A Meeting of Minds: Hackfest 2021, Croatia

Our rapidly-growing team of Meister Lobsters works beautifully together to create beautiful, intuitive productivity software that teams love to use. Events like the annual Meister Hackfest a week-long team getaway – are the perfect opportunity for us to focus on new ideas, team bonding, and to nurture the unique Meister spirit. In this post, we’ll look back at the memorable 2021 Hackfest in Zadar, Croatia.

A Meeting of Minds: Hackfest 2021, Croatia

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Zadar’s sunset was described by film director Alfred Hitchcock as the most beautiful in the world, and it’s hard to argue. It provides a stunning backdrop for reflection on what was an unforgettable company getaway for almost a hundred Meister employees.

Hackfest is Meister’s annual team get-together, on an epic scale. And this year, the People and Culture team went even bigger, finding an extraordinary Hackfest location to mark the special occasion of Meister’s 15th anniversary. Located in the heart of the Adriatic on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, the city of Zadar combines ancient architectural relics with contemporary structures, never afraid to explore new art forms and ideas.

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Rabea Thies, Head of People and Culture, says: “The People & Culture team are all about making Meister a great place to work. Our annual getaway is one of the cornerstones of Meister’s ’work beautifully together’ philosophy. It’s the perfect environment for encouraging new ideas, improving communication, growing closer as a team – and having fun at the same time. We’re really pleased with how Hackfest 2021 went and the feedback has already inspired some new ideas for the next one!”

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Midnight Coach to Croatia

Our MeisterLobsters are a punctual lot, which meant that the two double-decker coaches were able to leave Vienna right on time on Sunday at the stroke of midnight. Despite the prospect of a 10-hour ride, everyone was in high spirits on what was a balmy September evening. After all, another purpose of the Hackfest was to finally get everyone together for some valuable face time after what has been a challenging 18 or so months.

Upon arrival on Monday the team eased into the day by checking in, and then promptly checking out the beach and the clear, calm waters of the Adriatic. It was a welcome respite after the bus ride and the perfect way to recharge ahead of a tightly scheduled week of both work and play.

Hackfests have changed a lot since our first one in Baden back in 2010. But the idea’s still the same: to get everyone together away from the office, to thrash out new ideas, and have fun together.

Michael Hollauf, Meister CEO & Co-Founder
A dedication to founders Michael and Till from the People and Culture team, a sentiment echoed by the entire Meister family.

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The People and Culture team initialized full Hackfest mode on Tuesday morning by organizing a few getting-to-know-you games. It had been a while since many of our employees last saw each other in person, plus Meister is also expanding rapidly and there were several new and unfamiliar faces on board. With valued Lobsters also joining Hackfest from the US and Germany, it was the ideal time for introductions. New Lobster Miša found the whole experience especially useful: “As a new Lobster the Hackfest couldn’t have come at a better time. It was the perfect opportunity to get to know my colleagues, to put faces to names and find out what everyone does. It was a great introduction to Meister, and I’m really excited about throwing myself into my new role as a Content Writer.” 

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After a lighthearted start, the Lobsters were motivated, energized and ready to get down to more serious work. First, though, a very important point on the agenda had to be taken care of: the new Meister team photo. For Head of People and Culture Rabea, it was a little like herding cats …

Rabea Thies, Head of People and Culture, orchestrates the Meister team photo.

… but we got there in the end:

The proud and rapidly expanding Meister team.

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On Tuesday afternoon the Lobsters threw themselves into a range of activities, and there was something for everyone: a boat trip, bike tour, yoga on the beach, a range of sports, or simply time to relax (or work!) by the pool.

The boat trip proved to be one of the most popular activities.

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Putting Our Heads Together

Hackfest is all about striking a balance between work and fun, and the company mantra of working beautifully together was reflected in the Wednesday workshops. A series of sessions across all departments led to several new ideas and inspiring discussions. Which is really at the heart of Hackfest. ​​In the early days of Meister, our developers would “hack” new features at the retreat, and it’s an event that has now evolved into an incubator for new ideas right across the company.

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After a morning of hard work, the afternoon was dedicated to some well earned down time. Another popular choice of activity was the virtual reality-enhanced sightseeing tour of Zadar’s Old Town, combining elements of the ancient and modern worlds. Zadar is a city where 2000-year old Roman ruins sit comfortably alongside ultra-modern installations like Nikola Bašić’s two unique monuments: the Sea Organ uses the ebb and flow of the waves to produce gentle music reminiscent of whale song, and the Greeting to the Sun comprising 300 multilayered glass plates that absorb the sun’s rays symbolizes communication between man and nature.

At Meister, we know a thing or two about communication. Raphaela, Partner Management Lead, has attended a few Hackfests over the years and still very much values the experience: “Partner management is all about communication and building relationships, and my job involves working with several different departments. It’s not often I get the chance to meet so many of my colleagues face to face, so the Hackfest is perfect for exchanging ideas and getting to know each other better.”

Nikola Bašić’s “Greeting to the Sun” installation.

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A Double Celebration

With practically all of Meister’s employees present, Hackfest was the perfect opportunity to celebrate two major milestones in the company’s history. The closing beach-side dinner on Thursday was a celebration of 15 successful years of Meister. It provided a time for reflection, for coming together, for reminiscing and for looking forward to the next exciting chapter in the Meister story.

Founders Till Vollmer and Michael Hollauf celebrate 15 years of Meister.


I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved as a team, and excited about what the future holds. Here’s to the next 15 years!

Till Vollmer, Meister CEO & Co-Founder

The curtain fell on the closing dinner with a spectacular fireworks display, but the night was still far from over. The entire Meister team assembled one last time at the conference center for a short and emotional ceremony to acknowledge all of the hard work that has gone into Meister’s latest productivity tool, MeisterNote, a documentation software fresh off the launch pad in September this year.

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Celebrating the successful launch of Meister’s latest product, MeisterNote, and acknowledging the hard work and dedication involved.

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A celebration of the strong work ethic at Meister; the Hackfest closing dinner.

While we Lobsters are a professional and hardworking bunch, we also know how to party beautifully together. The final Hackfest evening was filled with music, dance and games, yet it was also a heart-warming reminder that Meister is really a company of collaborative, dedicated, like-minded people very much invested in what we do.

As our US colleagues headed for the airport and the rest of us boarded the bus for the return trip to Vienna, tired though some of us may have been, there was a palpable sense of optimism and excitement about capitalizing on the outcomes of Hackfest 2021. Thank you, Meister, for the last 15 years but dare we say that the best is yet to come?

Sounds like fun? Check out Meister’s open positions to book your place on Hackfest 2022!