An inside story from a hackathon: 30 people – 1 mission – 48 hours

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On a beautiful weekend in the end of June thirty young creatives met in the countryside of Austria to develop an app for the country of Carinthia in order to make public transport more efficient. The main aim was to invent a solution for a mobile application that you can use instead a ticket.

After a short explanation the groups, who have been selected from our country representatives, started working. During the first phase you could see a lot of movement. People were talking to each other and trying to find out the best idea for further development. The representative from the local government Peter Zenkl was more popular than a famous celebrity. All groups had some questions, how to make the best solution to win the hackathon. The prices were 5.000, 3.000 and 2.000 Euros.

There were people who were ready to start already from the beginning – other groups needed more time in order to find themselves and get acquainted with the location. Food and drinks were provided all the time and people were cared of 24 hours a day. Our seminar location Seminarwelt Seppenbauer wanted to enable us a great event. The only thing that they didn’t think about was that nerds attending a hackathon do not come with one device – they have several – so internet was broken down when everybody started working at the same time. They had to call the technician and after a short while that problem was fixed again. “There is no good hackathon without internet problems”, one participant who attended several hackathons told us.

After that first shock people continued working until the early hours of the next morning – some of the mentors who wanted to explore the nearby bars realized that there are no open bars in the countryside of Austria… so they also went to sleep.

The second day people started to gather in the morning – our get together at 10 am and 7pm was a fixed point to share experiences and talk about the proceeding. Also yoga was a fixed group activity for those who wanted to join. On the second day the mentors discussed further project ideas and helped the teams to formulate their ideas and bring them on paper for the jury decision.

This night there were not a lot of people who went to sleep – at least not a long time. The get-together in the morning was short because participants wanted to finish their solutions. Deadline was at 2pm and until then everything (baggage, check-out, food, finished presentation) needed to be fixed, because timetable was really tight.

The presentations started at 2:30 pm and the jury was ready for the solutions of the programmers. It was an interdisciplinary board of a university professor (Mathias Lux) an entrepreneur (Markus Schicho), a tech-lady from Austria-tech (Michaela Topolnik) and two representatives of the county of Carinthia (Peter Zenkl and Albert Kreiner).

The presentations where phenomenal – much better then expected from the contractors. The jury could ask questions and after the presentation of everybody they went outside to decide on the results. Meanwhile a voting of the audience took place. This voting also had the same winner as the jury: The team Koo-koo with their solution GoHappy. The second and the third price won teams from Croatia and Serbia.

After the result announcement the bus back home started again – we hoped that they make it on time to their connecting flights in Ljubljana and Zagreb and that the driver who brought them the forgotten passport, would not make them wait too long. Everything turned out well – and people came back home safe and sound – just one bag had to be sent back by post… but that is another story…

So all the teams and our partner organisations really did a great job and for realizing the first hackathon together – thanks it was just perfect. We are looking forward for further cooperation within the Alpe Adria region.