If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. (Bruce Lee)

Recently, I participated in a hackathon. For those who have never heard about this sort of event: It’s basically a meeting of nerds who want to push their limits by combining new technology with sleep deficit and a lot of caffeine. The goal of the hackathon Symbioticon is to develop solutions to financial challenges in teams of three to six people.

I participated with four other software developers with a background in frontend, backend, and game development. This may sound like a strange combination, but it’s good to have people with a diverse background. I added a bit of experience with machine learning and natural language processing.

In the end, we developed a hybrid app for children who get in touch with their first bank account. It is influenced by the KNAX Club, which is popular among children. Essentially, the app allows children to check their bank account balance and monitor their ‘revenue’ from their pocket money and additional challenges they accomplish for their parents. I contributed by integrating the Ahoi banking API and speech synthesis from IBM Watson.

Overall, the hackathon was 31 hours of coding with just one short break for getting some sleep. It’s definitely a way for leaving the comfort zone and eventually for going beyond a plateau. We even had some time for not work-related stuff and participated in the mannequin challenge:

As a postscript: I wrote the text after our presentation, but before we actually received the notification that we have won the 2nd prize. Obviously, we were extremely excited about it and celebrated it in one of Frankfurt’s many Apfelwein Kneipen. Let’s stay tuned how our idea is going to develop. Even without the price, it was a great opportunity. With the price (and obviously the money that comes with it) it is even better.

Here comes an article in German about the Symbioticon from the IT Finanzmagazin.