The Pinterest Makeathon is a time when employees come together to work on passion projects and hacks that they may not have time for in their normal scope of work. We recently held our 9th annual and second virtual Makeathon, and people from across the company, at every level and in any role (technical or not!), had the opportunity to pitch an idea to make our product, culture, or internal processes better. Sprinkled throughout the week were Tryathon and “Make Break” sessions, including Pinployee-led fitness classes, craft activities, a lunch concert, and an American Sign Language class. These activities gave a much needed break to the teams who were hard at work making and also allowed those who weren’t on a team this year the opportunity to get creative, explore new hobbies and get moving to inspire innovation.
This year, our event theme was Pinnovate – Ideas from anyone, built for anyone. Our goal was to provide (virtual) space and time for employees to innovate, collaborate, and get inspired by fellow team members across the business. Areas of focus this year included:
- Innovation: Pinployees were encouraged to get creative and solve problems that improve the product for Pinners, living our core values “Put Pinners first” and “Be an owner.”
- Collaboration: Working across business areas is a key goal of Makeathon. This is the perfect opportunity to partner with Pinployees in other departments to expand perspectives, make connections, learn something new, and share skills.
- Experimentation: With essentially no risk, Makeathon is the time to get out of one’s comfort zone and remove the fear of failure – no idea is too wild.
- Inclusion: Regardless of the project, we’re always working with a focus on bringing everyone the inspiration to create a life they love.
Since most of the team is working remotely, all of the Makeathon 2021 projects were showcased virtually via ~2 minute demo videos on an event website (internal to Pinterest). We call this showcase the “Science Fair” and it serves as an opportunity for our Makers to share their Makeathon projects with the whole Pinterest team, including our Makeathon 2021 judges! Everyone at Pinterest was welcome to check out the work, and attendees were encouraged to ask questions/dive deeper into the projects with the teams via Slack or team-specific Google Meet calls.
This year, we received 101 idea submissions and 56 science fair projects, all in the service of helping Pinners & Pinployees create a life they love. In total, over 1,000 Pinployees attended the virtual Science Fair the day it launched!
A panel of judges from across the company reviewed and voted for projects spanning 9 different award categories. Our final award, the Crowd Favorite, was voted on by the entire company. On the last day of Makeathon, we held an Awards Ceremony all-hands, hosted by Jeremy King, our Head of Engineering, & Omar Seyal, our Head of Core Product, to demo the ideas and congratulate the winners.
The spirit of Makeathon lives on 365 days a year at Pinterest. To continue to build a culture of bottom-up innovation and give all employees the opportunity to keep working on their Makeathon projects, Pinterest introduced the Idea Factory. The Idea Factory is a place where all Pinployees can add their own product or process ideas, brainstorm together to create new ideas, and vote on those they believe will help improve Pinterest. Ideas are categorized and shared with leaders for visibility. We opened the Idea Factory as part of Makeathon, and we will keep it running indefinitely so all employees can continue pitching innovative new ideas year-round.
A huge thank you to the organizer of Makeathon (shout out to Kelly Kruger), the planning committee, the Workplace Events team, our Tryathon teachers & Make Break leaders, our judges, executive sponsors, AV team, and all of our participants! We’re so excited about the innovative projects brought to life this year and hope to introduce them IRL some time soon.