On November 5th & 6th the Lady Problems Hackathon will be taking place in Buenos Aires. This international movement is being hosted by Angel Hack, a community of hackers looking for solutions to everyday’s problems through tech innovation.
This Hackathon, launched only a couple of months ago, is looking to break the barriers preventing women from accessing entrepreneurship and the tech industry. From the very start the name provoked a certain discomfort, something hosts where intentionally aiming for. On an op-ed an Angel Hack representative explained the choice of such a controversial name: “We want people to be uncomfortable with the fact that women represent half of the global population, and reinvest 90 percent of their income into their families and communities, but earn just 10 percent of the world’s income.”
I will be taking part on the Buenos Aires event as a jury member and I thought it was the perfect occasion to answer a question that many in the tech industry ask themselves: why are hackathons worth the try? And in this particular case: why is it worth taking part on a hackathon that is focused on women?
Hackathons promote innovation. Nowadays, hacking has become a creative tool for problem solving. And not only tech problems. The Lady Problems, for instance is focused in finding innovative solutions to those problems faced by women at the workplace in terms of security, health, finances and culture, proving that coding can be useful beyond tech.
The event’s guidelines are defined so as to encourage participants to create products or think of interesting projects in a really short time. Though it is not expected for teams to present full developments on such a short time, this hackathon, like many others, invites the community to set a starting point for the large path that is building substancial & enduring solutions.
So far 285 hackers — men & women — have taken part on the international movement that is Lady Problems, and over 60 solutions have already been conceived. One that caught my attention is Tracker, a slack bot that identifies bias in the workspace created by the winning team of the New York edition of the hackathon. C# is also an interesting project born at the Sydney event which allows to visualize discriminative situations in VR.
Another aspect of Hackathons that makes them attractive to entrepreneurs is the fact that they usually give contestants access to accelerating programs.
For the Lady Problems, Angel Hack has created its first Social Good Accelerator, a global incubator focused on supporting those projects with a social impact that are born during the many hackathons. Winners will get access to this accelerating program & receive mentoring for 12 weeks.
This hackathon series has something special: it is looking to finance & promote the financing of projects in which women are involved. Why? Part of the answer is based on the fact that there is a huge gap in the funding of start-ups created or leaded by women worldwide. Only 10% of the global venture capital is invested on businesses run by women. The Lady Problems series wants to break this pattern.
Another reason that makes hackathons so relevant is the networking potential they provide since they gather a larger number of people sharing a common interest for both the event’s theme, and tech, of course. I highly believe we, as entrepreneurs, should be constantmy looking to stay in touch with our industry pairs and even seeking to form new ties: you never know when you might meet a future business associate or co-worker.
On the other hand, the ideas exchange that occurs between the contestants, the audience and even the jury members can be highly enriching: we can learn a lot from one another just by listening to the proposals that are born during a hackathon. Plus, this kind of events also helps communities strengthen ties around a solution to a common problem.
Angel Hack believes that heterogeneous teams are more interesting. Rachel Kartz, Director of Social Innovation for Angel Hack, expressed the company’s motto on an op-ed published recently:“we know that the best products come from the most diverse teams”.
This is something I fully agree on: interesting projects emerge when a team comprises members of both genders. The ways in which men and women face and solve problems are different. And this, instead of creating conflict should allow members of the team to complete one another and benefit when it comes to planning and executing actions.
In fact, more and more investors are looking for heterogeneous teams. According to a study published by Tech Crunch last April, between 2010 and 2015, 31,5 billion dollars of venture capital were invested in teams with a least one women co-founder. The outcome is similar when it comes to angel funding: 2,25 billion dollars were invested in the same period in heterogenous teams. This represents 17% of total angel investment around the world.
Are you also interested in promoting diversity among teams in tech? Then don’t miss the chance to take part on this hackathon series. I surely won’t.
Por Paula Ambrogi, Co-founder de Retargetly