13 Apr The Global Hackathon Movement
Hack For Big Choices Africa Meets Global Hackathon Seoul
[Part 6 in a series of 6. Read Part 1.]
When we began this series, we set out to talk about all of the important groups and human components that it took to run the largest hackathon ever in Africa. We covered the participants, mentors, partners, even winners. To close the series, we’d like to recognize our own global hackathon community.
To positively affect the outcome of others lives at a global level takes a whole international community. We at Hack For Big Choices are no strangers to this concept. This is why when we set out to produce our West Africa hackathon, we invited others in the global hackathon community to join us. South Korea’s Global Hackathon Seoul recognized the the emerging talent in West Africa, along with the importance of the critical issues being tackled. They provided our overall winner the opportunity to attend their global hackathon which will be held from July 29 – August 1, 2015.
We asked for their thoughts on both the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in West Africa and the important role that hackathons play, worldwide, in jumpstarting entrepreneurial talent.
[GHS was represented by their awesome African ambassador: Opata Chibueze]
An Interview With Global Hackathon Seoul
What are your thoughts on the emerging entrepreneurial community in West Africa?
West Africa is one of the fastest developing regions in sub-saharan Africa and Ghana, along with Nigeria, are currently in the lead in West Africa . Entrepreneurship is generally flourishing and growing fast as more teams and solutions rise to fill the growing concerns and challenges in Africa. Startup Hubs and similar schools play a very critical role in this and we were not the least surprised to see that many of the participants of the hackathon came from the MEST Entrepreneurial school in Ghana.
What was the energy and experience like at the hackathon?
Hack For Big Choices West Africa was unique in several ways and one of those ways was the energy. Personally I got the feeling that it was comprised of much more entrepreneurs than programmers and the result of that appeared to be quicker brainstorming, more socialization, and better presentations. It was also interesting to observe that there was an unusually good representation of female hackers at the event and this definitely contributed to the awesomeness of the event.
PharmSee was chosen as the grand prize winners. Could you elaborate on why they were selected and what you expect from them in the future?
Their Solution! One of the most interesting things to see in a hackathon is an awesome idea that is simple yet solves a big problem and could potentially grow into a big global solution. PharmSee was one of those solutions and although there were other great solutions, they outdid their counterparts by being able to present a more detailed research of their target market. It’s a solution that could quickly grow to become a household name in Ghana and Africa in general. [PharmSee solved local access to much needed medicines]
Do you have any future predictions for the start-up community in the West Africa region?
One of the most obvious things you get to find out in Africa is the energy. Africans are so passionate and energetic and with the current rapid economic growth in Nigeria as well as Ghana, more startups will certainly appear, VC capital will increase heavily, and some of the startups will eventually gain global brand recognition. Startup Hubs and Hackathons play a critical role in this and we hope to see more of both in Africa.
GHS will be one of the biggest technical hackathons ever held in the world. What were the main motivations that got the group started?
We have noticed that the culture and education system in South Korea is not conducive to the hacker and entrepreneurial mindsets. People are risk averse and don’t feel like they can make an impact or succeed in doing their own thing. We also realize that this is the case in many nations across the world. So how can we foster fresh and innovative thinking? Boom, hackathon. A large-scale, meaningful, international one. Collaboration on a global scale can show Seoul and other nations the possibilities when issues are approached with the right mindset.
Hackathons play a few important roles, that of the connector, facilitator, and influencer. As a connecter, hackathons have emerged as a prime event for companies to connect with amazing talent, as well as help connect young, spirited builders and makers with each other. As a facilitator, hackathons create an environment where hackers can hyperfocus and create awesome things that they would otherwise have taken much longer building. But most importantly, hackathons are capable of being a force of change when they have a clear goal resonating around social impact. By bringing together a powerful ecosystem of creators, policy makers, and industry influencers, hackathons can the voice and arms for progress.
What do you hope to accomplish through GHS?
There are so many big issues that affect everyone around the world. By uniting top-notch hackers, focusing their attention towards real problems, and involving policy makers and influencers, we’re hoping to be at a level where we can really make an impact. We want to be a statement on this world stage and instill the hacker mindset across the globe to inspire and empower everyone to take matters into their own hands and be a champion for positive change. And of course, have an amazing experience in beautiful South Korea while we’re at it.
What kind of advice does GHS have for budding entrepreneurs?
Being an entrepreneur does not mean you have to do it alone! Surround yourself with smarter, greater, better people than yourself and in these teachers and mentors, you’ll learn how to really make a difference . There is the craft of something, and the practice of it. Try to find something where you love both. Lastly… don’t be scared of failure; jump into it! Both failure and success are experiences you can grow from. Oh, and have fun. Always have fun!
Feel free to email us and share your stories of entrepreneurship at: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.s. The pictures of the hackathon in West Africa are finally online!