By mid-week, most people in the Triangle’s startup scene have probably already forgotten what they did on Sunday. But I haven’t.
I’m still excited about the four hours I spent judging BattleHack
, a free 24-hour hackathon sponsored by PayPal and Braintree.dev this past Sunday.
Braintree is an online payment platform for startups, acquired by PayPal for $800 million in 2013. Braintree.dev is focused on developer relations, and BattleHack is an effort to bring together communities of developers and get them coding solutions that integrate PayPal, Venmo or technology from other partners.
Corporate ties aside, what they’re doing is honestly pretty awesome. Raleigh was the hackathon’s fourth stop on a 14-city world tour, and 19 teams pitched after staying up all night developing MVPs (literally, they had around the clock coffee, massages, and a nap room. No Sleep Till…Battlehack?).
In addition to incorporating PayPal technology, each team was required to develop an application with some sort of social impact, a criteria that struck home with me given HQ Raleigh’s focus on social entrepreneurship.
But that’s not why I’m still excited.
The winning team, a group called PairCode
(pictured above), is a collaboration between a local female entrepreneur and developers from one of our region’s top startups. They’ll represent the Triangle in the global BattleHack Finals in Silicon Valley this November, competing against winning teams from cities like London, Tel Aviv, Los Angeles and Tokyo for a $100K prize. Here's a blog post
about PairCode's win from PayPal.
PairCode hatched out of conversations between Magdalyn Duffie
, former community organizer for Tech Talent South
, and Jason Humphries
, an iOS engineer at the fast-growing startup WedPics
. Duffie was hosting weekly “Kids Code Tuesdays,” free after school sessions where local kids could learn some simple coding skills through interactive lesson plans, but the classes continued to be waitlisted. She started looking for other ways to make free coding lessons accessible to any family that might be interested. Humphries, an iOS engineer, latched onto the idea and they knew they could develop something big.
In just 24 hours, the team (along with two other developers from WedPics) developed PairCode, which provides an easy and entertaining way to teach kids how to code via simple one or two-person programming games.
I talked with Duffie at the event, where she told me, “The whole experience was incredible—we hacked all through the day and night, got to hear some awesome ideas from folks around the Triangle and beyond who travelled to participate, and are so honored to be representing Raleigh at the International finals in San Jose!”
When the team heads to Silicon Valley this fall, they’ll be a snapshot of what’s happening in our region: increasing support of women in entrepreneurship through groups like e51 and SOAR
, venture-backed tech companies that are committed to staying and growing in North Carolina, initiatives that nurture the next generation of tech and entrepreneurial talent, and a community that’s willing and ready to collaborate for social good.