- 2 years ago


The world’s first hackathon was held in Calgary in June 1999, according to Wikipedia.

(And apparently the acronym LOL was also pioneered in Calgary, among other things.)

I am not sure how people track those kind of things but it’s pretty cool to think that the first hackathon was held right here in YYC. Here is my issue though: I think the word hack has a bad rep.

I’m not a coder or developer, so from the outside world, anytime I heard “hack” or “hackathon” I had this picture of coders who were hacking in and crashing peoples software under the cover of darkness. However, now that I am engrossed in the tech and startup world, I realized that I couldn’t be more wrong.

Hackathons are where brainstorm sessions and action comes to play. Hackathons are a place to meet new people, get inspired and create solutions in a very short time frame.

Hackathons are a community of like minded people (coders, programmers, designers, developers, biz dev and project managers) who get together to work on projects or solve a problem or work on an open sourced project. They are hungry for innovation; they want to make real change in the world.

Coming from my years in working for big corporations, my creativity got jammed up in the big cog. Big business is hungry for innovation and there are brilliant people working for them… but, for some reason or another, the ideas would get bogged down in red tape and two years later we still had nothing. No new software, no new product—we were stuck. 

Then you look at startups. They are quick, agile and implement ideas quickly. If the idea doesn’t work they move on and do a different one. So how do we bridge the gap between big businesses and the agility of startups?

I am pretty excited about HackYYC. It’s AcceleratorYYC’s first enterprise hackathon with Critical Mass, a renowned global digital agency headquartered in Calgary. Critical Mass works with brands like Nissan and Citi to create experiences that benefit their customers and their businesses, while AcceleratorYYC is a pillar of Calgary’s startup ecosystem with hundreds of thought leaders and hungry entrepreneurs engaging, accelerating, and innovating big ideas.

Unlike many traditional hackathons, this event will focus on problems that need the speed and agility of startup innovation, but solve an interesting problem with real customers in mind.

Critical Mass has presented three challenges and you must provide the solutions. Every solution and every idea goes towards winning a life changing contract worth up to $50,000 with Critical Mass (this is not in kind, or services, this is real money for real innovation). This ensures that the most innovative ideas get across the finish line and into peoples hands.

The first hackathon was held in Calgary. And now the first enterprise hackathon will be, too.