More than 100 people gathered for 24-hours Friday in Rogers, Ark., to brainstorm and develop cutting-edge technologies.
Rockfish Interactive hosted a Hackathon in its Northwest Arkansas offices as well as offices in Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, Little Rock and Cincinnati. Between those locations another 100 people were banging away on their keyboards coding.
“We’re going back to our roots,” said Bill Akins, vice president of client services.
It’s been 7 years since Rockfish Interactive opened its doors in Northwest Arkansas. The company has grown from a handful of employees led by Kenny Tomlin to 85 full-time employees in a handful of cities. The company designs and builds websites, mobile applications, microsites, e-commerce sites, widgets, social media and enterprise solutions. The company has a list of Fortune 500 clients.
“We started out as a bunch of really smart programmers wanting to make cool stuff and this event is part of our culture,” Akins explained.
The Hackathon took place virtually among the cities listed above with 10 teams working on 15 ideas. They worked through the night Friday into Saturday afternoon. The teams collaborated to learn emerging technologies and created forward-thinking digital products.
“Google gives their employees one day off to create, this is our answer to that to take off the shackles of budget and clients involved and push the envelope in technology,” said Akins.
Not only will the clients of Rockfish Interactive benefit from the all-nighter but the company also gains. The employees often learn new skills and are exposed to different tools. Rockfish Interactive clients will benefit from the innovation because no money has been invested in the idea.
“It will be cost effective for the clients and the clients can bring these ideas into their projects if they want,” said Akins.
It’s not bad for the employees. They get to dial back to their youth with an all-night code session and if their project is chosen among the internal judges as one of the best projects, there are prizes.
Akins was vague on the nature of the rewards but it is a technology company and passing out the latest devices as incentive wouldn’t be a strange guess.
The top three projects were judged on innovation and marketability.
“They will be judged on how the project pushed limits in technology and how to apply technologies in a different way,” said Akins.
For example, how can Apple’s Siri be used different. The intelligent personal assistant and navigator uses natural language user interface to answer questions make recommendations and perform tasks, but how can it be used differently.
Akins couldn’t give an exact percentage, but the majority of the projects explored will deal with mobile. Rockfish Interactive’s clients lean towards industries of retail, healthcare and consumer packaged goods.
Some clients submitted ideas to the Hackathon while other ideas came internally.
“There are 80 different programming languages under the building,” said Akins.
At the end of the 24 hours, the employees were holding up well. The presentations took place virtually between the cities and the winners were chosen. For proprietary reasons, the details of the projects were not released, but a future new app for from Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club or P&G may be a product of the Hackathon.