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2015 Warby Parker Hackathon

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Insights by NYC Sales and Marketing Intern Emily Upson

 

What makes a successful Hackathon, you ask?

Had you asked me this a few weeks ago, I would have no idea. Frankly, I wasn’t completely confident in my definition of of a Hackathon. However, as an intern in the NY office of MKTG, I was able to work on my very first Hackathon, and it was awesome.

On July 18-19, MKTG INC produced a Hackathon for our client Warby Parker in partnership with the City of NY Office of Tech and Innovation at Civic Hall in the Flatiron District. The goal was to bring together 100 summer interns from companies in the area to spend a 24 hour period in lock down, solving a technology issue for three non-profits. Basically, a tech-for-good initiative.

As part of the core team, we worked for months for this to come off without a hitch. From venue selection to sponsorship procurement to donation outreach, collateral design, run-of-show, speaker training, intern recruitment, staffing and all the way through to production, it was a huge undertaking.

At kick off around 3pm on Saturday, July 18th, nearly 100 talented tech interns from the NYC area gathered for 24-hours to compete against each other for rewards that went far beyond bragging rights. Unlike my previous interpretation of a hackathon – cracking codes, breach firewalls – these interns used their tech skills and savvy to solve current issues faced by prominent NYC non-profits: Blue Ridge Labs, NYC Department of Homeless Services, and Donorschoose.org.

Although these interns were working tirelessly throughout the night, this isn’t to say they weren’t having fun, and they definitely weren’t going hungry. Participants could blow off steam by playing foosball or ping-pong, flying mini drones, and solving Rubik’s cubes, while consistent bouts of meals – a boatload (like hundreds and hundreds of tubs) of delicious Tribe Hummus of every variety, jars upon jars of candy, mountains of food, and of course #HudsonHack gear and toys kept them on their toes.

After hours of hard work, 24 to be exact, each team of 3-4 interns presented their final pitches to a panel of impressive judges including Minerva Tantoco, NYC’s Chief Technology Officer; Shelley Leibowitz, Board of Directors of E*TRADE and former CIO of Morgan Stanley and World Bank; and Alan Wade, Board of Trustees of The Aerospace Corporation and former CIO of the CIA.

The teams were judged on multiple aspects of their presented solutions, the most important factor being social innovation that solves an issue for the the greatest good. For example, one team developed an interactive map that showed where specific donations have the most impact, to an app that allows families to find safe educational events for their children during the summer break. In the end, the riseUP app won for incentivizing donations from diners and participating NYC restaurants to aid homeless shelters and kitchens in the area.

Overall, it was a ton of work but such an incredible experience.  And working with a brand like Warby Parker was so much fun. It’s an amazing company with a cool culture that I really enjoyed being part of. Thanks to MKTG for this great opportunity I always remember fondly. What a great summer this has been!

 

 

 

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