Hack Week - Why do we hack?

Written by Gabriel Almeida Pereira

We're on a mission to lead payment solutions for small merchants globally. To achieve that, we need to deeply understand the user's needs and foster innovation among our tech teams to deliver a multiplicity of products to improve the lives of small business owners around the world.

Our agile culture enables us to be adaptable and promote an environment fuelled by curiosity and the feeling of ownership towards solving our users' problems and making the work environment the best for all SumUppers.

Every year, members of the Engineering, Product and Design community step away from their day-to-day projects and activities to get together in an inspiring destination - explore, test, and develop ideas proposed out of their own perception of value and problem-solving mindset. And every time, we come back with many new ideas to implement, a big shift in our team integration and a boost of energy to continue our journey towards SumUp's mission.

Embedding SumUp's core values in everything we do

But why do we hack? The short answer is because it's in our core values - We Care, Team First, and Founder's Mentality.

These values define how we built SumUp and are rooted in our culture. With Founder's Mentality, SumUpers take ownership of problems they want to solve, improving the life of merchants and consumers using our products based on our We Care core value. And also proactively create solutions to their colleagues' needs and theirs, embracing the Team First value.

At SumUp, new starters can immediately find the hacking culture expressed in different ways, such as autonomous initiatives, dedicated free time for hacking, and events focused on this purpose.

How do we hack - Putting it into practice

The Global Hack Week is a yearly event for the Engineering, Product, and Design teams, organised mainly by volunteers from any tribe or location, independent of their experience level. Hack Week is an opportunity to bond, learn from each other, strengthen the sense of community, and encourage innovation.

This year, we gathered 400 SumUppers in Portugal, who developed +50 projects which now are being incorporated into SumUp products and internal processes. With all projects built rapidly, some promoted improvement on existing features, and others were entirely new solutions.

The theme for hacking this year was Seisō, polishing SumUp products to shine for users and cleaning up the house for all SumUppers. Inspired by the 5S Methodology for factory workplace organisation originating in postwar Japan in service of Just-In-Time Manufacturing. After you've taken out the trash (Seiri) and got things generally organised (Seiton), the next step is Seisō: clean, polish, and shine! And that's what we advocated for in this year's Hack Week.

From theme to awards and jury evaluation criteria, everything part of this eventful week perfectly aligned with what kind of solutions we expected and how they would add value to SumUp. But what sustained the investment in this week of innovation was how the event fostered cooperation between different offices, tribes, and teams. We see it as an opportunity for SumUppers to be hands-on and learn how to work systemically to deliver better solutions globally by combining their local abilities. From the moment we start organising Hack Week to seeing the results afterwards, it's clear how the investment and dedication are worth it.

Another global initiative is the Bi-weekly Hack Day, which allows SumUppers to engage in a project enabling them to learn new skills from collaborating with peers while delivering something meaningful for the business.

Our teams also organise local initiatives such as Team Offsites that tackle challenges requiring special attention from everyone involved to unleash cross-functional collaboration.

Another great example of cross-collaboration is the Hack for Ukraine, where a group of SumUpers gathered to find humanitarian aid for those affected by the war in Ukraine by using SumUp payment solutions as a channel for donations. A task force was formed with volunteers with different expertise to deliver a new solution as fast as possible.

How does hacking add value to SumUp's business?

At SumUp, we're driven by our mission to empower small merchants all over the world.  The possibilities to deliver this vision are infinite, so we hack to foster the culture we want to see every day as our modus operandi, creating the right conditions to navigate constant changes with creativity, experiment to innovate, and learn from our own journey toward this vision.

Back to our tech stories