Sortly Culture

Inside Sortly’s First Hackathon

November 4, 2022 • 4 min read

In October 2022, Sortly held its first-ever Hackathon. For two days, Sortly’s global engineering team got to step away from their day-to-day responsibilities and come up with innovative ideas to improve the Sortly platform. It was an opportunity for our engineers to stretch their creative muscles and generate complex solutions to evolve the Sortly software for our customers. The first annual Hackathon was super productive, collaborative, and—best of all—fun. Here’s a look inside Sortly’s first Hackathon.


Sortly’s first Hackathon: why now?

As Sortly continues to expand and attract more types of customers, CEO and Founder Dhanush Balachandran thought it was the perfect time to hold the first annual Sortly Hackathon. “Hackathons are a great way to encourage taking risks and galvanize creative problem-solving,” said Dhanush. “Our engineers blew me away with their innovative solutions for our customer problems.”

The Hackathon allowed Sortly’s engineers to deep-dive into how our product can better serve our customers. Beyond simply improving the software, our goal was to expand and enhance what our customers can do in the software and help them further streamline how their team tracks inventory. This means everything from launching brand-new features in the Sortly app to refining our current features to make them just a little better. 

Another reason for the Hackathon was to foster big-picture ideas that might otherwise get lost in daily work. As Sortly is a globally distributed, remote team, we must intentionally create and cultivate those “water cooler conversations” and collaboration opportunities.

Above all, the Hackathon helped showcase and celebrate the talent of Sortly’s brilliant engineering team—and they did not disappoint!

According to Head of Engineering Gopi Krishna, “The goal was to provide a platform for our engineers to showcase their innovative ideas for the product. I was blown away by the variety of innovative ideas and the quality of the implementation in just 48 hours! Our judges were super impressed and had a tough time selecting the winning teams.”


How the Sortly Hackathon worked

The Hackathon featured 16 engineers and 11 teams. Each team generated their ideas and developed their projects in 48 hours, which also required support from Sortly’s product team. Each presentation was about 5 minutes long, with time for questions at the end. The goal was simple: find ways to meaningfully improve the Sortly platform. CEO Dhanush Balachandran as well as representatives from our Product and Customer Experience teams judged the presentations across three categories: customer impact, innovation, and demo/presentation quality.

The Sortly engineering team generated lots of excellent ideas to improve the platform, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • Workflows, a brand-new feature that would allow Sortly customers to build custom steps to their inventory tracking and operations processes in the software. Workflows allow process automation by performing actions within the system (or an external system) based on events within Sortly.
  • Ability to add and edit items in bulk, which would refine our current bulk upload feature for new customers and allow all customers to add new items in bulk. This is especially useful for customers tracking large volumes of inventory and/or those who add new inventory daily.
  • Rich notes field, which adds rich-text formatting to Sortly’s existing item notes field. This would allow for formatting such as bulleted lists, bolding, and highlighting text, making it easier for customers to showcase the right information about their items at a glance.
  • Ability to @ mention other members in notes, which would allow customers to tag each other in notes field comments. This feature would integrate with email and in-app notifications, allowing large teams to communicate more effectively directly within Sortly.


Creating a better customer experience through automation

Automation and operational efficiencies were front and center in the Hackathon projects. “The two-day hackathon was great. Every project was executed very well. I loved how the overarching theme of most projects was to improve the customer experience,” said Lead Engineer Abhilash Meesala, who led one of the winning teams. “These automations enable customers to codify their business processes, resulting in fewer human errors and greater operational efficiency.”

The Hackathon allowed Sortly engineers to get creative and put themselves in the shoes of customers. “We started with thinking over a small idea and ended up creating a new feature for helping our customers to communicate with their team members,” said Backend Developer Maria Kachusova. “Hackathon is an awesome opportunity to bring ideas to life, and I’m happy we made the most of it!”

The best part about Hackathon? It gives us actionable improvements to include in our next engineering sprint. We’ll be building these additional features into the Sortly platform in the near future—and we can’t wait to hear from our customers about how they’ve improved their daily inventory processes.

Sortly is a SaaS company that helps businesses streamline and modernize every aspect of managing inventory, materials, and equipment. Learn more about Sortly’s mission and browse our open roles.