Centric Digital’s Mike Lavigne explains the uniquely enjoyable and productive experience of completing a Code-a-thon.

At 5:30am, we emerged to find Manhattan’s Financial District shrouded in a low-hanging silver cloud. As the sun rose, the usually bustling streets were silent and ethereal, the emerging sunshine slowly adding color to our world.

We arrived at the edge of the Hudson River to the sight of skyscrapers seemingly floating on a futuristic cityscape, bordered by tall ships poised to sail off across the clouds to Neverland.

All of this was proving even more surreal because we had been awake for almost 24 hours straight, completing our latest Code-a-thon.

Why a Code-a-thon?

At Centric Digital, we see Code-a-thons as a way to rapidly accelerate new ideas and experiment with digital experiences. We’ll start with a group brainstorm session about a business problem that needs solving.

This includes questions like, “How can we gamify health engagement?” or, “How can we drive customers more rapidly down the path to a purchase?”

After the brainstorm, we turn our ideas into a functioning prototype of a responsive website or native app, starting with sketches and wireframes before moving into design, data, and development. But instead of the standard multi-week product cycle, all of this takes place in about 32 hours.

It takes a lot of brainpower — and even more Redbull, pizza, and Indian food — to push through an overnight Code-a-thon. But we always end up with a better understanding of the problem and a digital prototype that can help jump-start development in the weeks to come. The beautiful sunrise is just an added bonus.