By Shayon Saleh, Software Engineer
Back in DoorDash’s earliest days, when the only employees were our three co-founders, the entire platform could be considered a “hack”: it featured a static website with a phone number where customers would call in to place orders. This skeleton team had few tools at their disposal beyond pen, paper, and elbow grease. Since then, we’ve grown a lot, but we’ve never forgotten how the greatest of ideas can come from humble beginnings.
Over the past couple years, DoorDash has been holding a hackathon once a quarter to give people the opportunity to work on ideas outside their normal day-to-day projects. Recognizing that good ideas don’t just come from those who push code, with our third hackathon we began opening up projects to the entire company, not just engineering. Since then, some of the most successful hacks have come from sources that would be traditionally be labelled as “non-technical.” Some of those projects include automated check-ins for Dashers, offering promotions by cuisine type, and better managing restaurants that receive high amounts of traffic.
Last week, we kicked off our 5th hackathon, “Hackathon V: The Empire Strikes Back”. This hackathon continued the tradition of being open to the entire company and, as you may have guessed, the theme was “Star Wars.” Engineering and Star Wars have always seemed to go hand in hand, from the impressive engineering feats done on the movie sets, to the futuristic vision of what technology could be like in the future, to those inspired to pursue careers into fields of science and technology.
So, of course, there were many droids, jedi, and even a sith lord, running around the office with lightsabers last week. Our trusty mascot even showed up ready.
As usual, we kicked off with breakfast – at a time many would consider more appropriate for lunch – while sharing ideas and forming teams. Throughout the next three days, we laughed, we cried, we broke things. But most importantly, we had fun building features that we ourselves wanted to see in our products. Some of the projects we hacked together over the 72-hour event include:
- Advanced group cart ordering, with new features to improve payment, checkout, and more.
- Improved documentation for our local teams
- A wooden map of North America outfitted with a Raspberry Pi and LEDs that indicate the current state of each of our markets
One important part of our hackathons is that there are no prizes. We don’t see hackathons as a place for competition, but rather as an opportunity to foster team bonding and forge new relationships with those we normally don’t have a chance to work with but are equally invested in seeing DoorDash be the best that it can be. That doesn’t mean there aren’t winners- some of the most solid ideas are already getting ramped up into product features. And many hack ideas from previous events – such as integrating chat into our customer service products – have gone on to become incredibly successful features in our products. When this happens, everybody wins: employees, dashers, merchants, and especially our customers.
Interested in DoorDash Hackathons? Check out our openings at doordash.com/jobs, you can.