”?

After deciding on what to work on, finding the name was pretty easy. Our game's main character is Leglin who is a zeppelin with legs. We decided to do a wordplay on the famous rock band Led Zeppelin.

What was your Hackathon idea?

Leg Zeplin is a 2-D side-scroller where players get to control our beloved Leglin. Leglin wants to fly like all of his friends. He later finds out about Hermes, the ancient Greek god, and messenger. He wants to get to him and ask for his pair of shoes so that he can join his friends and fly. Throughout his journey to Hermes, Leglin must dodge all sorts of obstacles, all related to Spooky Zeplin, who wants to keep him from making his dream of flying come true. We took “fun” literally!

What did you learn from this experience?

“I had never attended a hackathon, and I was curious about it. The biggest thing that I have learned from this experience is that it is really fun and refreshing. I will definitely do it again.”
-Melisa, Web Crew
P.S. The rest of the crew had a few additional comments to add…
Emre: I’m unironically bad at playing our own game. 😅
Yigit: Emre is unironically bad at playing our own game. 😁
Pelin: Emre and Yigit are both equally and unironically bad at playing our own game. 😂

🥉 Third Place Winner: Galata360 Crew

Our third-place winners consisted of Paul (Partner Crew), Yahya (Web Crew), Jason (Product Crew) and Nahit (macOS Crew) from the “For Zeplin” category.

Why “Galata 360”?

Our crew name was inspired by the Galata Tower in Istanbul. It has a 360-degree view where you can see great views of the city! It subliminally set the tone for our group in that we should broaden our view and be more inclusive.

What was your Hackathon idea?

Our project is a language translation add-on for Zeplin. You can create a translation library for your copies in the designs via Zeplin client apps. Then you can generate translated screen variants via the Figma plugin. This helps projects that have different locales maintain translations easily and make design adjustments for translated content. We wanted to help international users and we were very impressed that we could solve this localization problem in Zeplin very easily.

What did you learn from this experience?

“I was fascinated by all of the different ideas from all the hackathon crews. I see that there is no limit to what we can build with this level of creativity.”
-Yahya, Web Crew  

To us, everyone is a winner

But wait, there’s more! We didn’t just offer first, second, and third-place winners overall. We also broke winnings down into various categories. These included:
🤝 Best Crew Collaboration: Flying Zebra
Gulnaz (Engineering Crew), Samil (Design Integrations Crew), Gunes (Design Integrations Crew), Arcan (Support Crew) 
📈 Best Execution: Melahat
Max (Sales Crew), Bedirhan (Web Crew), Kendell (Talent Crew), Patrick (Product Crew)  
🔉 Best Pitch: Z-Box!
Adam (Marketing Crew), Carol (Success Crew), Jamie (Talent Crew)
🌍 Most Impactful: Silk Road
Josh (Marketing Crew), Gökay (Engineering Crew), Cem (macOS Crew), Cengizhan (Web Crew), and Evan (Support Crew)
🎨 Most Creative: Leg Zeplin
Emre (Design Integrations Crew), Melisa (Web Crew), Yigit (Engineering Crew), and Pelin (Design Crew)
🥳 For Fun Category Winner: Maydanoz
Didem (Support Crew), Kundu (Design Crew), Mert (Backend Crew)
🧑‍💻 For Zeplin Category Winner: Silk Road
Josh (Marketing Crew), Gökay (Engineering Crew), Cem (macOS Crew), Cengizhan (Web Crew), and Evan (Support Crew)
🧠 For Experience Category Winner: Brosfourus
Sterling (People Ops Crew), Burak (Backend Crew), Sean (GTM Crew), Andrew (Product Crew)
🦸 For Good Category Winner: ZepZen
Jos (Operations Crew), Karina (Partner Crew), Sertac (Engineering Crew), Bedriye (Support Crew)
✌️ Hack Spirit Award: 2 Tbsp Garam Masala
Shetal (Success Crew), Esther (Marketing Crew)

👋 Until next year

It’s not an easy task to plan an international, cross-time-zone Hackathon with remote participation. A big thank you and kudos to the planning crew who put this together and every Zepliner that participated and contributed to making this a success!
Thank you for making this Hackathon a safe space to share ideas and build anything you can dream of. Thank you for opening up people's perspectives and helping our crew learn about the importance of all roles at Zeplin. This is something we will look forward to continuing every year — now a Zeplin tradition! We’ve received great feedback from the crew that we’ll take with us into next year's planning and beyond. See you again next year for another fun Hackathon!
Want to learn more about Zeplin? Access our About Us page, or see a list of our open roles.