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Pitch Night in Madrid

As part of DataCamp's most recent all-hands workweek, we held our first-ever pitch night.
May 2018  · 3 min read

As part of DataCamp's most recent all-hands workweek, we held our first-ever pitch night. If you've never taken part in one of these, it's a chance for anyone in the company to get up and try to sell an idea to their colleagues. Should we donate a day a month of everyone's time to charity? Subtitle our lessons in Klingon? Rewrite the back end in Scala, or only stock the office fridges with healthy snacks?

Anything and everything is allowed, so long as you can make your case in two minutes or less without slides or other aids. It's a lot of fun, and a great way to find out what other people in the company think is important. So what did our staff pitch?

  • A better internal knowledge management system so that we're not Slacking each other links to Google spreadsheets full of links to Trello cards that identify the GitHub repos that---but you get the picture.

  • Different ways for staff to talk to each other and learn from each other. We're spread across three offices and six timezones right now, and that's not even counting the remote employees, and like a lot of distributed companies, staying in touch is something we constantly have to work at. Guild meetings, internal chat roulette, a buddy system, an internal library with recommended books, hackathons, and desk swaps were just a few of the ideas put forward.

  • Embedding DataCamp's Help Desk into every part of our website so that staff and users always have answers at their fingertips.

  • Redesigning our certificates so that they use less ink when printed. It may sound like a small thing, but when you multiply a page's worth of blue toner by the hundreds of thousands of people who complete courses with us each year, it can actually make a difference.

  • An Emergency Response Plan for every DataCamp location so that staff will know what to do in case of a power outage, a fire, or the US winning the World Cup. (It's important to prepare for even the most unlikely events...)

  • Have everyone in the company create a DataCamp Project so that we all know what it's like to use our authoring tools, and so that all of us can point at something on our website and say, "I built that."

  • Contributing more open source software and data packages for the community to use.

  • Instructor meetups in our offices, at conferences, and so on, so that the people who are building the lessons that are helping you learn can learn from (and commiserate with) each other.

  • Giving staff time to help teach groups that are underrepresented in tech---not just programming, but business skills and everything else we know.

  • Allowing our users to trade in experience points to send basic math textbooks to schools in developing countries.

  • A private jet, which would apparently pay for itself in only a few hundred weeks, depending on the parameters in your model.

And finally, there was the proposal for fancy dress Fridays. Having staff wear costumes to work one Friday a month may not be a conventional way for a team to get to know one another, but that's the point of pitch night: it's a way to discover things you would never have thought to ask.

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