How this workaway in Barcelona turned out to be a generator of 12 product features


Mynd is a tech company hailing from the United States, making products that facilitate renting and owning real estate. While the company’s headquarters are located in Oakland, California, the majority of the 100+ team members are distributed around the world.

For their retreat, Mynd gathered 32 developers, product people, and business-people in Barcelona. Over 10 days, their goal was to run a hackathon, develop 12 new product ideas, and have plenty of fun via various team building activities.

We talked with Mynd’s VP of engineering, Igor Dubosarskiy and CEO, Doug Brien, about their experiences with the retreat.

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The value of proper preparation

Before the Mynd team set off for the retreat, they made sure everyone was prepared. In their case, this meant being ready to tackle the work without intense help of designers (there was only one designer who actually came up with one of the 12 ideas).

Before the retreat took place, developers and product experts curated ideas for the work to be done in Barcelona. They prepared all the key design elements for the application as building blocks.

This made it easier for the developers to build a great-looking prototype without a designer involved. It’s like using LEGO bricks – an intuitive process that doesn’t require the help of a designer.

The main idea was to bring stakeholders and people deeply involved in execution together, get people to step outside their comfort zone and role boundaries and get everyone focused on problem-solving.

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32 people, 3 days, 12 product features, one hackathon

The main focus of Mynd’s Barcelona retreat was a 3-day intensive hackathon. The problems were known, ideas came out of the intensive planning session the day before.

These were either new tools for Mynd users or tools meant to improve and automate internal company processes.

To make this happen, everyone on the team was focused 100%, not involving themselves in any outside work. The Mynd crew was divided into 4 teams.

For example, one of the tools that was created was an internal tool that dealt with contextual project management. It would prioritize tasks according to the GPS location of Mynd’s workers in the field.

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Team building as an integral part of the retreat

Besides the hackathon, Mynd’s management made sure that there was time dedicated to team building. These activities took place in the evenings and during the weekends.

For one of the team building activities, Mynd employees went on a tour of the famous Sagrada Familia. They also went on a wine tasting tour and went for a night of pintxos (tapas) on Calle Blau street.

In this way, Mynd’s retreat was a healthy mix of productivity and team building that resulted in 12 new product features(!) and heaps of good times.

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