Why We’re Excited for Hello, Hackathon!

Next month, LaunchCode, GlobalHack and the Prosper Institute will come together for Hello, Hackathon!, a beginner-friendly event where teams will work to design an app or website to solve real-world problems.

Hello, Hackathon!
Photo courtesy GlobalHack

No coding experience is necessary; teams of up to four will spend the day at the LaunchCode Mentor Center solving a yet-to-be-released community problem by prototyping ideas, learning how to use industry design tools, prototyping tools and drag-and-drop editors, and utilizing mockups and other materials to present their ideas visually on stage at the end of the day.

Three meals, free Wifi and snack will be provided. Don’t have a team? You can show up, meet others and form a team that day.

We reached out to GlobalHack’s executive director Matt Menietti to learn more about Hello, Hackathon! and why this particular event was created right now.

Where did the idea for Hello, Hackathon! stem from?

In the months after GlobalHack last year, there were a few casual conversations where we talked about how we could get more people in St. Louis involved in the event. LaunchCode and Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) had helped with outreach around GlobalHack V, but interest from their participants just wasn’t where any of us thought it could be.

They saw it is a valuable opportunity for their program participants to gain experience and get engaged in the St. Louis entrepreneurial and tech communities. But comments such as, “I don’t think I’d have anything to offer a team,” or “There’s no way I could compete,” were common. Hence, the idea to provide an alternative first hackathon experience that directly addresses these concerns.

Also, since most of our target participants don’t even need to know or want to know how to code, participating in an event like Hello, Hackathon! can help them better understand the design process and how technology can help them scale their business. Technology-based tools around e-commerce, project management, and relationship management are all resources that these aspiring entrepreneurs can use to be more efficient and impactful.

Why is it important to you and the other organizing partners to introduce this type of event in St. Louis right now?

The entrepreneurial and tech communities in St. Louis are growing, and Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) and LaunchCode work to ensure the opportunities presented by this growth are more widely accessible to anyone wanting to start a business, change their career, or otherwise participate. Hackathons are a crucial doorway to this opportunity, providing real-world problem-solving experience to participants and connecting them to a broader network of entrepreneurs and coders.

But for those that have never participated in one, hackathons can seem predominantly about competition rather than the valuable experience that they provide. Hello, Hackathon! is designed to more directly engage new participants, to provide an experience that acknowledges their curiosity and newness to the event while focusing less on competition and more on inclusion.

What would you like to see as a result after this event?

The primary goal is to increase participation in hackathons by women and those that have recently learned code, and to make the opportunities presented by these events more widely accessible. Most directly, this means more of these individuals will participate in GlobalHack this year and in future years.

Of course, all three organizations are invested in civic and social equity issues, so increasing engagement around the problems our city faces is also a huge win.