24 hours to build a moat: inside TrueLayer’s annual hackathon

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Isabella Morris, Junior Brand Copywriter
27 Jan 2023
Truehack's castle logo

It’s a yearly tradition at TrueLayer: come together to build something cool in 24 hours or less. 

Our annual hackathon, TrueHack, gets people from across teams (and sometimes countries) into the London office to meet up, think big, eat pizza and face off. All in the hope of winning some great prizes.  

This year’s theme: Be Moaty. In other words, make something which could add value that compounds over time. Read on for each team’s perspective.

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TrueLayerista: Ben Tinson, Product Marketing Manager
Team name: The Emerald’s Guards
Hack: Blink – lets your users pay instantly, anywhere, with payment links

In the run-up to my first TrueHack, I hadn’t had a chance to think much about it, until I was thrown into a team of high-energy TrueHack experts.  

Led by a three-time winner, the pressure was on to go for gold once more.

Everybody should know that a killer hackathon idea is only 50% product – the other 50%, story.

You might think that if you’re not technical or design-minded, a hackathon isn’t for you. But everybody should know that a killer hackathon idea is only 50% product – the other 50%, story.

So, I found my happy place working on a strong narrative which might just stick in the minds of the poor audience who were going to have to sit through 15+ presentations.

Navigating the chaotic TrueHack challenges throughout the night, as well as losing a team member mid-way due to illness, our team rallied on to pull together a great product and a memorable presentation.

We didn’t quite secure a 4th win for our team lead, but we went home with a commendable top 5 place.

TrueLayeristas from all across the business took part in our sixth annual hackathon in London.

TrueLayerista: Laura Fabian, Finance Manager
Team name: Moat or Head
Hack: Payout+ (using data to improve the payouts experience)

As someone who works in Finance I thought I might never be involved in a hackathon! Thankfully at TrueLayer anything is possible. Myself and a colleague Laura recruited the best and brightest from TrueLayer, with no idea in mind. 

And after the first two hours, we finally landed on our idea – using data to provide a better payouts experience.

I’ve always wanted to be in a hackathon and I would be in 100 more. We worked together and apart, we delegated tasks to those suited and worked as a team to not only get a presentation ready but make sure we were always thinking about the theme. 

Our designer came up with legendary designs that were later used by our CTO in Slack. It was great to see all the skills we have in the company being used in realtime over 24 hours! I can’t wait for next year’s hackathon.

TrueLayerista: Alexandru Lighezan, Senior Software Engineer
Team name: Mario’s Cart
Hack: The open banking credit card

This was my second hackathon at TrueLayer, and just like last time, it was incredible to be part of – seeing so many people from different parts of the business come together and execute on such a variety of ideas was inspiring.

The hosts were also amazing at entertaining and kept things fun with all sorts of challenges and games.

This year our team decided to build a solution for open banking credit. You only have 24 hours, so building a working product is fairly challenging. But we knew this wouldn't be enough on its own, so we also came up with an amazing design (Super Mario-themed) and a one of a kind presentation involving some wild costumes! 

It was a memorable experience, and just like last year, I was impressed with the quality of the demos from all the teams that took part. The hackathon is always a great reminder of just how much can be achieved when people come together and work effectively as a team.

TrueLayerista: Isabella Morris, Brand Copywriter
Team name: Negroni Raptors 
Hack: Peer-to-peer payments app powered by open banking 

By the time it got to 1am, most of us were more than ready for sleep. Our team stayed in the office till midnight — we were the only full team who stayed that late — mocking up UI, drafting UX copy, and running code over and over again to make sure it all worked.

We were running on fumes, mini cakes and caffeine. I couldn’t tell you much about the details of the actual engineering involved in our project. But I did help out with writing, presentation building, and snack eating.

The end result looked great, if we do say so ourselves. And in the end, we scored second place — with help from a super slick brand design, a cool custom keyboard, and a heroic “best meme” win (Firas told me to mention that part).

TrueLayerista: Ollie Cousens, Senior Product Manager
Team name: M.W.A (Moaty with Attitude) 
Hack: Conversion optimiser and custom workflow builder

As winter’s bite started to take hold in London, TrueHack 6 arrived. The office roared into life with people from all over Europe. Given the reputation surrounding the hackathon, I had already spent a few sleepless nights thinking about what to do.

With a plan in place, it was time to get (The) A-Team together. Fortunately, there are many of these teams at TrueLayer, so we quickly assembled our Avengers (called M.W.A) and got to work on saving the world from the shackles of Mastercard and Visa.

It’s remarkable watching the speed at which an idea evolves into an end-to-end solution in the space of less than 24 hours – and a testament to both everyone’s ability and the team’s togetherness.

By now the sun had set and risen again, and everyone’s presentations were fresh off the printer. From Mario Kart outfits to carrot throwing, you had it all.

But, it turns out that our innuendo-laden presentation delivered the knock-out blow and we came away with first prize – a week’s holiday in Europe.

Victory aside, it was the best hackathon I’ve ever experienced and a huge thanks to this year’s organisers for putting on such a show.

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