Seven teams compete over 24 hours to design and build brand new features from scratch!

BotStock 2019 – Timely’s Convention of Innovation

On the 17-18th February, Timely held its first ever ‘BotStock’. A two-day event, where seven teams from our thirty strong product and tech crew, got together to design, build and present new and innovative ideas to an unrelenting panel of judges.

Timely is a remote-based company, meaning that we have the option to work from home, the office or wherever you find yourself with a solid Wifi connection.  We love the flexibility that remote work allows, but we also put a huge value on meeting in person, which is why events like BotStock 2019 are so important for us.

So why are we organising an intra-organisational competition of computing wizardry?

Our objectives were simple:

  1. Build relationships
  2. Push tech-boundaries
  3. Allow people to try their hand at other roles
  4. Build tech that we can actually incorporate into Timely

Here’s how we went.

Seven teams, seven projects

In the lead up to the two-day national, we invited all thirty competitors to suggest ideas of what could be built. These were narrowed down via a democratic vote, and the following suggestions would now become the focus of the event.

  1. Chatbot: A booking chatbot integrated with Facebook Messenger.
  2. SMS Marketing: Send bulk SMS to a variety of customer segments.
  3. Global Search: One search box that can pick-up anything across Timely.
  4. Staff Leaderboard: Monitor how staff are tracking towards their daily goals.
  5. Analytics iOS App: An iOS app that displays key business metrics.
  6. Mini Website 2.0: Upgrade the free one-page website customers get with Timely.
  7. Support Tools: An improved admin interface to streamline systems for our support team.

Each project is a fantastic and useful tool in it’s own right and they required our teams to explore new technology such as chat API’s, search tech and event hubs.

Pizza was a key element to getting the development going.

“Botstock was the first code day where I’ve believed in every single project- the quality of work overall was very high! Not to mention we had a huge amount of fun getting to know each other better.” – Keri, QA/Tester

Let The Games Begin!

After the opening ceremony, we kicked-off the games in Wellington, stationing ourselves at the BizDojo ‘arena’. Each team was equipped with nutritious brain food and everything necessary to shift their frontal lobe into overdrive.

By the end of day one, we saw great progress across the board. Most teams had written a few pages of code, presentations had been drafted and some even pushing into the early hours of the morning to try get a head of their fierce competitors – this didn’t go unnoticed.

At day’s close, the squad headed down to a boutique Japanese beer bar, while some iOS developers took full advantage of the diving platform down at Queen’s Wharf.

Day two had a deadline at midday, where all work had to have been completed, to leave time for presentations and the closing ceremony. There was a classic ‘The Block NZ’ style rush to make sure every last thing was finished and polished before diving into presentations.

Shortly after 12pm, the first of seven teams was to present their final product. In order to bring in some fresh outside perspective, we recruited two of our judges from outside of Timely. Firstly we had Brooke Roberts, Co-founder and CEO of Sharesies; Larissa Macleman, Founder of Salon Owners Collective; & our very own Jo Blundell, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Timely.

The judges paying close attention to the presenting team.

Who Reigned Supreme?

As selected by the judges, with no outside influence, the team that took the title of Botstock 2019, our first two-day international, was… Staff Leaderboard!

The judges decided that the ability for business owners to better track staff performance, and allow staff to easily monitor their own success, was the most powerful project which would ultimately enable business owners to motivate staff, increase sales and improve systems.

The ‘People’s Choice’ award, aptly voted by everyone across Timely, was awarded to Support Tools.

If you could please put your hands together for these two exceptional teams, they deserve it. (Applause can be posted in comments as emojis or onomatopoeia).

Where to from here?

After carrying out a technical review, we determined that the winning project Staff Leaderboard, will require a fair bit more heavy lifting to get it across the line. It’s now on hold. We’ve focused our attention on Admin Tools, which is now in development, as well as SMS Segmentation which had progressed nicely over the 2-day period.

Overall, out of seven different projects, we are now actively developing two of them, have one on hold, and the others in reserves.

Now for you, Timely customer or future Timely customer, which of these projects would you have picked for the number one spot?