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Lead Product Designer

Hackathon Win

Fast and furious fin tech colaboration

The vision of the company founders' was to help ordinary Americans retire with dignity. Twenty years after the founding, the time was ripe to add post-retirement advice and management to the product.


As part of its Agile transformation, the company was holding twice-annual Hackathons. For staff they were intended to be a break from regular project work and a chance to explore themes we didn't usually touch. The company also regularly productized relevant hacks. 

Before the Hackathon

For twenty years, the company had been giving customers advice on how to invest their 401(k). For a fee, they'd also manage your 401(k) in accordance with the long-term financial philosophy of the company and its Nobel-prize-winning founders. However, the company had nothing to offer customers once they had retired. My idea for the Hackathon was to rectify that. I named my team "Already Retired."

Before the Hackathon, I recruited other team members, including developers, a content writer and a financial researcher. I laid out my vision for them, and we reached an agreement on what we wanted to accomplish in the two days available to us:

Here's my whiteboard sketch for the dashboard

  • Proof of concept that we could deliver post-retirement financial numbers
  • A simple Invision click-through prototype of:
    1. an email to customers who might already be retired
    2. a 3-way selection page
    3. a financial dashboard for a customer who is already retired

Hackathon demo

If you've participated in a Hackathon, you'll understand that the event itself is a bit of a blur in my mind. But I vividly remember being the first team to present our hack at the Hackathon Demo for the entire company, including many executives. 

Many of my coworkers burned for the mission of the company, as did I. Some said that they got goosebumps when I presented our hack. I told them that to continue helping ordinary Americans to live with dignity throughout their retirement was the natural extension of our founders' vision. And our team was showing how we could do that.

Seeing that this is the beginning of a sales funnel, I wouldn't be surprised if the third option would be dropped during the optimization stage. In the Invision prototype only the first option worked. It took users to the finacial dashboard outlined in the whiteboard above.

Landing page

The email was meant to be sent to customers who we thought might already be retired. The main call to action in the email takes the user to a landing page. In our hack, it asked the user the question "Are you working?" and gave them three choices:

    1. No, I'm retired
    2. Yes, I'm working
    3. It's complicated