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Bringing the Spirit of Silicon Valley to Levi Strauss & Co.


Hackathons – those 24-hour coding marathons that harness caffeine-fueled creativity sparked by a time crunch – used to be the domain of the tech world.

No longer.

These days, hackathons have become synonymous with generating outside-the-box ideas in all kinds of industries – and last week, Levi Strauss & Co. got in on the fun with a hackathon aimed at giving online customers a better shopping experience.

“The hackathon is traditionally a culture that has come up from IT companies like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft,” said organizer Mansi Fadnavis, global product manager at LS&Co. “Even though we’re a retail company, now that we have e-commerce, we are really a retail and technology company today – so we wanted to bring that spirit here and motivate people to come together and innovate.”

The energy in the room was palpable and enthusiasm was running high as teams from across the ecommerce divisions presented their hacks at the LS&Co. headquarters.

The challenge was simple: Come up with an idea that would drive consumer engagement, grow revenue or increase customer satisfaction on our brand ecommerce sites. After a weekend of feverish collaboration, teams were asked to demonstrate their ideas backed by actual working code.

“I thought there were tons of good ideas – a lot of things we can implement right away,” said Marc Rosen, executive vice president and president of global ecommerce, and one of the hackathon judges. “It was some great work by the teams in a very short time.”

In seizing that start-up mindset, the innovations that teams came up with were wide-ranging and imaginative.

“This hackathon really brings the spirit of innovation to LS&Co.,” Marc said. “Our people have the best ideas about how we can move the business forward and best serve consumers. This is an opportunity for them to bring those ideas to life and learn how not to let rules and barriers stop us from moving quickly to solve problems.”

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