Hack The Gap Delivers On Minnesota’s First Female Hackathon

The first ever all-women hackathon in Minnesota was held last weekend at LeadPages NE Minneapolis headquarters where  around 50 coders gathered to Hack the Gap.

Organized by representatives from the Twin Cities chapter of the Geekettes and Gr8Ladies, the event was born out of a desire to “bring exposure to the gender gap in technology, connect them with other like-minded women, and inspire them to lead, innovate, and make,” according to Geekettes ambassador Jenna Pederson.

SSFTParticipants pitched ideas, and formed teams based on their areas of interest. They then had 14 hours to complete a fully functioning demo of their product for the demo pitches and awards ceremony on Sunday.

Judges were Tiamo Wright, Director of Operations at CoCo, Ryan Broshar, VC Matchstick Ventures & Co-Founder Beta.MN, Melissa Kjolsing, Director of Minnesota Cup, and Greg Jensen, VP of Engineering at LeadPages.

At one point on Saturday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges stopped in to hear some demo pitches, and show her support for the event. She later tweeted a photo of her with the group.

Before the prizes were awarded, the judges gave each team some feedback regarding their demo pitches. Some parting advice for all participants from Greg Jensen was, “At every opportunity, give yourself permission to show up.”

Each member of the 1st place team, Neuro Visionaries, received a Smart Home Starter Kit, donated by SmartThings. The prize was especially fitting since the team’s project involved an Arduino board, and a hacked child’s toy. The Brainwave Biofeedback can be used to help students learn mindfulness, by monitoring their brainwaves, and translating that data into an image that they can understand.

When asked what the best part of the weekend was, Emi Lyman from the Neuro Visionaries, didn’t talk about winning. Like many other participants, for her, the event was about the opportunities to create something new and work with her peers.

“I feel like it was such an opportunity to code with so many other really talented women and end up with something I totally didn’t think was possible. But we did it, and we did it together.”


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