My New Hackathon Hobby

At this point, I should just admit that I get a thrill from it.

I should just come out and say it: I like the focus that comes from time pressure and the intensive brainstorming and collaboration.  I like hackathons. And Startup Weekends. And MVPs. And playing the part of product and/or project person keeping things humming along and then presenting to panels of judges and peers, even if it seems incomplete.

I like how I show up with an idea to pitch, assemble a group, and how we’re then time-boxed into coming up with something “demoable” by the end of the weekend.

And I should also say I’m getting pretty good at it.

In 2018, I did three. That means I’ve now done a grand total…of three. And I’m 3-0 with the teams I was privileged to work with, having gotten first place in all three.

1) In June, it was Austin-based Factom’s first-ever hackathon. Using Factom’s protocol, our small team put something together that really would be useful for public health purposes and travelers.


In July, I took part in the Mayor’s Blockchain Challenge, intended to come up with a potentially viable solution to the ever-present problem that Austin’s homeless individuals have with keeping track of records and documents needed for medical care, legal needs, or other purposes.

Mayor Steve Adler and a group of both civic and tech leaders judged our work Sunday morning that weekend, determining that our team had done a great job of meeting the needs of the actual users and incorporating feedback from the experts who’d come in to consult. Again, this was a very gratifying first-place victory.

Our team’s work continues as we build an MVP for the City of Austin called MyPass.




Lastly, in December I went to San Antonio for one of TechStar’s periodic Startup Weekend events, something very similar to the previous hackathons but leaning less toward technical work.

This too was a great experience, and I was very privileged to come out on top with a team that rallied around a mission to produce something real people wanted to buy.

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This year has brought a new hobby–indeed, a new habit, since I keep doing these. The next one is a Startup Weekend in Austin in early February 2019 for ideas pertaining to the circular economy and how to reduce waste in society. Let’s see how things go.

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