After weeks of preparation and 24 hours straight of nonstop coding, the inaugural Free Enterprise Hackathon is officially in the books. Here are some of our favorite moments from the overnight event, as well as a rundown of who won—and what they created.
For anyone who hasn’t already heard, we decided to host this hackathon to fix a problem we came across. Here’s how we described it in a post earlier this month:
“Even though there are many sources for jobs data, there aren’t any that specifically address what actual businesses are doing to boost the economy. By holding the hackathon, which will take place over the weekend of October 17th, we’re inviting some of the brightest minds in technology and data science to “hack” this problem and create an altogether new way to measure the effect that these kinds of businesses are having across the U.S.”
While we were expecting there would be interest in the hackathon, we were surprised at just how much interest in drew. More than 50 people in eight teams participated, with attendees hailing from throughout the tri-state area and beyond.
The level of talent and creativity on display at the hackathon was pretty amazing to see. Tasked with utilizing at least one of a number of preselected resources— ADP, Dun and Bradstreet, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, Data.gov, and Quandl—the participating teams did not disappoint.
Yet there can only be one first-place-winning team, a distinction that went to Team Growth Economic Trends Map (GETMap). GETMap won for their web application that helps visualize the economic impact of small and medium business on their states by providing a simple state economic impact score based on a number of categories of data. Apart from serious bragging rights—did we mention this is the first-ever Free Enterprise Hackathon?!?—each member of Team GETMap received a $1,000 American Express gift card, desk space at D.C. incubator and seed fund 1776, and networking opportunities with the Free Enterprise team.
Not to be forgotten, the second-place prize of the night went to Team Job Hunt. Made up of teammates Hua Wang and Mike Whitfield, Job Hunt aims to arm small and medium sized businesses, as well as government and job seekers, with the facts and insights they need to make strategic and policy decisions. For their hard work and ingenuity, all members of the team received a $350 Apple gift card. Their project also caught the attention of our partner, HP, who awarded team Job Hunt with GoPro cameras.
Aside from the event’s winning entries, there was a lot to see and experience at the hackathon. A lot goes on, after all, when you invite talented people to solve a singular problem—and provide them with all the Red Bull and snack food they could possibly hope for. Here are some of our other favorite moments from the night.
Some of the attendees came with teams already in place, while others, such as our second place team, met on site. Team Job Hunt was in the latter camp, with team member Hua Wang noting that this was her first hackathon ever (she’s also the co-founder of SmartBridge, and her teammate is an entrepreneur as well). Attendees cleared their minds with rounds of Centipede and Pac-Man played on vintage machines, Nerf gun battles, and giant Jenga. Also, there was a dance-off—a dance-off at a hackathon.
Though the hackathon might have come to a conclusion, make sure you stay tuned over the coming weeks for updates. The hackathon might be over—at least this year’s anyway—but now we get to dive into what the winning teams have created, drawing on their expertise and creativity to help us better tell the stories of the men and women behind American business.