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The Hackathon Marathons

A series of events is taking over how startups are conceived, formed and funded. Social meetups are converting ideas into money making companies with votes. Hackathons as they are known, are productive and collaborative events that are becoming the source for many cool innovations we’re currently seeing. Essentially these events are intense meetups that are anywhere between 1-4 days long and become a medium for exchanging knowledge. They create opportunities for some to learn about what’s hot in the tech space, while at the same time allow developers to perform under extreme pressures.

The events are sponsored by media firms, well known universities, creative agencies and funded by investment firms. The ideas are pitched to a group whereby people vote on the best ones, form a team and quickly make a prototype. It’s intense, it’s fun, and it works!!

Recently Columbia University hosted a week-long event called DevFest 2011, in which students, the school and venture firms collaborated to build ideas into web-based products. The events included workshops from local start-ups such as Aviary, Foursquare and Bit.ly. The hacks created ranged from Facebook-generated birthday cards to time-sensitive, class-based messaging systems. Students demoed to an audience that consisted of top names in New York startup including Thatcher Bell, Fred Wilson, Justin Singer, Chris Wiggins, Dave Jagoda and Steve Jacobs.

Several successful startup have launched after intense hours of brainstorming and hacking at these events. GroupMe, which makes group text messaging with friends, recently closed its second round of financing at $10.6 million, won last year TechCrunch Disrupt New York Hackathon. Qwiki, an interactive wiki of sorts with video, raised $8 million in funding and was the winner of TC Disrupt competition last September in San Francisco. These are just two of many successful startups participating such events.

These Hackathons are based on challenge and are competitive in nature, but there is also several components that make them successful – energy drinks, pizza and super fast connectivity to the web. Even companies like Facebook and Yahoo run their own internal hackathons aiming to encourage fresh ideas and innovation. But there is actually a network out there to help foster and promote these Hackathon’s Marathons. Check out the TechStars Network.

BeMyApp WeekEnd, is one of these Hackathon Marathon events that is coming up. At this event, people meet and pitch mobile app ideas in front of a group of developers, designers and folks interested in mobile development. They then vote on the ideas and partner up to create actual iPhone apps during the evening hours of Friday and all day Saturday. The presentation and results are done on Sunday before a panel who decides the winner. Two winning teams walk away with $5,000. The event will take place in San Francisco, at the pariSoma innovation loft – 169 11th Street, San Francisco – March 4th-6th, 2011.

Alcatel-Lucent Hackathon, is another one and this one takes place at Tech Wildcatters, 2700 Fairmount, Dallas, TX 75204 Saturday, March 26, 2010 from 9 AM to 6 P.M. The top five applications will win Apple iPads at the conclusion of the contest. This contest is organized by Alcatel-Lucent USA and the goal is to mash up Open API Service with any other APIs. The competition is only open to the first 50 entrants.

We encourage you to check out some of these events and let us know about others out there.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Johnstone
Photo courtesy of Jose Goulao
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Johnstone