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Life at Toast Blog

Hacking for Innovation

Toast Careers


This week, Toast is hosting our 21st Hackathon!


Hackathons are a Toast time honored tradition. Twice a year, Toasters around the world are able to come together to innovate on projects outside of their normal work streams. We truly believe that the most innovative and impactful ideas come from the front lines, and we love giving Toasters the opportunity to dedicate time to thinking outside of the box.


Jane M., Senior Director, Product Management, has been instrumental in organizing, promoting, and facilitating our Hackathon. Jane remarked that the heart and energy behind Hackathon is something that keeps her excited about all that we’re doing.


“Hackathon is a day where Toasters across the entire company come together to innovate on our products, processes, and culture. There are no guardrails; people can create whatever they want,” Jane reflected. “It’s a day to set aside our typical work streams and get creative—no meetings to attend, and no calls to take. This is all about innovation and fostering connections across the company. The projects that are the most fun are the ones where we see people cross organizational boundaries to solve a problem together, or develop something together.”

 


Traditional hackathons tend to be engineering focused, but we encourage an expansion of that creative thinking and innovation. While many of the hacks will be centered on our product suites, we also have teams working on projects related to our culture and internal processes. We’ve had hacks focused on everything from our customer login page, mini office remodels, and some of our most impactful product launches, like our Kitchen Display System!

 


One of our most exciting hack categories was created in partnership with Toast.org. Each Hackathon includes an “Impact-athon” category, where Toasters are able to create something that will help move Toast.org’s mission forward. During our most recent Hackathon, the theme was “Hack-EARTH-on,” which focused on sustainable solutions and caring for the earth.


Kate B., Senior Program Manager, Onsite Amenities and Experiences, thinks about sustainability in our office spaces every day, so it made sense for her team to come together during this hack.


“Our hack was designed to minimize food waste through ordering. I work on large food orders daily, so minimizing waste is really important for my team,” Kate shared. “I have worked in hospitality for a long time, and my mind tends to gravitate towards how to support the efforts of restaurants and altruistic endeavors. This all fell right into the Hack-EARTH-on category!"


This year, the Impact-athon theme is “Hack against Hunger,” focused on ending hunger and food insecurity. Two winning teams in the Hack against Hunger category will each get to direct $2,500 in grant funding to a hunger eradication organization of their choice. 


“Hack against Hunger is a new theme in a long standing Hackathon tradition of innovation here at Toast,” Ani B., New Ventures Lead, Toast.org, said. “In this category, Toasters come up with ideas that could help those who are food insecure in our communities.” 


“It's just a matter of time before one of these exciting hacks is a product that creates a flourishing food system for people and the planet!” - Ani B., New Ventures Lead, Toast.org 


 

 


Once hacking ends, teams are invited to present their projects to a team of judges from across the business. 

 

Hackathon judging is based on three main areas:

1. Impact on the Toast community

2. Value added for our customers and our employees

3. Expression of creativity and innovation


In addition to enhancing our products or culture, Hackathon also gives us an opportunity to come together to learn from one another. Lucy M., Staff Software Engineer, is a hackathon pro, and a member of a recent winning team. Lucy loves how hackathons let you think in a new way with other teams across the business.


“Hackathon is exciting because you can combine both software and hardware into the hack,” Lucy shared. “It’s a time to stretch beyond your daily work and just order some electronic kits, push an app or SDK on to them, and get an idea working. The more outlandish the better! The goal isn't always a deliverable, but rather an exploration of what's possible. The thrill of that first moment when the Hackathon starts and the excitement with the team is everything!”


 


Hackathon embodies so much of what Toast stands for. It brings our mission to life by fostering a laser-focus on empowering those around us – whether it be our customers, our peers, or the greater local community.  We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere. We want all employees – regardless of team, level, or expertise – to know that they have a voice and to feel confident sharing their ideas with us. Sound like a culture where you’d thrive? Check out our open roles!

 

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