Blend Hackathon: Olympic Edition

bailey“Hacking Bailey” Credit: Jason Hu, Blend Software Engineer

On your mark, get set, Rio! A couple of weeks ago we had another two-day Hackathon at Blend Headquarters in downtown San Francisco. As long as it incorporated “the Olympic Spirit,” any project was fair game. There were 50 people from across the company making up 14 teams and collectively putting in close to 1,000 hours into their projects.

So why do we make this ongoing investment?

Team Building: Under extreme conditions (aka our collective lack of sleep and competitive spirit), people produced some cutting-edge projects?—?most of them housing- and mortgage-related but not all! The teams were diverse in both age and domain experience: Blend employees and interns, sales and engineers, product managers and recruiting. Indeed, we find hackathons a great way to preserve that small company feel here at Blend even as we rapidly grow.

A Part of our DNA: We can’t help ourselves: we love to design and build stuff. Mary Lou Retton, the famous American gymnast from the 1984 Olympics, once said: “For athletes, the Olympics are the ultimate test of their worth.” And while it’s not necessarily a physical feat, the Hackathon provides a stage for people to demonstrate their design and engineering prowess in pursuit of a solution to some gnarly challenge while letting teams explore and test new ideas in a fun, low-risk environment.

Some Blend Hackathon Projects

If you buy a home today, you will likely spend hours, if not days, submitting documents for your mortgage application. To save lenders and borrowers valuable time, Team Updog created a bulk document uploader which ensures that submitted documents contain the information required to complete the application.

ian“Team Updog Hard At Work” Credit: Will Charczuk, Connectivity Engineering Lead

Mortgages are painful and slow. That is why Team Milkshake developed a whimsical and interactive Olympic swimmer dashboard experience to help loan officers identify and assist borrowers struggling to fill out their mortgage applications.

milkshakeTeam Milkshake’s interactive dashboard enabling loan officers to track individual borrower application progress

Another team took a stab at a problem that Blend constantly faces: how do we up our swag game this time? Team Raisman raised our swag stakes by building a screen printing press. By the end of the day, the Blend logo could be found on anything from tote bags to posters to T-shirts, with high-quality color matching.

raisman“Team Raisman demos its screen printing press” Credit: Ian Lyons, Borrower Engineering Lead

We say it often, but Silicon Valley has for the longest time ignored the challenges facing the mortgage industry and consequently the challenges many American families face when looking to purchase a home. While some of the projects built during the Hackathon may never actually go into production with our customers, it is still a great way to reignite and demonstrate our company’s resolve and commitment to solving the great American mortgage challenge!

Nivi Jayasekar is an Engineering Lead at Blend where she leads platform development of lender tools and integrations.