Downer EDI and Startupboot camp teamed up to run the 2018 Hack the City hackathon

Students, developers, business people, staff, and creatives descended on York Butter Factory for two days of hacking. The main challenges were centred around Smart Cities – how do we build and utilise infrastructure to help with sustainability, efficiency, and reducing our impact on the environment.

Over the course of the two days, teams were given plenty of help, mentoring, workshops, and heaps of food to keep them fuelled. Around 20 teams worked on their ideas and pitched them to a panel of judges, including people from Downer. The Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, was in attendance for the final presentations.

I came down to the hackathon on the Friday morning to give teams a workshop on how to pitch their ideas. One big question I always get asked is, how do I sell something compelling when everyone else has good ideas too?

What a great question. And I didn’t just get this from the participants. Some of the mentors and staff came and asked too. So I thought I’d answer it here. Ideas, whether they are developed for a hackathon, or they are your full time job, are simply just that – ideas. You need to show how your ideas make a difference. You need to show how they will help. Many people talk far too much about how badly they want to help, or how much they need the money. Everyone knows you want to help, everyone knows you want money. Instead, tell people how you CAN help them.

Put aside what you want for a minute. Think not about yourselves, your idea, or your company. Think about how that idea can help the person or company you are pitching to. At the end of the day, everyone has an agenda to fulfil. If you can show someone how you can help them, you’re more likely to be chosen above everyone else.

The teams at Hack the City took this on board. Ideas developed were centred around helping Melbourne as a whole. They were about how companies can utilise resources to make our city better for everyone. A holistic approach was taken. This is what makes a successful hackathon – teams working together from many different backgrounds, taking into account many experiences, and collating them to produce something that truly helps everyone.

Congratulations to all the teams at Hack the City. You all did a fantastic job in a mere two days. Kudos to all the staff involved in the hackathon. The effort put in behind the scenes ensured all participants had access to resources, mentors, and workshops to help their ideas grow and flourish. I’m excited to see some of these ideas taken forward.

I’ll see you all at the next hackathon. There’s some hackathons on the radar and plenty still to come before the end of the year. Make sure you follow me on Twitter for all the updates!

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