Posted by IN

Back to back weekend hackathons shows off Calgary’s brightest aspiring entrepreneurs

11 February 2013
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Over the last two weekends, while most were at home enjoying the Superbowl and the Grammys, the tech community in Calgary came together for what is known as a “hackathon” in pursuit of having some digital fun, doing some serious networking and kickstarting the next big thing.

A hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others in the field of software development, like graphic designers, interface designers, marketers and project managers collaborate intensively on software projects. And, intense it was! Over the two weekends, a total of 17 teams came together.

For what it’s like to be on a team, check out Jason Zeller’s post titled “10 Lessons Learned from My Adventure at Startup Weekend” on TechVibes: http://www.techvibes.com/blog/lessons-learned-startup-weekend-2013-02-12

I was honoured to be a judge at both events and I can tell you that it was far from easy to pick the winners!

All the teams managed to quickly come together to make magic happen. What struck me at both events was not only the calibre of the aspiring talent, but also how far we have come in the Calgary tech ecosystem — the rooms were full of new and experienced tech business people and supported by the cities leading associations and tech incubators (AcceleratoryYYC and Assembly).

After 48hrs of coding, mobile solution ‘PledgeThis*’ was awarded a $37K contract when they were named the winner of the inaugural Charity App Challenge on Sunday February 3, 2012. The Charity App Challenge is a joint initiative between the Calgary Herald, Digital Alberta and Place2Give.com. Local developers worked in teams from the 1-3 of Feb to build a mobile solution for this year’s Calgary Herald Christmas Fund Charities. Based on the Movember fundraiser concept, ‘PledgeThis*’ gives individuals the opportunity to create a fundraising challenge, for example shaving one’s head, and allows people to either donate money to the challenge or join in. You’ll see it out in the real world later this year.

Last night, at the Calgary Startup Weekend, the team ‘Parley’ was given first place for it’s light-weight cloud based ‘Performance Management Made Simple’ concept. Calgary Startup Weekend is a local version of a global grassroots movement that has included 400 past events in the 100 countries around the world in 2012. It was a joint project from Boast Capital, Innovate Calgary, Canadian Youth Business Foundation and Assembly. I was pleased to have Stephdokin as a Gold Sponsor of this event, joining others such as The Banff Centre, Canadian Cloud Council, Startup Calgary, AcceleratorYYC, Merchee, AccelerateAB and C100.

All the teams displayed the primary fundamental element of being an entrepreneur — passion. The winners were picked based on the problem they were solving, customer research, the opportunity, the business model and, of course, the quality of what they developed.

Amazing stuff in only a weekend’s worth of work.

Kudos to organizers of both events!