Entrepreneurs Gain Visibility at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon

The anticipation is electric for the anxious entrepreneurs wondering around the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco where one of the most anticipated Hackathon events of the year is being hosted by TechCrunch at Disrupt SF 2013. The powerpoint decks are smokin, the live demos work (mostly) and the shaky accents come from all over the world to earn our interest in 60 seconds or less.


The event started on Saturday morning with several hundred participants made up of entrepreneurs, professionals, hackers. Corporate sponsors like Evernote, Samsung, Chevrolet, Amazon, and others participate with hopes to increase adoption of their APIs and have the next killer app, integration or innovation leverage their technologies. Everyone is here looking for talent or showcasing their own. It’s no surprise to bump into former colleagues from around the valley, or people you follow on twitter at an event like this. There is even a contingent of hackathon frequenters who use these events as opportunities to find seed capital and connections leading to capital for their endeavors.


Hackathons aren’t for the faint of heart, and they aren’t for kiddies either… On second thought, let me take that part about kids back… Black Girls CODE brought a few girls to hack alongside developers from ThoughtWorks. I was so inspired by them I joined in to include some Salesforce hacks to allow them to store chapter, class schedules, students and volunteers inside Salesforce while ThoughtWorks participants hacked up some ruby code to display a public facing app with the mashup. They weren’t the only kids to steal the show, another young girl (couldn’t be more than 7) was found hacking alongside her dad. Spoilers: She stole the show on Sunday when she presented her final product superfunkidtime.com, an app to find playdates with other kids. Hackathons are for everyone!




Some hackers have built their products entirely from scratch over the last 24 hours while others have extended upon already existing technologies that they work on already. My personal favorites were a live tweet news app that finds news based on tweets, annotation app for books targeted at university students, Protect Me app which routes your directions to avoid recent crime scenes and another app that allows you to turn your bookshelf into a library enabling people to bookshare. Glasion was the most flashy and lets you use google glass to find and buy stuff you see people wearing on the street online. Some pitches were not very original, two groups presented a service to allow you to share you travel itineraries… Hello, Tripit.com? Some were not so serious, one guy even built a chat room. A chat room…? Some were just blatant self promotion, one guy obviously wanted to highlight his github account and coding skills to boost his consulting.  A few exceptions appeared to have only presented for laughs, I’ll spare you the misogynist details but they ended up trending on twitter. I give a shot out to TechCrunch staff for calling out the bs by telling people to treat the event with respect by not presenting stuff that would be blatantly offensive or inappropriate for an audience that could contain ambitious 15 year olds (actually there were people there younger than than, remember superfunkidtime?) and anyone who might be streaming it live from all over the world.


From the BIT community Adria Richards (some of you might remember her name) took to the stage to pitch an app to find places you should consider moving to based on the demographic makeup of the region. A young man presented Postcards for Change (if anyone knows his name please post it in a comment) as a way to spread awareness about causes you care about through a postcard.
Black Girls Code as I mentioned before represented very well while Justin Dawkins and Kwame Ampem who some may remember from NewMe Accelerator pitched a Fashion app to find clothes based on color swatches.




Aside from the pitches the hackathon was a great way to meet other people. I also bumped into some talented people I’d like to highlight although unfortunately I missed their pitches! Did anyone catch them? (Please comment)


I always get inspired when I go to events like these. It’s very important for members of the BIT, women and tech community in general to find more opportunities to participate in events like these because they keep you on top of your game and engaged in this fast moving competitive field. The sooner you get into it the sooner you find friends that will help keep you in, engaged, and up to date. Inclusion starts with engagement. And speaking of engagement, if you can’t be there in person watch the live screen here and join in on the discussions with us on twitter @blkintechnology or follow me directly @iayori.


Hope to provide a few more updates on Disrupt SF before the conference ends and if you would like to guest blog on this topic and others, hit us up! We want to hear from you!

TechWomen End Jordan Delegation with Faith & Technology

Let me be sure to tell you that I am writing this blog from the paradisiacal setting of The Dead Sea in Jordan. It feels like a reward on top of the reward I feel in my heart due to the volunteer work I’ve been graced to share with the rest of the TechWomen and Jordanian community since Monday.

Students from Jubilee School settle in at Princess Sumaya University for Technology before the start of the TechWomen Networking Conference

Today was especially delightful as the full day was set aside for the TechWomen Networking Conference presented at Princess Sumaya University for Technology. Her Royal Highness was in attendance of the conference which showed her great support for young women to pursue STEM & ICT. I’m sure the young girls attending were delighted to be there and know how much their Princess supports their efforts to study hard and become innovators.

The conference featured sessions facilitated by TechWomen Mentors and Emerging Leaders from the 2011 and 2012 season. Session topics ranged from Entrepreneurship, to How to Land a Software Engineer Job, to Faith and Technology and featured speeches delivered by Deputy Secretary of State Lee Satterfield, of US Department of State and Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya herself.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya poses for photos with TechWomen Mentors from the United States and Emerging Leaders from MENA regions

Satterfield’s address highlighted TechWomen as a critical program because people to people relationships form the foundation for more productive global relationships. Princess Sumaya remarked that TechWomen represent smart power and took pause to recognize the young students in the room. I imaged what it must feel like to be one of these young girls and have your nation’s Princess show pride in you. I look at the young girls attending the conference as the future leaders of a more brave and better world. Their experience is vastly different from my experience growing up as a young woman in tech precisely due to the efforts of advocates and sponsors like Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

TechWomen connect with Networking Conference attendees on the topic of Faith and Technology

I heard positive things from the girls about all the sessions. I was honored to facilitate one of the final breakout sessions on the topic of Faith and Technology along with Akiko K. Takashima, Amy Miller, Maryann Hrichak, Ramziyeh Jaayssa, and Neeti Gowda. The session had the best attendance of all breakout sessions and the participation from the girls showed this was a topic that was important to them and they were fully engaged. This session was very personal and interactive with discussion ranging from faith to family, technology, innovation, and the pros and cons of technology. The closing remarks of the session tied faith to ones own destiny in life and technology as a part of delivering that destiny. Martin Luther King Jr. said “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”, tying the very act of innovation to faith. One of the young girls bravely stood before everyone in the auditorium as the final speaker to deliver personal testimony that the conference and discussions on Faith and Technology was “just what I needed” with a great beaming smile. I felt the same way.

Before I return to enjoying the amazing attraction of the Dead Sea I want to give a shot out to Heather Ramsey, Arezoo Miot and Lexi Curtice for arranging all these incredible visits. Kudos to Sheila Casey and Lee Satterfield for supporting cultural exchanges that change lives. This was an experience of a lifetime!


Blogging for Grace Hopper


I’m excited to be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Technology in October, even more excited to be blogging about the experience.

Come look for me at the Black Women in Computing sessions and and information table. This year is very special as

I’ll be bringing my daughter to the conference, it’ll serve as her introduction into this amazing community of technical women! Not only that, she’ll be able to witness the impact of being an ambassador of innovation by seeing the work that I’ve done in partnership with TechWomen, salesforce.com and the US Department of State.