Why Hackathons Are The New American Dream

AngelHack picking winner

Photo: Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider

One reason why hackathons are becoming more mainstream is that you can show up with an idea, pitch it to a group of talented engineers who work at Facebook and other major tech companies, assemble a team, and work all weekend.Then leave two days later with venture funding, office space, and a network of people to lean on for advice.

It’s the new American dream. That’s why this weekend, we are excited to attend two major hackathons.

The first is AngelHack, which will be held in San Francisco and Boston. Over the weekend, 900 people will be competing for $75,000 in prizes. Top angel investors such as Dave McClure of 500 Startups and Naval Ravikant of Angellist will be judges. The winning team has a chance to win a ticket on McClure’s Geeks On A Plane trip to China.

TechShop where Square started

Photo: TechShop

People who would rather get their hands dirty in a tool shop will likely be attending another, much smaller hackathon. 

Maker StartUp weekend will attract a different crowd than AngelHack: people interested in sewing, building robots, and printing out prototypes on a 3D printer will be working out of TechShop, a warehouse sized tool shop in San Francisco.

David Lang and Ahmed Siddiqui, the organisers of Maker StartUp Weekend, said they expect about 50 people due to a space limitation.

On Friday, there will be classes in 3D printing, laser cutting, and sewing. Everyone is going to pitch their ideas Friday night and then will spend the rest of the weekend building something. On Saturday, there is a Kickstarter panel, where three entrepreneurs, who have raised money on Kickstarter, will be answering questions and talking about their experiences. 

Lang told us, “We live in such an amazing time. You’ve been to TechShop and have seen these amazing prototyping tools. It’s putting the means of production back in the hands of everyday people.”

Siddiqui, who is an organiser for the Startup Weekend events in the Bay Area, agrees that hackathons are on the rise. “Startup Weekend is in every major city and people are starting to wake up,” Siddiqui said.

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