Never having been to a "Hackathon", I didn't know what to expect. Now I can see why some of the people I met this weekend at the Yale event are self-described "Hackathon Junkies". It was an energizing, fun weekend with an exciting group of young people, each passionate about making some aspect of healthcare better. More than 50 "Pain Pitches" evolved into 35, 3-minute judged pitches for topics ranging from relieving a child's stress while waiting for treatment, to better ways of training radiologists to interpret images. First, I joined a group trying to come up with a way to make personal medical information more readily available to first-responders and to streamline intake at medical facilities. After finding that our ideas were readily available, we "pivoted" to address the reasons for poor adoption of such methods. 15 minutes with a clinical mentor convinced us that the solution was to overhaul the whole US medical system (not a bad idea), or move to Finland, so we "pivoted" again. Another mentor had discovered a sole individual beavering away at a prototype who clearly needed a team.
At 4pm on Saturday I joined Sathya, a 3rd year engineering student from India who had flown in specifically for the event with a passion to develop a device to enable his friend with ALS to regain some ability to communicate using only his breath in puffs. An hour later, we were joined by Yusuf, a freshman from MIT who dove in to develop the text-to speech portion of the code. By 10am Sunday, the device spoke its first words, at 10:20 we pitched to a "Genius Bar" of judges and mentors who provided feedback. At noon, we submitted our PowerPoint deck and at 2pm we were on the stage in front of judges and an audience of over 200 describing the device. Insane energy, controlled chaos, satisfying outcomes.
Kudos to Yale CBIT http://cbit.yale.edu/ and the organizing staff for managing a superb event.
Scott C. Lewis has 3 successful startups, 2 turnarounds and dozens of coaching and business development projects under his belt. In 30 years of tech entrepreneurship, he has developed product, sold, managed the sales process, developed and managed advanced manufacturing, support and distribution... all through effective teams.