Petite & Minimal

Hackathon For Women 2019 – Report From Team Minimal

September 14th, 2019 | 8 minutes to read

As a largely self-taught, other-careers-turned web developer, I have to admit, hackathon sounds daunting to me at first. When I think of hackers, I don’t picture me as one (yet). However, when I heard about the “World’s Largest Hackathon for Women” in Stockholm, I said to myself, why not? So I joined!

Why women’s hackathon?

When questioned about why organizing a women’s hackathon, Tyler Crowley, the organizer behind the STHLM TECH FEST, said: “there is a lot of talk about equality, but what we have to do now is to have more workshops and less talk. For me, this is the most important part of the STHLM TECH FEST this year. But usually, 95% of hackathon attendees are male, so I really want to create a hackathon where women feel comfortable to participate.”

What’s the difference?

First of all, compared to ordinary hackathon, this one is more focused on ideas, and less on the coding part. It’s also given fairly short time and loosely arranged. Any age, any occupation can participate. The goal is to encourage women to participate in technology, and work on projects that benefit women or have big social impact or minimize environmental footprints. “The main goal is to give these women the skills, the confidence and the inspiration to attend more hackathons in the future.” Tyler Crowley says.

Choosing teammates

Unlike other hackathon, where you already have friends as your team mates, most women who join the challenge don’t know each other. So it’s a great way to network with like-minded people, but the downside is your team mates might not see to the end, you never know! We lost two on the Day 2, but we still made it!

The rules

Several companies sponsored the challenges, and we must compete within a topic range that is related to the company’s core business, and provide a solution that has great social and environmental impact. The Minimal Team belongs to Stora Enso, which is a Swedish company that focuses on renewable materials.

The Timeline

Day 1 7:30pm to 1am Idea pitch, initial idea discussion at Stockholm City Hall Day 2 7:00am to 3:30pm execute, plan, prototype at each team’s sponsoring company, then we pitch the company, only one team can win and will be presented and invited to dinner at Stockholm City Hall (where Nobel prizes are handed!)

STHLM TECH FEST

Day 2 we were all invited to Stora Enso’s office in the World Trade Center in downtown in Stockholm. Food and drinks are provided by the company. I want to particularly thank them for including vegan options!

“In our office spaces, we have chosen renewable materials to the greatest extent possible, and we don’t allow disposable packages and are working with our landlord to find new ways for improved and increased recycling of waste.” Lars Gunnar Olsson, Stora Enso Facility Manager, told us.

Stora Enso Office

The Minimal Team

anukriti-banerjee

Is this your 1st Hackathon:

I have been to one other hackathon before but this was on a much larger scale and so it was really exciting to understand and learn from the different challenges and perspectives

Why do you choose Stora Enso team:

Talking about slowing climate change, using our resources better, and minimizing wastage isn't new but the solutions to enable such processes haven't been explored in their full capacity. When we talk about taking action, the core ideas of using less and using better while minimizing our ecological footprint seem obvious but our present solutions don't enable us to adopt these practices easily. That's why Stora Enso’s challenge was of particular interest to me. It's relevant, now more than ever, to the wider societal goals, and to me personally, given my background in Geography.

What is your strength that you bring to the team:

My multidisciplinary background, previous hackathon experience, some design experience and the will to learn and adapt.

What have you learnt from this Hackathon:

I think my greatest takeaway from this hackathon is gaining an appreciation for the process itself. Often, while problem solving at our jobs or in our life, we spend a lot of time on ideating and validating the market before producing any solutions. Although I'm not discounting the value of these processes, it's amazing how a group of people who've never met each other, come together and produce something concrete to target actual problems that they may not even have heard of, in less than 24 hours. Imagine if more people collaborated and facilitated knowledge-sharing in this manner; free of judgement and free of boundaries. The possibilities are endless.

