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Plastiq HackDay 2021

It’s no mystery that taking time off can be good for your mental health, but it can also boost productivity and fuel innovation. At Plastiq, it is critical for us to keep reinventing and reimagining the financial technology space, so… we took a day off of our day-to-day business priorities. Yep, you heard it right, we took a day off. 

As one can imagine, it’s difficult to find time to put your daily work aside, but with that in mind, we hosted our first HackDay at the beginning of the new year as people were coming back from the holidays. There was no better way to start the year off than with this event. 

Plastiq’s HackDay was spearheaded by Eric Normant, VP of Engineering and Rahul Bhatt, a software architect. They champion Plastiq’s mission to change the way payers pay, giving them more flexibility regardless of what method of payment the recipient accepts. Plastiq is reinventing paying and to do so, we need to rethink the payment space. What better way to do that then taking a day off to hack?

While this event is typically an engineering festival, at Plastiq, the engineering team wanted to make it a company-wide event. Rahul says, “it is critical and important for us to keep reinventing and going into ‘experiment mode’.”This 3-day event proved to be the perfect opportunity for our employees to do what they love to do: innovate. 

The day started with a pitch party where employees gave their initial presentations and formed teams to rally around, and execute their idea, in a quick, 24-hours. The purpose was to encourage a culture of high ownership where everyone in the company has an opportunity to influence the direction of Plastiq’s product roadmap.

The energy at the kickoff meeting was palpable. All teams (sales, marketing, risk, customer service, etc.) were present and brought a unique view to customer pain points, opportunities, and ways to increase efficiency at Plastiq. If non-engineers had an idea, engineers jumped in to prototype the idea and put it into action.

In the Plastiq spirit, we used the problem-first approach. Essentially Rahul wanted the hackers to “fall in love with the problem,” then solve it.The ask for HackDay was purposefully very broad. In the spirit of keeping a big canvas, our hosts started with the generic agenda, “anything that can help Plastiq and our customers.” 

After the 24 hour “hack”, 13 concepts were presented to the whole company and judged by a diverse panel, coming from different departments in the company. Ideas broke out into two categories: internal and external customer facing.
While the goal was to create a working solution, some teams were even able to get their ideas out to customers to generate payments. In total, there were 13 teams that amazed the judges, making it hard to believe they only had a day.

After long discussion, the judges picked the top three in each category. 

Winners were announced the next day at the weekly all-employee meeting. 

After such an amazing response to this event, Plastiq decided to incorporate HackDay as a semi-annual event. Plastiq has high hopes for future HackDays, making each one more innovative than the last. Taking a day off to “hack” proved to be a success that drove innovation and collaboration from the whole company.

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