Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hackathon HH - 24 hours of awesomeness

It has been three and a half months since I relocated to Hamburg, DE. Working at a medium sized company is a very different experience from the entrepreneurial life I had for many years. The work is fun and it comes with consistent salary at the end of every month so that I can enjoy personal life. But once a while I have the urge to keep on working through the weekend and hack something. The urgency of a very short deadline and the chaos of a project without good specs is still very attractive.

That opportunity came knocking when I attended the Hamburg Hackathon last weekend (23, 24 May 2015). It was a 24 hour hackathon starting on Saturday at 13:30 hours and ending on Sunday at 13:30 hours. I have participated in Yahoo! OpenHack and other hackathons before and they were very large hackathons, with up to 400 people, very enjoyable, and very well organised. So when I went to the Hackathon HH, I had very mixed expectations. But I was very pleasantly surprised.

The hackthon was in its second year, and the level of organisation was already very high. Everything was on time and the organisers were very well coordinated. The venue was very fitting, and as far as I understood it was an old factory or warehouse turned into a startup hub. But the best part was the people. It was a surprisingly mixed bag of folks, not all weirdly geeky, but everyone was very curious to learn and do something.

The weather turned out to be great. It was sunny for the most part and very comfortable temperature. There was a surprise fitness bit where all of us participated for about half an hour of workout outside. It was certainly relaxing after many hours of sitting. When I went to the venue on Saturday morning, I had no intention to stay all through the night. But the overall atmosphere was so inviting that I felt I should have taken a sleeping bag. Sadly that was not the case, so I took a short sleep at home and went back early morning on Sunday.

The anxiety before the deadline was visible on many faces. But everyone was very much enjoying the whole experience. And for me that is the defining purpose of a hackathon - to learn, and experience what it feels to build something in a compressed time with like minded people, mostly strangers. The sponsors had different prizes for various categories, but most had prizes for best apps to use their APIs. Although winning prizes was not my aim, but I did feel like missing the chance for the LEGO sets there were awarded by Twitter. Leaving that bit aside, the hackathon ended on a very high note and I returned home with more determination to spend time learning new things and doing better hacks.

A big thanks to the Hamburg Geekettes and AppCamp

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