Vodafone “hackathon” looks to develop mobile innovation, all for a good cause

Developers should treat hackathons as an opportunity to hone their skills, an expert says, after the Vodafone Foundation announced it will host a hackathon on behalf of charities next month.


Marius Kraemer, founder of mobile social network Matewire, hosted a 24-hour hackathon at Sydney co-working space Fishburners last month.


The goal of the event was to build apps in less than 24 hours with less than 1,000 lines of code, in the hope of creating a viral app.


Kraemer says the hardest thing for an app developer to do is start, which is why hackathons can be so helpful.


“In these events you’re forced to start something and you actually have a product at the conclusion. Some are finished and some are unfinished, but you get over the challenge of starting something,” he says.


“These events can create entrepreneurs because you realise how awesome the thrill is and how good it is to start something on your own. It’s a great opportunity to start something.”


Kraemer’s comments come on the back of an announcement by the Vodafone Foundation, which is hosting a hackathon dubbed App Aid from September 20 to September 22 in Sydney


The 48-hour event, supported by Facebook and Samsung, will see app developers collaborate with selected charities to “code for a cause” and create apps that have a social impact.


App Aid will challenge 10 teams – each consisting of three members from one charity and four app developers – to produce a smartphone app that adds value to that charity and the community.


According to Demelza Farr, head of the Vodafone Foundation, Australia is fast becoming an “app nation”.


“On average, Australians will have 25 downloaded apps on their smartphones… Our goal with App Aid is to spur mobile innovation,” Farr said in a statement.


“We are excited to create this melting pot which brings together entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, to explore this new technology and its potential.”


The two most innovative apps will be chosen by a judging panel.


The Vodafone Foundation will donate $30,000 to the charity associated with the app prototype that comes first, and $10,000 to the charity associated with the one that comes second.


In addition, Vodafone will offer marketing services to help promote the launch of the app.


Meanwhile, Kraemer will host his second 24-hour hackathon from Saturday, August 11 to Sunday, August 12 in Sydney. The event is powered by Fishburners and Women as Entrepreneurs.


While this event will be slightly largely than the first, with up to 25 spots available, it will focus solely on creating apps that solve female-related problems.


“There are lots of ideas that are female-related but haven’t been done yet. Females know these problems but don’t necessarily know how to build [apps for them],” Kraemer says.


“I want to get these females who have all these ideas together with developers who know how to create them but don’t have the ideas.”


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