AngelHack Boston: Notes from the floor


AngelHack Boston, a 30-hour hackathon, drew a couple hundred developers, programmers (and entrepreneurs seeking developers and programmers) to the Cambridge Innovation Center Saturday morning.

The goal of these hackathons is exposure — to other developers, to venture capitalists — and also some cash and prizes. This event is happening in tandem with AngelHack San Francisco with finalists in each city to be named Sunday night. Then the top picks in both cities will face off Monday night.

Some entrants came solo, looking to recruit programming or other talent for their project. Others came as fully formed pods, ready to roll. “There’s one team here from MIT. They don’t even want to meet anyone,” said AngelHack organizer Greg Gopman.

Here’s the drill, according to the AngelHack site:

As a contestant, your team has exactly 30 hours to develop a web-based application. The competition kicks off at 12:00pm on March 3rd, 2012 and will end at 5:59PM on March 4th, 2012.

Teams can have one to five people. Robots, aliens and super heroes are prohibited. “However,” according to the site, “team members should feel free to dress as robots, aliens and superheroes.”

Here are takeaways from day one — my first-ever hackathon.

1:  Have programming skills, will travel.

These hardy souls will go far to write code, not sleep, write code, (probably) drink a lot of beer, and write more code.

Wharton Business School student-slash-road warrior Patrick Leahy arrived from Philadelphia Friday. He and his colleague Justin Meltzer will work around the clock. He plans to crash locally for a day after the event, then hop a bus for the 72-hour trip to SXSW in Austin. This just weeks after completing the 18  48-hour PennApps hackathon.

2: Health is a big concern.

One proposed smartphone app, dubbed Psyri, aims to help depressed patients use SMS to update their psychiatrists about symptoms in near-real-time. Most psychiatrists can’t see patients that often so this would help them better track how medications are working.

3:  Passive-aggression can be big.

One entrant is working on a game in which friends can “screw each other over,” while another pitched a site to help rivals work together.

4: It’s not all about programmers.

The leader of one project, a website that would let travelers lock-in the best airfare in advance, came in search of “quants” and/or economists.

5: Hackers love music and musicians.

One entrant pitched a web site to help muscians find places to play and to stay. The pitch: “I’m not doing this for money. I love music and musicians.”

After a few hours of networking, lunch, set up and initial pitches by the teams looking for help, they were all off and working.



Anyone from GigaOM coming to cover the SF event? come talk to us! The Pintics team – Making Pinterest a better experience for power users.

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