I also really appreciated that this hackathon was especially for women. It plays a critical role to encourage female innovation in a sector that is undoubtedly male-dominated. What's really amazing is how often I forgot that this was an all-female hackathon because the process just felt so natural. There was no “special” element because of the nature of the event, just a judgement-free zone. I come from a non-tech background so traditionally words like “hackathon” intimidate me to some extent because I always question whether I'll be of any value to the team I join. But this event was open to women from all backgrounds so I felt at ease. I also walked away with knowledge about RFID technology - something I didn't even know existed, let alone know how to use it for environmental good!

magdalena-larsson

Is this your 1st Hackathon:

Yes, it is my first hackathon and since I thought it was a really fun experience I have already signed up for a few other ones.

Why do you choose Stora Enso team:

I am very passionate about sustainability and more specifically on how to combine technology and sustainability. I felt like Stora Ensos hackathon challenge contained both of those elements.

What is your strength that you bring to the team:

Since I have both a social science and technological background I can contribute with both an analytical approach as well as technological knowledge in computer systems, information systems and IT security.

What have you learnt from this Hackathon:

I have learnt a lot from my talented fellow teammates who all had insight into and knowledge of different areas that helped make the project run smoothly. I have also gained a lot of insight into the business part of a start-up which I did not have before. I look forward to attending more hackathons in the future.

monika-kubiak

Is this your 1st Hackathon:

Not first in general, but first on Sthlm Tech Fest

Why do you choose Stora Enso team:

I’m interested in sustainability and wanted to contribute to a challenge where technology can make an impact on that

What is your strength that you bring to the team:

Analytical approach and knowledge about data analysis, data warehousing, IoT, Blockchain

What have you learnt from this Hackathon:

As it often is with hackathons - it’s impressive to see how much you can do within such a short time and that was the case here! I think we were really lucky to have such a great mix of people in the team with different backgrounds and therefore lots of discussions and brainstorming. I also appreciate the possibility to meet people with more entrepreneurial/start-up mindset, so innovative and passionate about the possibilities that technology brings.

annie taylor chen

Is this your 1st Hackathon:

Yes.

Why do you choose Stora Enso team:

I am an eco-friendly lifestyle blogger and sustainability is an important thing that I care a lot. Although all the other challenges are equally exciting, I just think for this one, at least I have some previous reading and understanding.

What is your strength that you bring to the team:

I have some experience with layout, design and prototype. I also have some ideas that I could plan and share. I developed the idea that we brainstormed in the Day 1 to something more concrete where we could start with, which made our Day 2 slightly easier.

What have you learnt from this Hackathon:

I think it’s very interesting even though it’s not heavily code involved. We didn’t pull any API or data to really make our case (which I was a bit nervous about because I am afraid I code too slow!), but that was perhaps perfect for the 1st hackathon experience.

I am very lucky to have great teammates and together we made something really nice, considering how little time we had. When it comes to coding, I mostly code alone, so it’s one of the rare chances to have some team experience related to product innovation and development.

I am also impressed by so many ladies’ strong ability to articulate and present ideas, I think as developers, this is something we need to improve, as presenting ideas and communicating clearly with confidence is an important skill.

I also heard about technology (watermark, RFID, Lidar?) that I’ve never heard before today. It’s simply eye-opening.

In the end, we didn’t win, but we all learnt a lot from each other and it was a great experience. “The passion and ideas that came through the hackathon were inspiring. All the teams were able to push the boundaries and think outside the box. In the end, the winning concept was one, which was able to formulate a quick-win solution to the larger challenge of adoption of the circular bio-economy.” Pranav Chandra, Head of Digital Intelligence and Advisory from Stora Enso commented.

Are you curious about what we came up with in a short time?

Here is our presentation

And here is our cute consumer app prototype

We hope our experience can inspire you too! Are you a woman and have you attended a hackathon? Please share your experience! Do you know a woman who is curious but hesitates to try hackathon, please share this with her!