TrueHack #4 — Global impact

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George Davis, Product lead
9 Dec 2019
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  • George (Product Manager in the Payments team)

As a new TrueLayerista, falling on my 10th week at TrueLayer, the hackathon was another TrueLayer tradition I was yet to experience. Having attended hackathons before, and even forming my first startup at one, I had some idea of what to expect, but I had no idea about the talent that was about to be showcased.

  • Lakshmi (Machine Learning Engineer in the Data Platform team)

I have participated in a few hackathons as a student, but this was my first professional hackathon. Having recently joined TrueLayer, I was very excited to work with people with whom I haven’t worked before from different teams and backgrounds. With everyone participating, this was a great opportunity for me to engage with colleagues from across the business and build stronger relationships personally and professionally.

The brief

This year’s theme was Global Impact 🌎. With TrueLayer’s massive global expansion across Europe and APAC in action, this was the perfect topic for us. One of TrueLayer’s core principles is to “think big” in everything we do, and this mindset is key for succeeding in the hackathon. Our mission was to form teams of 4–6 people and build something that had a global impact in 30 hours. Each team would then be granted 10 minutes each to present their project, competing for a series of undisclosed prizes. We were encouraged to work with colleagues from across the business, not our usual teams, and build something we were excited about.

The flight plan 👩‍🚀


The week before the hackathon was more intense than the hackathon itself. High levels of secrecy, sneaky conversations in unbooked meeting rooms, truehackers jumping teams at a moments notice… the atmosphere was one of anxious anticipation. I’ve never seen Luca, our CTO, as engaged with marketing materials in the office as he was with the Soviet camaraderie themed Hackathon posters and banners hung around the third floor.

As the hackathon approached, the TrueHack slack channel was growing fast and JenniferBot 🤖, one of last year’s projects, was activated to send motivational responses to all of the TrueHackers. Teams were forming and it was becoming clear that engineering resources were a rare and valuable commodity for each team, bribery was not off the table — this was a game of survival of the fittest and team founders were determined to survive.

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Part of our brief was to work with colleagues from all over the business and so, as a product manager, I was determined to work with people from both engineering, where I normally work, and operations. Our team was formed from Customer Success, Sales, Engineering and Product and we set our sights on providing insight to all data across the business in one simple format, removing silos of data and encouraging decisions driven by a single customer overview. However, the hardest part was yet to come — we had to decide what to show, how to show it, and where to pull the data from. It was definitely the right time to introduce Trello to the planning…


The energy and excitement in the week before the hackathon was infectious. Everyone was competitively probing other teams, arranging top-secret meetings 🤫 and pitching their ideas. The mission was to find a team to join.

Non-engineering colleagues (one from Talent Acquisition and another from Biz-ops) and an engineer contacted me to join their team. After listening to their first idea, I immediately agreed to join them. Then, It was time to find another two engineers. As TrueLayer is growing at a crazy rate, we decided to approach some new TrueLayeristas and successfully recruited two new members. Now we were a team of 6.

With our A-team formed, we created a secret slack group, met a few times before the hackathon to discuss everyone’s proposal and voted multiple times to finalise the project. After finding other teams with similar ideas, we decided to go with our backup plan.

3..2..1.. take off 🚀

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Project Prometheus had launched and the atmosphere transformed from anxious anticipation to excitement (and slightly stressed). We stole a whiteboard and guarded our desk area before the starting bell and, with the soothing and goliardic tones of the USSR national anthem playing over the Sonos in the office, we began.

Secrecy was suddenly out of the window, teams were formed and ideas weren’t changing. Whiteboards as far as the eye could see, intense architecture conversations in every corner of the floor, it’s safe to say we take hackathons VERY seriously. Most decided to set up camp on the top floor, rather than splitting across the building, making it feel busy and exciting. There was a sense of urgency for every team, suddenly realising that 30 hours isn’t very long, and the Red Bull delivery was long-awaited.

Come 11pm, on day 1, hackers were starting to book out meeting rooms for a couple of hours of sleep in the early hours of the morning. The next morning the groups of dedicated TrueHackers that had stayed the night got a much-needed morale boost from those that had gone home to sleep and a healthy dose of Red Bull. The finish line was in sight and so my team focussed and managed to deliver our project two hours before the deadline, giving us time to perfect our pitch which, if I do say so myself, was comedy gold.

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Our hackathon project, Project Cupid, ended up going with a fun idea for a dating app that found similar profiles/matches based on transaction history. We started the first day with a filling breakfast at around 10am.

At this stage, we had a rough idea of what was required to create a Minimum Viable Product. Generating fake transactions data, a website to sign up and backend support for it. The four engineers split into groups of two with the first working on the front end and the second working on the backend. Our teammates from Biz-ops and Talent Acquisition were helping us in designing the website, preparing data, gathering profile pictures, creating presentation etc. On the one hand, we were working on the project very seriously. But on the other hand, we had a lot of fun by taking fake candid pictures, convincing people to sign up on our website and sharing hilarious features to add to the website.

It was an amazing experience working with these bright minds. It was fun and good learning when you have to present your work in such a small amount of time. I was impressed by the creativity, enthusiasm and collaboration of my team. Each one of us put a lot of effort and passion into the project with only one thing in mind: winning.

Smooth (ish) landings 🛬

At 4.30pm on Day 2, Friday, the frantic hacking stopped, keyboards down, whiteboards cleared — it was time to pitch. The whole company gathered on our bleachers ready to listen to 9 awesome pitches.

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The teams:

  • 📈 TrueDasherz — Improving our CTO’s life quality with an interactive, scalable and reliable dashboard system hosted on Raspberry Pi’s and controlled from Slack.

  • 🎯 Cool Aggregation — Scraping public data to build an actionable list of potential outbound sales targets.

  • 🗺️ Risk — A map of TrueLayer’s world domination populated by our logs.

  • 🏦 Ocean’s 6 — FakeLayer (RUNNERS UP)- Fake is the new true: Scaling mock bank.

  • 📍The Convertibles — Helping prospects to land on the right page.

  • 🌐 Connectivity (RUNNERS UP) — Connecting Singles around the world using TrueLayer’s APIs. 😍 It’s a match!

  • 🔱 Prometheus (WINNERS) — Giving the gift of data-driven decisions to TrueLayeristas across the globe with a single customer view.

  • 💕 Project Cupid — Matching similar profiles depending on transaction history.

  • ☮️ Karma — Pay later with the TrueLayer.

The prizes

  • 1st Place — an all-expense-paid trip to Europe for the entire team

  • Runners up — an all-expense-paid Premium Night out for the team

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Winner: Team Prometheus
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Runners up: Ocean’s 6 Fake Layer and Connectivity
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