By the IBM & Ogilvy Hackathon 2017 winning team, Abracadabra


Ad-man smoke and mirrors would not do, this was ‘real life’ diabetes shit.  We needed to come up with something as feasible as it was creative and be confident it would make a long-term difference. To get there, we had a box of honest tricks:


At the beginning we had a lot of ideas on the table but everyone was comfortable and confident enough to be frank about what might and might not work. Everyone left egos at the hackathon door - no time or money to waste on massage.


The idea that made it through had to be something that used Watson’s as a solid foundation, but did something that wasn’t already out there, and that wasn’t just innovation for its own sake.


As the idea developed we recruited some new teammates: a virtual doc, a 3d printed diabetic robot, a kiddie coder, a proud mother.  With a little Watson magic-wanding, it was truly magic to see our creations developing minds of their own and providing answers that answered the brief and actually saved the NHS money in ways we wouldn’t have thought possible in our pre-hack brains.

Forming, Storming, Norming, Out-Performing

How to present it ALL in 5 mins?! Last minute team changes and 8-hour time zone challenges didn’t bode well at the outset, but we quickly formed, we weathered just one or two storms (more like summer showers) and we started to norm and perform

Ka-ching! Big idea agreed 11am.

Ka-ching! Individual responsibilities mapped out 11:30am.

Ka-ching! Visual identity 3pm.

Ka-ching! First coding 3:30pm. Build, build, build.

Next morning, quick recap, build, build, build.

3pm: time to focus on the presentation. Shit! We only have 5 minutes. Bollocks! We have so much to say. Let’s head to the bar.

7pm: 5 minutes 15…so close!

7:10pm: 4 minutes 57…yes! But let’s make sure.

7:20pm: 5 minutes 9. Shit, sorry, my fault, I’ll keep to the bloody script

7:35pm: more pizza, more beers.

8pm: dry run with the late-night Dove team. Good call: some tricky questions about financials, and 4 minutes 48! Yes!

8:30pm: mandatory presentation attire (blue t-shirt) sweat management discussions

9:10pm: are we really heading home this early?

Next day: “…and the winner is Abracadabra”

Watch out Plymouth! Watch out NHS England! Here we come.


Want more hackathon action? Catch up on Day 1 and Day 2 of the IBM Ogilvy Hackathon.