Thoughts from Dice's Mobile Hackathon

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Dice.com (Urbandale), the nearly 25 year old tech job board powerhouse, held it’s first ever hackathon last weekend at the DMACC/FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. #DiceMobileHackathon was aimed at getting applications built that test their new API but that was only a factor in one of the five prize categories. Overall they gave out $10,000 in cash on Sunday afternoon.

I really liked this event for a few reasons*:

1. They asked me to emcee. I’ve never done that before and it was a lot of fun. Also, as someone who has organized a lot of events, its way different (and in this case easier) to come in at the end after the hard work is done and stand up front with the mic. Plus, I got to bring my kid with me who now thinks thats what I do for work.

2. This is a great example of an established Iowa tech company making a dedicated effort to interface with the general technology community. And, it was open to anyone who registered (no airport-like security check to enter the building). The participating hackers ranged from folks at startups like Dwolla to folks at big corporate players like The Principal and students from several universities (including a van load from Concordia University in Wisconsin). Obviously they received some sort of branding/awareness benefit from having the event (DMR & SPN both wrote about it) and I’m sure the feedback on the API is helpful but that’s almost a side note.

3. Pure hackathons just don’t happen often in Iowa, yet. We probably have more than our share of Startup Weekends (per capita) - the business-y cousin of hackathons - and maybe that’s part of the reason why. Other than a few internal hackathons, the only similar event I could remember was back in 2012 when Dwolla gave the winning team a cow.

Related: Brad Dwyer's post on the value of student hackathons in education, Hacking our ecosystem.

*They also sponsored the Welch Avenue Show #Episode 25 - thanks Dice!

Photo Credit: Dwolla developers at #dicemobilehackathon via Dice on Facebook