Intern Hackday - The Runway for the Adventures of Scissorsfly

July 2, 2013

The authors of this article are Guan Wang, Xiangnan Kong, Yuchen Zhao, and Tongbo Luo. They are the Cofounders of Yuchen Zhao will represent the team as a judge for LinkedIn’s 2013 Intern Hackday.

We were interns at some of the coolest tech companies in Silicon Valley, and we are amazed how much that experience changed our lives. It also inspired us to create own company.

No matter how challenging it seems to be, any opportunity takes a lot of work, followed by more hard work. The LinkedIn Intern Hackday is a perfect opportunity to practice those skills. We are thankful that LinkedIn created the right atmosphere to bring Bay Area tech talent together, set the stage for these hackers to showcase some amazing products, and somehow even planned the right timing for great friendships to take place.

`We intended to challenge our own creativity and endurance to be on the hackday stage, against perhaps the best and brightest peers. It wasn’t easy being in front of celebrity judges such as Ben Zhao, Rashmi Sinha, Manu Kumar, Pamela Fox, and Rahul Vohra. A challenge at this level usually inspires novel ideas that may not be surfaced otherwise.

Coming up with the idea
We had many random ideas when we were brainstorming; most of which were not that exciting and by the end we were exhausted. Just as we were about to give up, one of us screamed "I wish I could tear this webpage up as I did with my old newspapers, and just throw them away". We laughed at him. But all of a sudden we realized that if the torn up webpages could be collected, instead of thrown away, it would be something realistic that people actually wanted to use. “We can create a pair of crazy scissors that make clippings from webpages and put them away in an online scrapbook”, someone spelled the idea out loud. "Oh, this could be a million dollar idea!" The rest immediately cheered up. "I wouldn't sell it for just a million..." There were imaginations, laughter, discussions, and celebration at that moment. Who would have known that exact moment was the start of our company and that only a few months later it would change the way thousands of people engaged with the web.

At the Hackday
The essence of the LinkedIn Hackday is to make the impossible possible. Every intern hacker pushed themselves to an extreme, given the time limit and intimidating talent in the room. We thought 24 hours would not be enough to build anything that would work, unless we had clear milestones. We split the team up with specific jobs and let the right person focus on the right thing. We kept encouraging each other when we felt burned out, and supporting each other when technical challenges popped up. Finally, the 24 hours was just enough time to produce a great demo. The final presentations were amazing - hundreds of people had built interesting and cool ideas, and we showed hundreds of people or own project with pride. Ultimately, our Hackday project took first place!

Taking the Plunge
LinkedIn-ers say "Next Play" when a milestone is accomplished. What was our next play? How about shipping our code and letting the world use it? We’d need to start a company for that. “So let's start a company”, we said without knowing anything about doing a startup. But that's the fun part. And that's how we started Scissorsfly, a startup that helps people organize the web in their own way.

The hackday mindset has enabled us during our ongoing adventure to build We know how to get motivated, focus, collaborate, design, implement, test, and iterate all over again. We have been growing individually as Scissorsfly is growing as a company. In less than a year, our startup is serving thousands of people from 25 countries and helping them organize their online content on a daily basis. The four of us are doing that with 0 startup experience, 0 investment and 0 public attention, but with 5120 repository commits, 289 task tickets, 27 big arguments, 25 sleepless nights, 13 milestones, and 1 goal. The goal is to make people’s life easier and happier when they are organizing information online. This is something we believe has disruptive power.

We know there are lots of hurdles and big players with similar ideas such as Pinterest, Evernote. We know better though - that Scissorsfly is something very different and we are not afraid of these challenges. And guess why? Our determination and courage was boosted at the Intern Hackday.

Experiences with great memories become a treasure to cherish for years. Intern Hackday is definitely one of these experiences. As former Intern Hackday participants, we are eager to see this year’s exciting projects at this year’s Intern Hackday, Return of the Intern.

A Few Hackday Tips

  1. Team up with developers from diverse backgrounds. Think BIG and think early.
  2. Get familiar with techniques you need before the hackday begins. You may not want to teach yourself Javascript or PHP at the event. Learn new techniques before you get started.
  3. Check out previous Hackday projects and get inspired.
  4. Do research online and learn from other posts:
  5. Be prepared to push yourself to the limit, but always remind yourself that you are the best and can always improve.

Looking forward to seeing you at the LinkedIn Intern Hackday this year! Code hard, have fun, and enjoy probably the most productive 24 hours of your life! :)