Mar 7, 2016 - Things to Do

Charlotte’s biggest overnight Hackathon is back for year four. Here’s what to know

hackathonclt header

photo via HackathonCLT

Disclosure: I was formerly employed by Tresata, a HackathonCLT founding organization, and planned this event in 2014 and 2015. I have no involvement this year.

If you’ve spent any time in the startup scene in Charlotte, odds are you’ve heard complaints about a lack of tech talent in the area.

HackathonCLT, now in its fourth year of production, has set out to flip that script by spotlighting rockstar talent, providing hands on experience with real world data problems and fostering relationships between the business sector and the existing and emerging talent pool.

The lofty end goal is to make Charlotte the Silicon Valley of the Southeast.

HackathonCLT was founded on the belief that creating a world-class annual coding competition here at home is one slow, steady step in that direction.

photo via Facebook
photo via Facebook

This year’s event will take place Friday, March 18 through Saturday, March 19 in the PORTAL building at UNC Charlotte.

Yes, that means you stay up and work all night. Meals are provided, including midnight snacks and loads of caffeine overnight. Participants are required to remain on site the entire time to be eligible to win the next day. I swear to you this is a lot of fun balanced with extreme levels of sleepless suffering. You’ll be fine.

Pro tip: Bring your toothbrush and a change of clothes to freshen up on day two.

via HackathonCLT.org
via HackathonCLT.org

You can compete alone but a 3-person team is recommended.

The best Hackathon team trifecta includes a designer, a coder and a presenter. These three skill sets will lead you to the most well-rounded final product to present to the judges on Saturday.

Pro tip: Select your teammates ahead of time. If you’re still rolling solo on event night, use the kickoff party as a chance to network with others who might also be in search of a team.

photo via Facebook
photo via Facebook

All skill levels are welcome (but you must be 18+ to participate and 21+ to drink, obviously).

There are three different competition categories to accommodate a wider range of skill sets. So if true coding isn’t your forte, you could still create a killer business plan and present it in the ‘Freestyle’ category.

Pro tip: Don’t bail early because you don’t think you have the skills. If you don’t think you have a winning solution to the problem, look at the event as a chance to learn something new. My experience is that participants at this event are more collaborative than competitive and are genuinely interested in helping people learn. So hang around and see what you can soak up.

via HackathonCLT.org
via HackathonCLT.org

You’ll be working with real data to solve an actual business problem.

This year’s dataset will be provided by Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and the problem to solve involves increasing the effectiveness of food distribution to those in need. In years past, data has come from Harris Teeter so this is a new social twist on what is traditionally presented as a retail problem.

Pro tip: Do a little research on the data sponsor prior to the event so you’re not coming in blind.

photo via Facebook
photo via Facebook

You have to bring your own equipment.

You’re responsible for your own laptop (although some people bring in full desktop setups) and any other gear you need for the night.

Pro tip: Does this go without saying? Don’t forget your charger.

photo via Facebook
photo via Facebook

You’re competing for some serious cash prizes.

One winner in each category will walk away with cash–$5,000 for the HACK category, $2,000 for the CODE category and $1,000 for the FREESTYLE category.

Pro tip: You can’t cash the giant check you’ll be handed for photo ops. Nice try.

photo via Facebook
photo via Facebook

Registration is totally free.

What are you waiting for? Sign up here.

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