EUvsVirus Hackathon Experience

9 May, 2020
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Burn Midnight Oil; Gulp an Espresso at 2 AM; Satisfaction of Creating Something: Story of a Hackathon

What is the goal of a hackathon? Wikipedia best puts it across as– “The goal of a hackathon is to create functioning software or hardware by the end of the event”. It spans over a weekend and collaborates various discipline of technical people like coders, designers, architects, business-brains, mentors etc. It’s hard work if you come to think about it. One big challenge will be to get the relevant heads together – different people from multiple spheres gather together for a weekend – and then get to work as a well-oiled machine. Then comes the issue of fatigue, the team has to produce a solution/system from scratch by working 72 hours non-stop. Although, it’s FUN!

Empeal participated in the ‘EUvsVirus’ hackathon. As the name suggests, the task was to build a product that can handle the COVID-19 situation in EU and provide a solution to address the immediate issue as well as suggest a long-term solution that can reduce the spread of such pandemics in the future. The timeline provided was Friday 9AM to the following Monday 9AM.

And we begin by: losing our Friday to sheer pressure of regular work – not a wise thing but this happens when you chase deadlines every moment. No excuses, we pick ourselves up on Saturday morning and get to design. Empeal’s existing solution provides a long term view but we need to merge that with a short-term, instantaneous solution. It was a hackathon across the whole of EU, therefore getting cohorts to collaborate, as expected, proved to be quite a challenge. So after designing the solution we set off on our own – a geographically diverse team spread across Ireland and India, with a mentor from Spain, 3 different time zones. If you talk of ‘Distributed-Agile’, there couldn’t be a better example.

We had the product created and delivered 4:30AM on Monday morning – still more than 4 hours to spare. That was quite a sprint!

Few of our memorable moments during this short journey were, COVID-19 cluster heat-map of Ireland appeared in San-Francisco Bay area! Realised you can get ready-made doctor’s prescription on Internet without any trouble at all – why do we have GP’s? Do you want a blood-test report that suits your need? it’s available on the web! What was most memorable, was our CEO’s video pitch. Although, it is a known fact that Make-Up helps, keeping a smiling face at 11PM after 2 days work is a daunting ask. But at the end: all the pieces merged and our solution was submitted. We got our badges from the EU and it was well taken. To our pleasant surprise, our work was well received in other parts of the world as well.


Personally the amount of caffeine that went in me in the 2 days is more than what I generally do over 2 weeks. But, I still managed to sleep Monday night!

P.S. We do not advice you consume caffeine even to stay awake and active!

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