By Vera Glavova (Organizer, BeMyApp WeekEnd) It’s been roughly 3 months since I stood in front of 100 strangers and hosted my first tech event. Today, some of them are my buddies and great supporters. I’m over my stage fright as I know I’ll see familiar faces next time I grab the mic and open BeMyApp Weekend.
My Addiction: Organizing Hackathons
The most rewarding thing about organizing hackathon events is the interaction with people who are capable of building on the spot from scratch. Seeing the progress of something that kick-starts as a 60-second idea pitch and 48 hours later turns into a working app is staggering and addictive, hence once I did it I was hooked. Another inspiring aspect of bringing folks with different vocations and skill-sets together is the "click". That special click one nearly hears when a few people fit so perfectly together as a team, you wonder if they have known each other forever.
BeMyApp WeekEnd will be the tri-monthly mobile app hackathon that accelerates interaction and collaboration between creatives, doers, and makers -- a tech event with a spirit that provides a venue for people with ideas to share their vision and join forces with other capacities. Everyone pitches in and everyone gets something out of the experience.
Unlike the widespread notion of hackathons being quite chaotic and format-agnostic, we (you didn’t think I’m in it alone, did you?) try to keep it organized and actually follow a format. On day one, thirty registered idea architects have 1 minute to pitch their iOS project to a tech audience. Attending engineers and designers vote for the most promising ideas and after a speed-dating session, teams are formed and the race is on. Throughout the weekend we run two video checkpoints with the teams in which they demonstrate the development progress of their apps. On Saturday evening, in-house demo night is held – we rehearse, give each other feedback and prepare for the big night.
On Sunday evening, all teams showcase their prototypes and a panel of experts selects the winning application. Each group has 5 minutes to demo the app prototype and another 5 for Q&A. The jury members give the teams invaluable feedback to help them master the app and get it off the ground. The criteria according to which the judges select the winning app are:
- Stickiness/ Users’ long-term engagement with the app
- Business potential
A prize pool is designed to give the victorious team a leg up to maintain the startup momentum and continue with the app development.
If you are curious to see the apps built during BeMyApp in March, sneak a peek at some of the interviews with the teams.
A Bit About the Girls
Being my first venture in event organizing, every single registration confirmation I received filled me with joy, especially those that came from women. In my enthusiasm, I even went as far as emailing each new attendee individually to welcome and thank them for signing up. When in a single day nearly 30 people registered, I realized the time for a newsletter has come.
Out of 220 people who registered, only 12% were women. This amount includes developers, designers and idea generators. Some brilliant mobile app concepts were shared by incredibly interesting women – an environmental activist, and artist, and a former journalist currently working at the Clinton Global Initiative, were among the women who pitched an idea. Five teams were formed on Friday evening and three of them had a female designer on board - Potsie Rivera, Yosun Chang, and Nanette Rosen did everything from designing to helping up with a business plan. Regardless of the relatively small representation, the ladies were badass. I’m positive that the number of women attendees will grow with each event. It has to.
The Next One
Shortly after the last event in March, I was itchy to start organizing the next one. Full of new ideas and lessons learned, yet encouraged by the positive feedback, I quickly caught up with sleep and soon BeMyApp Weekend #2 was in the making.
On June 3rd, me and a room full of people are in for another 3 days of idea shaking and app making. Citizen Space will be our home (the venue is open 24/7 for those who can’t get enough of hacking) and will also sponsor the winners with a month of free co-working membership. FreeAppADay, another amazing friend and supporter of BeMyApp, is also sponsoring the prize pool. The Ultimate BeMyApp Winner will be promoted in the “Daily Double” category of FAAD, for 24 hours and for free once released in the App Store. If you have the resources to provide a sexy prize for the winners or you are interested in any form of collaboration, let’s talk.
Join me. If not for the hacking, come for the fun! BeMyApp WeekEnd is absolutely free. Register here.
About the guest blogger: Vera Glavova started organizing BeMyApp WeekEnds in November 2010 and her first hackathon took place March 2011. Previously, she was a senior editor at the International Relations Journal of San Francisco State University where Vera’s article "No Man’s Land" was published in 2010. Vera is an aspiring human rights and sustainable agriculture advocate and was a program assistant at the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). Follow her on Twitter at @bemyapp.