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Turning a Hackathon Idea into Stellar Workplace Transformation

27 September 2023 •

By: Maajidah Technology

Our decision to host a hackathon was driven by a shared desire for innovation, collaboration, and rejuvenation in our workplace. Hackathons offer a unique opportunity to bring diverse teams together for exciting, mind-stimulating projects. Our primary goal was to tap into our team's creativity, address a business challenge, and, above all, have fun while boosting morale and fostering creative thinking. Join us on the journey to creating Stellar, an employee recognition platform that transformed our workplace.


Why we decided to host a hackathon

We recognised that hackathons are like this are a great chance to bring team members from different corners of the company to team up on some exciting projects. The kind that's not just for fun but also gets those brain gears turning. So, our main goal here was to let our team tap into their inner creativity. Additionally, we aimed to address a specific business challenge by creating and deploying a new tool internally. Ultimately, the hackathon was about having fun, and encouraging creative thinking among our employees. (Not to mention all the sweets that were consumed!)

What we built in the end

At the end of the hackathon, we successfully unveiled Stellar, our innovative employee recognition platform, revolutionising how we show appreciation to our colleagues. Stellar has many user-friendly features which allows you to effortlessly send and receive Orbstars, which are tokens of recognition based on our company values. Stellar seamlessly integrates with Mattermost, our business messaging tool, for streamlined communication. This innovative platform has not only helped to improve our culture of appreciation but also strengthened camaraderie within our organisation.

Why we saw the need for Stellar

While our employees consistently delivered outstanding performance, we saw an opportunity for a structured system for recognising and rewarding their efforts. We believed that formal recognition would lead to increased happiness and productivity within the organisation. It was essential to emphasise that Stellar was not intended as a performance management tool; rather, it was designed solely for the benefit of our employees.


An overview of what happened over the hackathon weekend

Day 1: Shaping the Vision

On the first day of the hackathon, our team gathered to brainstorm ideas for the platform. We discussed potential names for the platform and how users could express their appreciation. We also selected a colour palette to match our vision. To lay the foundation for Stellar, we meticulously outlined the technology stack required to bring our project to life. We compiled a comprehensive list of features to ensure a seamless and engaging user experience. Additionally, we translated our ideas into a visual representation by creating a sitemap, giving us a clear view of how the platform's components would connect. Day one set a productive tone for the journey ahead, fueling our determination to make Stellar a reality.


Day 2: Turning Ideas into Action

We dedicated the second day to practical implementation. We began building the various components of Stellar, piece by piece. This involved creating new components and integrating existing ones through APIs to ensure smooth functionality. Simultaneously, we crafted designs to capture the precise look and feel we had envisioned. We also devoted time to refining the project's slogan, aiming to encapsulate its essence in a few impactful words. Day two marked the transition from ideation to tangible progress as we worked tirelessly to bring our innovative platform to life.


Technologies Used and Why


We chose Chalice as it enables rapid development and deployment of serverless applications in Python, perfectly aligning with our AWS Lambda-based approach.

RDS PostgreSQL Database:

Opting for a PostgreSQL relational database was essential due to the need for storing relational data efficiently.

Frontend (Vue.js):

We selected Vue.js for the frontend because of its lightweight nature and manageable learning curve, ensuring a smooth development process.

SSO OpenID Connect (OIDC):

To handle SSO for all employees, we adopted JumpCloud OIDC, as it seamlessly integrated with our requirements.

Notifications (AWS SNS/SES):

Although not yet integrated, we plan to utilise AWS SNS/SES for email notifications. Currently, notifications are sent via Mattermost using the Mattermost API and a bot account.


How we decided on the name and slogan

The name "Stellar" emerged from a brainstorming session, with one of the initial suggestions being "Local Celeb," a brilliant idea contributed by our Engineering Manager. On the day of the hackathon, different teams came together to assist with choosing a slogan that would encapsulate the essence of Stellar.


What happened at the launch party

The launch party for Stellar was a fun celebration of our achievement. Orbiters gathered to see the launch of the platform they had helped create, and the atmosphere was filled with excitement and anticipation as we showcased the features and functionalities of Stellar.

To add an extra touch of fun and creativity to the event, we had Stellar-inspired piñatas hanging around, adding an element of surprise. At the event, we gave a big shoutout to everyone who contributed to the hackathon and thanked them for their awesome work!


It was a memorable event that not only marked the official launch of Stellar, but also reinforced the sense of unity and appreciation within our organisation. The combination of innovation, recognition, and a touch of fun with the piñatas made it an unforgettable occasion for all who attended.

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27 September 2023
By: Maajidah

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