Newfront Provides Creativity and Innovation Outlet through Regular Hackathons
By Aaron Forth | Published November 19, 2021
Having just completed an internship at tech behemoth Microsoft, Software Engineering Intern Vatsa Patel wasn’t quite sure what to expect at Newfront, a rapidly growing brokerage and technology firm. He was pleasantly surprised when, on his first day, he learned that Newfront would sponsor a hackathon for its technology team members later that month.
“Hackathons seem to be a norm at large, tech-focused companies,” said Vatsa, who will earn a Master’s degree in Computer Software Engineering next month from San Jose State University. “But knowing that Newfront is still growing and had recently gone through a merger, I didn’t expect to get the opportunity to participate in one here.”
Vatsa joined more than 20 team members to participate in Newfront’s first Hackathon as a combined company. As we work to transform the insurance industry, providing outlets for our technology team members in the engineering, design, product management, and IT space to exercise their creativity and ingenuity is a priority.
“Hackathons are a great way to empower developers to showcase creative product ideas that are not part of the company’s product roadmap,” says Alex Levine, Software Architect. “Without hackathons, engineers would not have time to work on these types of projects which often lead to new innovations that ultimately get added to the product.”
Alex and Vatsa both worked on the Hackathon’s winning solution, which was decided on via a vote after each team presented. Here’s a brief recap of a few projects that our incredible talent developed:
The winning solution focused on continuously updating client data, allowing our company to keep up to date on a client’s current exposure risk. By connecting an external payroll data provider, the team was able to leverage this integration to automatically detect any changes and to trigger the appropriate response by our company.
Another popular project was a way system for notifying users as soon as a new version of our software is released. This gives our users the ability to instantly refresh the tool and have the newest features and improvements right away.
This solution brought our code deployment process directly into Slack! Now when ready to deploy a service, an engineer simply types a command into Slack, the system prepares the deployment, and all other engineers who have code waiting to be deployed are notified. Ready to go? Just add a special emoji to the post and your release is on its way to production!
To celebrate the end of a successful Hackathon, the team attended a virtual escape room event, which allowed some relaxation and additional competition as a group.
“The hackathon was an opportunity I just couldn’t miss – an opportunity to work on a new project and with people I don’t usually work with,” Vatsa said. The team is already looking forward to the next hackathon event!
Chief Product Officer
As Chief Product Officer, Aaron Forth owns the company’s product strategy. He leads our product management and design teams while partnering closely with engineering to help Newfront build amazing products and services for our clients. Aaron has made his career working with emerging technology in the Silicon Valley area for the last 25 years. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and three kids and holds a degree in Earth Science from the University of California at Berkeley. In his spare time, Aaron can generally be found outdoors being active.