We asked students some tough questions at our latest hackathon. Could they hack it?

22 March 2019


Sophie Turnbull
Sophie Turnbull

What features would you add to Atom’s app to make it better, and what would they look like?

It’s a big question to answer in the space of two days - but it’s important to aim high. That’s why we used it as the central issue in our recent hackathon for local university students, which we ran with our friends at enterprise open source software company Red Hat.

Hackathon board

The work the students came up with certainly didn’t disappoint. Having mixed the students up, so that they were with a team that they didn’t know, we tasked them with addressing one of the following issues - with a cool £1,000 in Amazon vouchers up for grabs for the winning team.

  • If Atom offered enhanced functionality on savings accounts, what would this look like and how would it work in an app?
    • What new features would you add to the app to improve the experience for mortgage customers?
    • If Atom offered a children’s account, how could we make it stand out from other products in this market?

The groups were given two days to come up with their concept and present it back to a panel of judges on Wednesday afternoon. With a no-nonsense judging panel of Atom CEO Mark Mullen, along with top execs from Atom, experts from Red Hat, and leading academics from Durham and Northumbria Universities, they were well and truly thrown in at the deep end.

People from across the business at Atom dropped in over the two days, giving students the benefit of their expertise and advising on how to pitch to the judges. When the time came for the groups to present their ideas, we were blown away by what they had come up with, including a gamified children’s bank account and a mortgage account with a VR element.

Hackathon winners

There was a clear winner, however, with Team Banana presenting a working app prototype of their idea for a children’s bank account (which they had developed overnight!). It was a first-class effort, and the judging panel were universally impressed.

For us at Atom, it was a great opportunity to work closely with the students, passing on professional advice and, in turn, being spurred on by their energy and creativity. Given how well this hackathon seemed to go down with everyone involved, we can’t wait to run similar events with local universities in future - so watch this space!