Hackathon – Students ‘hack’ Tree Shepherd!

GREHacks, (hackathon) is a new scheme run by the University of Greenwich Generator that connects students with a range of exciting partner employers to solve live briefs in teams. Tree Shepherd put a number of teams to the test who came up with an amazing array of ideas  including a new website, mentor recruitment drive and social media strategy.

Students take part in expert workshops led by Foundervine to develop their skills in enterprise, consultancy, teamwork, networking and pitching. Foundervine is an award-winning social enterprise specialising in digital start-up and scale-up acceleration programs. Since launching in 2018, Foundervine has helped over 2,000 diverse, future leaders create, test and sustain entrepreneurial ventures globally.

It was organised by our intern Szabina Horvath, who tells us more…

Firstly, tell us, how did you get involved with Tree Shepherd?

I am currently studying Law at the University of Greenwich, in my final year and am doing a three months’ internship, but I am keen to continue even after I have finished. Everyone at Tree Shepherd is so helpful and it’s an inspiring place to work.

So what is a Hackathon?

It’s a chance for teams to come together to complete a set of challenges and tasks which can help a business or social enterprise. In this Hackathon it was over a weekend, with 8 teams of students involved. At the end they pitch their business solutions and a winner is chosen.

So tell us about the Hackathon, how were the students recruited?

We promoted it on social media, we had great take up from business students at the University of Greenwich, who were really interested. We shared it with our networks and all together over 50 people applied, and we then 40  were chosen for 8 groups.

What happened at the Hackathon?

The Hackathon was held on Zoom and the teams could use Slack to communicate as well. There was an explanation of what would happen during the day,  a numbers of speakers, and mentors were there to help the students. They then went through masterclasses in pitching and presenting, how to tell stories with conviction and confidence, and the students found it really useful. It was an amazing way to start the day! The students were then allocated to groups to complete a set of challenges.

What were the challenges you set?

We had different groups developing plans for our employment and economic support, how to expand our mentor base, how to redo the website, and creating a social media strategy. They then had to pitch and present to a set of judges.

How did the presentations go?

The teams were really good, they put a lot of work into it, they were enthusiastic and came up with some brilliant solutions. There was a great atmosphere.  One of the groups created a website for Tree Shepherd which was amazing to see, with a new layout and functionality. One of the groups was then crowned champion.

Who were the judges?

There were 4. One was Colin Crooks, our CEO,  then there was Paul Armfield from the University of Greenwich Employability Team and Ayo Awotona from Foundervine (Programme Manager)

Are there plans to do another Hackathon?

I am not sure at the moment, but we definitely would be interested in doing it again.

How did you find being involved in the Hackathon?

It’s very inspiring, on one hand it’s always good to think about problems – and the more people who get involved, the more creative solutions we find, and for Tree Shepherd it’s been incredibly useful too.  I would love to do more things like this for Tree Shepherd in the future or other social enterprises because it’s great to engage young people especially.