The Hackathon

The Schedule

On the 28th of August, at 9 in the morning, 14 people from our Amsterdam office sat down at the breakfast table and enjoyed croissants and fresh juice while chatting about this and that. Shortly after, they’d be introduced to their next feat. The 2nd Starred hackathon was about to start. During the following 2 days, the participants would split into teams of four-to-five people and build an innovative integration with SmartRecruiters. We would show the fruits of our labor at the Hiring Success event in the form of a demo.

The Teams

Us employees could pick which team we wanted to be part of: the only pre-determined things were the tracks, track owners, and goals. 

The first track was: Build. Its goals were to develop the MVP for the SmartRecruiters Candidate Experience integration and take care of the whole integration planning.

The second team was: Acquire. This team was to define the value proposition, build a landing page for the integration, signal the presence of the latter on Starred’s website, generate ad creatives, other than merch and branding for the event. 

Finally, the third track: Retain. This team was going to manage customer on-boarding, long-term strategy, and research marketplace, profile the competition and identify the customer persona. 

Showing Our True Colors: Our Values, their Application, and the Element of Fun

If you’re familiar with our company, you’re well-aware of how we care about our 5 core principles. Which ones are they?

Starred’s 5 Core Values


We took this challenging event as an opportunity to grow professionally and have fun. This led to people taking on roles they don’t usually cover, which, alongside our values, resulted in an incredible output.

An example of this was well-represented by Arthur’s contribution. Arthur is our Senior Back-End Developer, who decided to join the Acquire (Marketing) team. His creative approach paved the way for easier identification of our targets for sponsored campaigns. This all happened thanks to knowledge outside the marketing sphere. The results? Arthur did the work that would’ve taken a sales employee three months in a little over 45 minutes.

Not only the temporary team change led to better results, but it also increased the morale and gave us all new bonding opportunities: we could get to know those colleagues we rarely work with a little more.

We also saw other behaviors that could’ve been attributed to our pillars. Arthur used “Take Ownership” by unburdening his team through unorthodox approaches and knowledge that was unbeknownst to the team. He also applied the value “Work Smarter” by automating repetitive tasks, which led to higher productivity.

Furthermore, the whole hackathon was based on the two values, “Embrace and Drive Change,” and “Building Together.” In fact, all the 14 participants embraced new opportunities, knowing that speed would’ve been a crucial element of the feat; they also had the courage to spark change and had the determination to develop their role through a team switch. Finally, since the effort was team-based, we took the opportunity to work with one another on the great ideas we had.

Winners and Results

We most certainly did not forget to have fun! The hackathon lasted for two days. We started on the 28th of August around 9 in the morning, and at 4 pm the following day, the three teams presented their achieved results.
At the end of the first day, as we usually do, we got some celebratory pizza on Starred to conclude the day with a smile and some chats. And at the end of the second, the Acquire team was elected as the winner, and we all celebrated with beers.
It was so inspiring and refreshing for the rest of the team to watch us at work, that we had several requests from other employees, asking to take part in the next hackathon. 

The Hackathon winning team: Acquire.
Andrea, Berta, Arthur, Ignacio, Elena, and Romina

The Outcome

What did we produce? Our project consisted of an integration that lets recruiters work on their Candidate Experience by simply automating feedback from their ATS, being, namely, SmartRecruiters.
As the solution is optimized for recruiters and HR professionals, it’s very user-friendly. Furthermore, it is an automated tool, and, therefore, requires minimal admin, all while avoiding human error.
It is customizable and scalable. And it also offers some peculiar perks. For instance, you can use custom URLs to redirect your respondents once they have filled in the form. Happy candidates? Redirect them to your Glassdoor page, where they can leave you a good review.

The Event: Hiring Success

On the 10th and 11th of September, SmartRecruiters held the event Hiring Success ‘19 EU in Amsterdam.
The 1500 attendants came from 31 countries, in order to “discuss the state of the recruitment industry and the shape of things to come.” They attended lectures by over 100 speeches by thought leaders and personalities with relevant positions in the industry.

The Event Schedule

The event was structured like so:
– Other than Starred, 18 other companies took part in the hackathon
– During the said hackathon, every company had to build a solution utilizing SmartRecruiters’ API
– The achieved solution was shared with the SmartRecruiters committee one week before the event took place
– Every company had a booth gave 2-minute-long demos to convince the attendants of the value of their solution
– The attendants were all attributed 1000 Wow-Points. The Wow-Points were the event’s play money, which the attendants used to invest in the competing company they liked the most

Mark, Marguerite, and Khizar representing the team at Hiring Success

The Most Interesting Remarks

Four people from our Amsterdam office represented us at the Hiring Success event. 

Precisely, our Founder/CEO Lars Van Wieren, Chief Revenue Officer Mark Berendsen, Customer Success Manager Marguerite Caycedo, and our Product Manager API & Integrations Khizar Naeem

Marguerite’s contribute was especially precious in interacting with the crowd and gaining as many Wow-Points as possible.
But most importantly, they allowed us to introduce ourselves to the crowd and listen to their needs.

Marguerite and Khizar ready for the demos


The questions we were asked, and the comments they directed at us were quite insightful:

Some of the most relevant comments and questions directed at us during the Hiring Success event

The Finale – Victories, and Learnings

Our answers must have been satisfying, as we were selected among the 3 companies who were invested in the most. We received the most Wow-Points, followed by Survale and Rhaegal.
Once on the stage, each company was allowed a 2-minute-long demo to present their solution in front of a jury.
The judges were: Geert-Jan Waasdorp – CEO at the Intelligence Group, Anna Brandt – Global Head of TA / Community OPS at Uber, and Hung Lee – Co-founder & CEO at Workshape.io.

When it came to Starred, our teammate Khizar showcased our results with a few seconds to spare, blowing the jury away.
The Starred integration was selected as the best competing solution for hiring success! 

Adriana, James, and Mo: the UK team watching the streaming of the final speech

After the happy announcement, the event was concluded by some feedback from Geert-Jan Waasdorp:

“This kind of tooling is a no-brainer for everyone in recruitment. It gives you instant feedback, and I loved the Glassdoor connection.”

Geert-Jan Waasdorp, CEO at the Intelligence Group



We’re very proud of these results, especially considering they’ve been achieved through our team-effort in less than two working days! 

Khizar holding our award

Other than for the clear victory at the Hiring Success event, the hackathon was an equal success. It was the second one we organized, and surely the second one of many more.
Our enthusiasm infected more and more of Starred’s employees and they asked to be able to join in during the next edition of the Starred hackathon. Our effort combined high productivity, bonding, and a generous pinch of great fun. What better ingredients for an explosive success?