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Annual VAX Event Kicks Off in Baltimore

A preview of our 2018 all-hands hack week

It’s hard to believe that seven years ago VAX was simply an idea between two former team members of Vox Product. Since then, we’ve hosted this event once a year and have brought our product, technology, and design teams together for a week of creation, exploration and skill-building.

For the last seven years, our strategic focus as a product team of 130 designers, technologists, and product-minded professionals, has been to grow our audience. With growth comes responsibility to retain users who are passionate about our brands and want to be more involved in our content. We want to create a more valuable, engaging experience for our users on our platform, which is why this year we chose loyalty and engagement as our theme and focal point.

An event the size of VAX takes months of planning. We had committees working on everything from the VAX logo and swag to an event website for VAX-related info.

There were meetings with hotels, restaurants, and caterers. Also many countless Amazon shipments to make sure all of our supply needs were met. After settling on Hotel Revival in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood, a cultural hub of the city that bridges local artistry and deep history, we focused our efforts on project strategy and gearing up for three days of project ideation, creation, and execution.

Seven years ago at our first VAX, there would have only been a small group of people checking into this hotel. Now, we have taken over the space and even had to rent a bus for our team dinner! So you’re probably wondering: what now? Did they all show up and make “stuff” or did they all get sucked into the foosball table and call it a day?

ready for crab #vaxbaltimore

A post shared by David Zhou (@thedz0) on

So many “shellfies”, but not enough of the angles!

Although we did celebrate with a giant crab feast after everyone arrived (because you can’t come to Baltimore and NOT eat crab), we got straight down to business early Wednesday morning.

After washing away the Old Bay and getting a good night’s rest, our Director of Team Operations and Experience kicked off VAX Wednesday morning with a presentation and some opening notes.

From there, everyone broke out into their individual groups and chiseled away at their ideas. Day one was pretty quiet as everyone was heads down, but we’re now well into day two with post-it notes all over tables, white boards filled with template designs, and quiet chants of “YES!” from teams as their projects are finally coming together.

One group is focusing on series-driven video pages, another on rendering AR 3D models for product reviews. Some of our teammates are focused on website updates to our diversity and inclusion company page while others are working on branding for our employee resource groups at Vox Media. There is even a team with a podcasting area setup to create a podcast episode about the history of VAX so they can explore ways to dynamically insert ads into podcasts.

It’s hard to believe that just 48 hours ago we entered this hotel with an idea, just like we did 7 years ago. The only difference now is we’ve taken over the entire hotel and have more than 25 projects almost completed. What will tomorrow bring? Continue to follow our journey on Twitter + Instagram and stay tuned on for day 3!