I’ve attended only a handful of hackathons thus far (BeMyApp as YC/IC, bit.ly as IC, podio as YC/IC, factual as YC/IC), and I’ve been lucky enough to always place something in each, but it seems like there are other factors involved… It seems like there’s a trend on the gender/race of people who win. Maybe it’s statistically more likely that these types enter, but it seems the judges have a preconceived notion on the people who “ought” to win being the ones more likely to carry the project forward.
It is always a duo of young white guys who win the grand prize. The misc-other types of teams come up runner’s up. In the Factual hackathon this weekend, the same gender-racial-ageo profiling occurred.
- The grand prize at the Factual hackathon went to two white guys, who created a web-based foursquare clone. The second went to an old Indian and young Chinese guy who created the only medical app brazen enough to be powered by spotty factual data. The third went to two different parties — team 1 = two old white guys on visualizations based on an existing platform; team 2 = young Chinese girl and young white guy on augmented reality-Minecraft foursquare crowdsourced-data checking. (YWM + YWM, OIM + YCM, OWM + OWM / YWM + YCF)
- The podio hackathon grand prize (a trip to Copenhagen) went to a team of two young white guys and a white girl, and the second prize (iPad2) went to two white guys. The third went to two young white guys and a Chinese girl. (YWM + YWM + YWF, YWM + YWM, YWM + YWM + YCF)
- The bemyapp March grand prize went to two young white guys, and the honorable mention went to the odd misc team of a young Indian guy, a young white guy, an old Indian guy, an old white guy, and a young Chinese girl. It was a large team, so only the young white guy and old white guy went onstage to present. (YWM + YWM, YIM + YWM + OIM + OWM + YCF)
- The bit.ly hackathon in NYC, I attended “virtually” by myself, so can’t comment on the who’s who. It happened the week or so after processingjs finally gave out 1.0, so it was a fun exercise on processingjs visualizations of bit.ly data.
It’s all about the unbreakable iconography and mythos of the archetypal two young white guys taking on that Silicon Valley Greek gods role in getting the next potential-looming tech startup up and going. Statistically speaking, white guys are more likely to enter, so they have a higher chance of winning. And yet…
I’m going to try three more hackathons as “myself”-ish … which, during cram time, tends to be that scary-looking Chinese girl with a mess of crazy uncombed oily-dandruff hair. If that doesn’t work, I am seriously going to pull a Mulan on these – just to see what’d happen. Something disruptive. Hopefully.