Rich Wilson and Mario Morello, final year PR students, received awards at Hack the Hackathon, an event organised at the Google Campus, East London in October. The awards were given for their collaborative efforts with a partner in the US at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); for their innovative use of social, mobile and cloud technologies; and for their open and friendly approach, winning the ‘Share’ award – given to the group which worked most effectively as a team.
Their work came on the heels of their placements where they spent at least a year in industry. Rich spent six months working in the corporate comms team at Hermes Fund Managers and a further year working as the EU PR Assistant at McLaren Automotive. Mario was Digital Strategist at Lineupmedia, Assistant Account Executive at Shine Communications, International Client Executive at Grayling and Senior Account Executive at Hill & Knowlton Strategies.
The account below outlines their experience at Hack the Hackathon from the harrowing trip to the event through to the awards ceremony:
On a rainy Friday evening in October 2012, Mario and I travelled down to the Google Campus in East London’s Tech City to take part in ‘Hack the Hackathon’, an event which brings together software coders, developers, programmers and business people.
The idea was that participants (complete strangers) form teams and work together over two days to devise and create a piece of software – an app, a website, a programme – and present their prototype to a packed audience and a team of judges, with awards and cash prizes up for grabs.
Due to the delights of the M3 on a Friday evening, we arrived down from Bournemouth a little late only to find most teams were already formed. We had loads of ideas but no real experience of coding or developing and needed to find someone with technical expertise who wasn’t already part of a team.
With this in mind, the organisers put us in touch with a student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and we soon formed a UK/US team: me, Mario and a guy called Jacob Cole from MIT.
Over hours of Skype and Google Hangout sessions and litres of coffee and Red Bull, the three of us worked together to create a web platform called Idea Overflow. In a nutshell, Idea Overflow is a web-based, crowd-sourcing platform which encourages developers and coders from around the world to sign up and create a profile – detailing their skills, interests and experience. Once registered, each member can propose a new project and scout for talent to assist them with it or alternatively, view existing projects and signal their interest in contributing to a particular project which appeals to them.
The beauty of the platform is that you could have five developers in five different countries all working on five different parts of the same project, simultaneously (through Jacob’s wizardry with shared files and documents).
So Mario and I worked on the user experience and, putting our PR skills to practice, devised the most compelling way to present Idea Overflow to the audience and the panel of judges, while Jacob worked on the nuts and bolts of coding and programming the prototype.
By 4pm on Sunday, we were ready to present. Mario and I took to the stage in London and Jacob dialed in from the US on Skype:
After the presentation and some questions from the audience and the judges, we waited for the winners to be announced…
BOOM! We had won three awards:
The first award was given by one of the key sponsors, UK Trade and Investment, and awarded to us for our collaboration ‘Across the Pond’ with MIT and for creating a platform to encourage further cross-border collaboration.
The second award was given by another sponsor, Aberdeen Group, for creating a platform that utilised social, mobile and cloud technologies.
The third award was given by the organisers of ‘Hack the Hackathon’ themselves in the category of ‘Share’, one of their key founding principles.
So after two long days, we walked away with three awards, a couple of hundred pounds each and some cool contacts in the tech industry and at MIT. Not bad for a weekend in the East End!
If you wish to get in contact with Mario and Rich, feel free to connect with them on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/mariomorello & http://uk.linkedin.com/in/richywilson or send Mario a tweet to @morellopr
– Rich Wilson