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Inside Marvel

Introducing Picdeck – a Marvel hackday project

Posted 6 years ago by Murat Mutlu

There's been a lot going on behind the scenes at Marvel over the last couple of months, we're working around the clock on a ton of new features and updates that we can't wait to show you.

But despite all of that, we still want to explore new ideas and technologies. It's only natural to be excited by all the great stuff making the news, whether it's the Uber API or programmable drones, the desire to 'make' is impossible to ignore.

Prior to starting Marvel, we had always tried to initiate hackdays at our previous jobs. It was the same story everytime "when things are more quiet" or "when we get more resources". which of course never happens. Frustration overload.

We vowed that if we ever had a team, those words would never be uttered. Hackdays would be a regular feature and happen every month. Come rain or shine, no matter what, the hackday would take place.

The formula for the day would be simple:

  1. The hack can be anything, it doesn't need to related to Marvel.
  2. The hack needs to be ready to ship by the end of the day, no matter what.

The benefit of this approach is that it forces you to build something that's actually achievable in a day PLUS you get a feel-good buzz knowing that by the time you go home, you would have shipped a brand new product.

We've just hired @olegtsplin and @seanpreston (more on that soon), so we kicked off our first monthly hackday last Friday.

After 10 hours and 33 minutes we build Picdeck - a Tweetdeck-style viewer for Instagram.

The idea started when we chatted about how cool it would be to see a real-time stream of images from Instagram based on your interests. We're hardcore users of Tweetdeck here and it seemed like the perfect way to display and search for content on Instagram.

Picdeck allows you to set-up individual columns for users and hashtags to monitor images as they get posted. It's pretty mesmerising once it gets going.


The rules of the hackday meant we had to ruthlessly prioritise and drop some of the featured we wanted. The main one was the ability to define a column based on a location, this would have allowed images to start streaming in from anywhere on a map, a potentially killer tool for journalists covering live events. Also, the site is about as responsive as a rock. MVP!

A few hours after we launched Picdeck, it got picked up by TNW, Mashable, The Verge and Fast Company, which resulted in over 10,000 sign-ups in a week. Amazing!

Here are some interesting stats:

Over 25,000 columns have been added so far with the most popular columns being:

  1. @teslamotors (450 people, we have no idea why this is top)
  2. #GoEags (300 people)
  3. #cycling (162 people)
  4. #hyperlapse (110 people)

If there's features you want to see in Picdeck, let us know in the comments and we'll add them to the list.

We're already excited about September's hackday, follow us on Twitter to find out more.

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Hi! I'm one of the co-founders at Marvel and a Product Designer by trade. You can often find me asking why Arsenal haven't signed anyone this season. Follow me on Twitter.

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