• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Get Thee To A Hackathon!

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A high-pressure cooker for startup ideas, many women have attended – and won – hackathons.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

When I visit New York next weekend, I will be attending the Hack’n Jill hackathon where there is one woman for every man. And while I am a web designer/developer, non-technical entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend hackathons such as Startup Weekends and AT&T Hackathons. In San Francisco alone, there are two hackathons this coming weekend – a solar hackathon and a RadiumOne hackathon.

There is no better or faster way to move forward on a website or mobile app idea than to go to a hackathon. Hackathons are usually weekend events where designers, developers, marketers and business people get together with the common goal of making something happen that weekend. By that, I mean, build a product. Make your dream a reality.

Women 2.0 Startup Weekends

Designer Alexa Andrzejewski brought the idea for Foodspotting (and some great visual mockups of the product in Photoshop) to the 2008 Women 2.0 Startup Weekend and walked away from the hackathon with her first angel investor. Today, Foodspotting is a venture-funded startup in San Francisco celebrating milestones like a million downloads.

Gallery owner Tricia Rampe attended the 2011 Women 2.0 Startup Weekend with her idea for Get Art Up, built the prototype over the weekend (with the team she met and assembled at the event) and is now actively fundraising for her startup.

Women Win Hackathons

iOS developer and teacher Bess Ho has explained how to win hackathons. Entrepreneur Kimberly Hsiao recently won her first hackathon, the Chartboost game hackathon in San Francisco. Engineer Hadiyah Mujhid blogged about almost winning $20k at the AT&T hackathon. And yes, even non-technical women can win a hackathon.

Keep The Momentum Going

Freuqent hackathon attendee – and winner – Chiu-Ki Chan took her Monkey Write app from hackathon to the market. Hackathons are weekend sprints to go from idea to product, even if an embarrassingly clunky prototype. You can spend the next few weekends shiny-ing it up, but the important thing is to get the product out in the market for feedback and interations.

Hackathon attendees are encouraged to apply to the Women 2.0 startup competition, PITCH NYC 2012, by August 31 for $25k cash and other prizes. Applying to a business plan competition helps codify your venture, improves your startup pitch, forces you to really think about your business model, financial plan and exit plan.

As women, we’re often told we’re not ambitious enough, so let’s think big and aim for the stars! Apply to PITCH onstage in front of a thousand of your fellow Women 2.0 in NYC this November at PITCH NYC. Mark your calendar for August 31 – that’s the deadline to apply.

Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the “+1″ for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.