Culture and Organization
March 2, 2023
min read

Go Behind the Scenes of Mercari’s Go Bold Day Hackathon

Another Go Bold Day has come and gone. The speeches have been given and the awards have been handed out. This hackathon in the Mercari Product and Engineering Department is an exciting opportunity for Mercarians to explore other technical interests outside the ones designated in their official roles.

Mercari celebrated another successful Go Bold Day (GBD). Complete with bold ideas, captivating presentations, and even a special celebrity guest, this season’s hackathon was one that participants will never forget. Bringing together the Mercari Product and Engineering Department, GBD is an exciting opportunity for Mercarians to explore other technical interests outside their official roles. 

This year saw over 20 team submissions. GBD helps people to learn about themselves and their colleagues as they build toward their collective goals of presenting unique ideas. There is no process or approvals involved during the event. Here is a behind the scenes look along with some of the reactions from this year’s participants.

It Starts with a Single Idea

Even before the official kickoff of GBD there’s plenty of action and excitement. Mercarians are coming up with their ideas on how to keep the company moving forward. These ideas can be anything a team member wants to focus on. It doesn’t matter if it falls within their area of expertise or not. All that matters is that they are passionate about their idea and want to present it.

“I had been working on this pet project for a bit. I saw GBD as an opportunity to give it a finishing touch and promote the use case.” - Anurag Bharadwaj, Senior Software Engineer Delivery

I am also a Mercari user and think of new ideas while using the app, and GBD is a great place to try out our ideas as a developer with the help of other engineers from other domains. - Jagadeesh Duggirala, Software Engineer Android, React

Mercarians Assemble

Once they have a pitch concept they begin to assemble their teams. Ideas are shared across Slack and employees are able view each idea that will be presented and decide which team to join. Once they pick a team each member is able to bring their unique skill set to mapping out the pitch and idea. GO Bold Day and hackathons in general are all about encouraging passion for creative ideas and re-enforcing a strong sense of community. 

 I was so glad that I participated! The community aspect to it reinforces that GBD teams can be made up of anyone across the company - everyone can bring a unique point of view based on their experience and skill set.” - Michele Martin, Director of Community

The highlight for me was meeting & working with fellow Mercarians that I wouldn't normally be able to interact with too much. Seeing everyone's passion for improvement and willingness to work hard to showcase these ideas really makes me excited to be a part of the Mercari team. -Brian Ward, Software Engineer Backend

A Surprise at Kickoff

Hackathon kickoffs can sometimes be considered a bit of a bore. Featuring long drawn out speeches and corporate lingo, most attending lose interest before the initial idea presentations. Not at Mercari. Before the idea introductions, a special GBD Launch Cameo from Andy Buckley in full character as “David Wallace” from TV’s” The Office” made kickoff one of the most memorable moments.

Andy Buckley kicks off Mercari GBD with a Cameo

“Andy Buckley acting as David Wallace from TV’s ”The Office” was my favorite part. He was hilarious!”- Elizabeth Trambulo, Technical Program Manager

It’s Crunch Time

Once the ideas have been proposed and kickoff is over the fun can begin. The concept of using such a short window to deliver and the freedom to create something that is all your own can really get the juices flowing. The teams focus only on their ideas for those few days and nothing else.

“I'm always surprised with the amount of work that people can get done in just a two-day period. There are so many awesome engineering & non-engineering projects that the teams clearly put a lot of time & effort into their proposals.” -Brian Ward, Software Engineer Backend

“Every GBD I am surprised by how many creative projects there are. Not only are these great ideas but most of these are fully implemented, which is impressive for the teams to complete within just a few days.”- Elizabeth Trambulo, Technical Program Manager

And the Award Goes To…

After a few days of teamwork fueled by inspiration and caffeine it’s time to pitch. The excitement is palatable. Each team is given only 5 minutes to impress the judges and crowd with their presentation. Teams work right up to the wire putting their finishing touches on their concepts. Finally, the pitches are ready to be given. Everyone is hoping to win while simultaneously routing for their colleagues on other teams. The winning categories included Product Choice Award, Engineering Choice Award, Bold Pitch Award, and The Mercari Choice Award. 

Mercari GBD Trophy
GBD Trophy

“I really enjoy the three hours before the demos when you are hacking it up! There so are many awesome demos from the teams. Each one seemed to be a potential winner.” - Anurag Bharadwaj, Senior Software Engineer Delivery

“Last day presentations were my favorite part of the GBD hackathon. I loved to watch how those small ideas turned into features within a short time.” - Jagadeesh Duggirala, Software Engineer Android, React Native

“During the week of the GBD, there’s an excitement and energy that builds towards the pitch. It’s just as valuable to learn from the other pitches as it is to participate. It’s also a great way to practice your presentation skills, with the short window of time we have to share the idea.” - Michele Martin, Director of Community

Once the pitches are complete, the winners are announced and everyone gets to revel in their shared sense of accomplishment towards a common goal. Everyone brings their unique perspective on how Mercari can continue to grow as the marketplace for the everyday shopper and casual seller. 

So, if you have never joined a hackathon and you have the opportunity, give it a shot. Don't feel pressured for a perfect build or pitch. It's really a time to challenge yourself, to think and work outside your wheelhouse, and explore your interests, meet some new people, and most importantly Be BOLD!

Team Mercari