Team Hack Day!

Team Hack Day!

I used Autopilot to craft a killer hackathon project kick-off that set us up for success. 24 hours later, we demo'ed a complete, complex technical project to a group of our friends across the globe. I made this video about the kick-off flows and this video demo'ing our creation.

For this 24-hour hack day, Matt and I teamed up with Andrey Pyankov, the creator of the Andy app (chatbot for english language learning) and other awesome things.

If you've every done a hackathon, you know the importance of the first few hours after group formation. This key period of  ideation, decision making, and delegation is key to the success of the project.

With only a total of 24 hours from kick-off to demo, I knew that we would need to hit the ground running with consensus on an idea, clear roles and deliverables. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I turned to my favorite tool for guaranteeing amazing starts to things: Autopilot.

Autopilot Makes it Possible

I created 3 flows for our kick-off: Initiate, Ideate, and Strategize.

By the end of Initiate we would share an understanding of the why behind our hackathon project. (22 min)

By the end of Ideate we would have decided on exactly what we would be building. (48 min)

By the end of Strategize we would know exactly how each team member would would contribute and what they would be responsible for delivering when. (28 min)

These are things that normally take much longer than ~1.5 hours in total. With Autopilot guiding us through discrete, time bounded steps, the entire thing ran like clockwork, including the normally thorny process of consensus building.

Screenshots of the 3 flows I created for the hackathon kick-off.

What We Built

Our Initiate flow left us with the conclusion that we would like to build something that made our users feel a sense of "Wow, I can do that?"

During Ideate we settled on the idea of a simple mobile app for creating websites similar to the "linktrees" that people often post in their Instagram bios.

In Strategize we each took on roles. Andrey would be responsible for the mobile (expo react-native) backend. Matt would build the NextJS site serving up the users' completed websites. I would be responsible for styling and front end development across the board.

24 hours later we were able to demo a working LinkInBio app. It gives you a live personal URL by the time you finish onboarding, and it's dead simple to add links, a small bio and a photo to your page – everything contained in the typical "linktree". See a video demo here.

On the left, screenshots of the mobile app, on the right, the live rendered link site.


If you have a critical time constrained meeting, setting up an Autopilot flow for it ahead of time ensures you stay on task and get to everything.

I use this technique for calls with investors, team members, and even my girlfriend. Once everyone joins the Zoom, I announce that I want to play an Autopilot flow to facilitate our meeting and make sure we stay on track.

The flow plays, and we follow along. It allows us to have a facilitated conversation without one person having to be partially occupied as facilitator.

The only problem I have with this is that because I am the only person who can see the timer on my phone, others don't have as good of a sense exactly when Autopilot is going to interject, which leads to them occasionally getting cut off mid sentence.

To solve that, for this hack day kick-off I shared the kick-off flows with Matt & Andrey ahead of time. Then, on the zoom call I counted down: "3, 2, 1, start!" and we all pressed play on our flows at the same time. It's a bit of a hack, but hey, it's a hackathon 😛.