As Chief Technology Officer, I lead our product and engineering teams here at Quantcast. I’m constantly thinking about how we can more deeply understand our customer’s pain and how we can develop innovative solutions that improve the lives of both our customers and employees. One of the most fun and successful ways we have found to uncover these innovations is via Quantathon, our employee event that brings together Quantcasters from a variety of backgrounds, geographies, and departments to tackle the most interesting and challenging problems we face.
We created Quantathon as a way to maintain our entrepreneurship and innovation as we scale. It’s easy to be agile when you’re a 10-person company, but as our company grows, we need to continue to have a deep understanding of our customers’ hopes, dreams, and fears and push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Our biggest asset at Quantcast is our people, and our company culture is strongly focused on the idea that people close to a problem should be empowered to solve it. Quantathon is a mechanism we use to embrace and gamify this to engage the diverse set of people across Quantcast to share ideas, form teams, solve problems, push boundaries, and win prizes.
Quantathon is a tremendous opportunity for people to grow and strive
So, how does it work? We’ve adopted a “Shark Tank”-inspired format in which teams pitch a solution to our “venture investment board” (composed of the executive leadership team and a few key functional leaders) and the board decides whether or not the idea is good enough to turn into a real project. Before the final pitch session, our venture investment board acts as “coaches” ahead of the final pitch meeting. We also have a few internal trainers who are available to teach team members how to pitch ideas in five minutes–a skill that is incredibly valuable in most roles! The venture investment board may also help Quantcasters recruit additional team members as well as counsel them on any legal, technical, or cost issues. Then the real fun begins. Quantcasters work with their teams every Friday over the course of the month before presenting their project to our judging panel.
This year, since we are all working virtually, we did a live company-wide broadcast of a number of the pitches in a “TechCrunch Disrupt” type of format, and we had our employees vote for their favorite with a “People’s Choice Award.”
This is our eighth Quantathon, and the entire company was invited to participate. It’s intentionally a self-organized process, as anyone can pitch an idea and form a team. This year, we had more than 20 teams made up of 80 employees participating from our Quantcast offices all over the world. The creativity and innovation of our teams this year were truly astounding and it was arguably the best Quantathon we’ve ever had. It was especially exciting to see so many cross-functional groups composed of members from engineering, sales, client services, marketing, people and places, and more. With their collective knowledge and insight, the projects truly tackled some of our business’ and customers’ major pain points and ranged from sustainability initiatives to product features you’ll see coming soon.
Quantathon is not just about product innovation and company growth—it’s also an event that is designed to be fun and an opportunity for personal growth, since we’re pushing folks out of their comfort zones and giving them a chance to do things that they wouldn’t normally do in their daily roles. Every participant I have spoken to has learned a lot from the process, whether it’s an engineer learning to pitch ideas to executives, or a recent college graduate working with people cross-functionally for the first time. Participants also relish the strong teamwork aspect of the competition, and the achievement of key project milestones.
Because of that impressive display of innovation, we handed out even more awards than planned this year. The winning team members each receive cash and Quantcast shares. With five honorable mentions, four third-place winners, two second-place winners, and one grand prize winner, we’re excited to get to work implementing these innovations for our customers and our business. Previous Quantathon winners have given us entire new product lines (one of which generated tens of millions of dollars of revenue in its first year). Quantathon is a win-win for our customers, the company, and every participant, and every year it also reminds me how fortunate we are to have such creative, collaborative, and talented people at Quantcast and an amazing culture of innovation and inventiveness. Bring on Quantathon 2022!