Into the Shark Tank: Building teamwork & skillsets with HackiHour

Insights / 10.08.2021

6/15/2023 6:29:36 PM Red Door Interactive http://www.reddoor.biz Red Door Interactive

Red Door Interactive’s "HackiHour"

At Red Door, we believe that staying on the cutting edge of this fast-paced industry means always being open to learn, and willing to evolve based on those learnings. One way we sharpen this practice is through our quarterly HackiHours. Similar to a “think tank” (or “shark tank,” if we’re honest), HackiHour provides an opportunity for Red Door employees to learn new technologies, challenge themselves creatively, and develop new skills at work—all with a healthy dose of friendly competition.

The way HackiHour works is simple. After our internal RDI LABS team determines the topic we want to explore, they brief participants on a fun project assignment utilizing the chosen new service, product, process, etc. Teams then have time to work together before presenting to the “Sharks,” who will judge projects based on creativity, functionality, and future applicability. Everyone at Red Door is eligible to participate, and teams are assigned at random—that way, we’re not only able to get our hands dirty with new tools that may in turn inform recommendations we bring to our clients, but we get to do so alongside different team members each time.

The Assignment: Alexa skill development

With the growing number of people using smart speakers in their homes and workspaces, voice command has never been more useful in our day to day lives. To better understand this evolving trend, our most recent HackiHour was all about building “Alexa skills.”

An Alexa skill functions as an app built within the Amazon Alexa AI technology, allowing you to use voice commands to ask Alexa to do any number of things—from playing music, to starting a video conference, to setting a reminder. In the spirit of exploring new capabilities while still finding relevant use cases for us and our clients, this HackiHour assignment asked teams to create an Alexa skill that could connect our San Diego and Denver offices in an engaging way. 

The Winner: Two Truths & a Lie


Our teams got to work, thinking through games, fun facts, conversation staters, or any other creative ideas to inspire their projects. The key was to make sure their Alexa skill not only paid off on the ask, but also had long-term viability. On presentation day, the Sharks chose a winner: Team Frankfurt’s “Alexa Skill: Two Truths & a Lie.”

To demonstrate how it worked, the team had surveyed several employees, asking them to provide two truths and a lie about themselves. After the responses were programmed in, people playing the game asked Alexa to say two truths and a lie about any one of the participating employees. Once the player offered their guess, Alexa would be able to tell them if they had correctly identified the truth (or not!). Ultimately, this Alexa skill offered a fun way to learn little-known facts about our coworkers, perhaps prompting more conversations in the future.

The Outcome: Connecting our offices with Alexa skills

What’s exciting about this HackiHour project is that now that this Alexa skill has been developed, we get to implement it in real life. We plan to use an intake form for all current and new employees to input their own two truths and a lie. Then, because our Red Door offices are already connected via Amazon Alexa devices, we can easily add this Alexa skill on both ends, so anyone can interact with it at any time!

At Red Door, we’re always looking for ways to inspire and evolve. That’s why we love HackiHour. It’s an opportunity to test out new technologies, grow and learn together as a team, be better partners to our clients—and stay on the cutting edge.

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