We do things – ESPI Maker Days


The idea of some sort of “Hackathon” or “Hackday” has been in our heads for quite a while now. But somehow we always had to push it – too many projects happening, too busy, too much going on. Last week then, we finally made it happen: The first ESPI Maker Days took place – and they were a full-on success! So, here is what we did:

For two days, Thursday and Friday, we closed the doors of our Berlin office, gave notice to our clients, and switched on our auto-reply e-mails: “Thanks for reaching out! We’ll be back next week.” And then, we were ready to start making things! Things for our office, personal things, things we planned on making for a while, but never got to do, things we wanted to learn. Things for us.

Getting the Maker Days set up

A couple of weeks ago, we simply started collecting ideas. Everyone was welcome to chip in, we just put them on a big board in our office cafeteria. Shortly before the Maker Days were about to happen, that board started filling up rather quickly. We formed teams for our desired ideas, which resulted in eight groups, working on a variety of projects – all office related, all very different.

The final Maker Days topics reached from Arduino hacks to music and film making, from product creation to web design, from questionnaires to photography; we even had our very own Franzi – a professional barista – teach everyone how to make proper coffee. No matter which project room you entered, there was always something weird and great going on.


The Espi-Man, late night guitar solos and fun facts

It was, for example, very much possible to run into Basti dressed as Superman on the hallway. He was starring “Espi-Man” in the Espi Manifesto Movie – a short film about our internal work manifesto that contains mantras like “We need inspiration to inspire. Experience, success and failure are made to share”. Somehow, that could be seen as a mantra for our Maker Days, too.

Located right next to the film studio was the sound studio, where you could hear Lorenz use all of his singing skills, or find Daniel late at night, recording an electric guitar solo.


That was probably one of the best things about our Maker Days: Everyone might have a skill to share which isn’t work-related. These talents are often unknown to your colleagues, yet still incredibly interesting and outstanding. These days gave us the opportunity to add all those skills to our work environment, and inspire each other.

To make sure that exactly these talents wouldn’t get lost, one group worked on an internal database about our employees. They focussed on collecting work and project experience, personal fun facts and expertise we have outside of work. As we are a growing agency, this can be super helpful in the future, in order to always find the right person for the right job.

Giving ourselves the chance to grow

Growing was another huge topic during these two days. Some groups started out with a challenging constellation: The “Internet of Things” project had four people on the team, but none of them were developers. The goal was to create a physical product that reacts on digital input, such as tweets or hashtags. With no Arduino and no coding skills, the group helped themselves with LittleBits, a toolkit made for exactly these sorts of things.


But what would a Maker Day, or Hack Day, as we previously called it, be without an Arduino? Our kitchen fridge was equipped with LEDs that indicate the current easiness level of opening it (our fridge is, depending on the inflation, sometimes very hard to open). So, now you at least may avoid weird moments of fighting the fridge, trying to get its doors open.

Even topics that did not involve technical skills were tackled in a surprising, unconventional and sometimes even ironic way: The merchandising team created an enormous amount of stuff: Edenspiekermann sports team jumpers, buttons, temporary tattoos, chocolate with typographic advice, and even 3D printed coffee stencils. In the future, some of these goods might eventually be found in our very own Espi Shop.


For the kitchen dashboard – a big monitor placed in the kitchen that shows all sorts of data concerning the office (Swarm check-ins, Slack messages, Instagram updates, etc.) – a team, also without developers, simply used the service IFTTT and hooked it into a nicely designed Tumblr blog to display all the information.

A whole bunch of digital tools were built during these two days: besides the people database and the kitchen dashboard, one team created a little chrome extension that simplifies the copy writing process for websites. We plan on sharing more about that in a separate blog post within the next few days.

One for the road at the Pink Flamingo Bar

We finalized the Maker Days with a big presentation where the teams showed their results. No winners; every group was equally great. While the ESPI Song (by the ESPI Tunes team) played on loop, we celebrated with drinks at the Pink Flamingo Bar.


The mood in the office during those two days was incredible. The fact that everyone was committed to one of the projects – no work mails, no quick fixes, no client calls, no meetings – gave us room to breathe and try out new things; discover untouched territories. We gave ourselves the chance to try and fail, and made some incredible and wonderful things. We should do this again sometime soon!