When developers, entrepreneurs, and designers meet for the first time and spend 48 hours together at an AngelHack competition, real businesses are born.
AngelHack, an international San Francisco-based events and marketing company, hosts hackathon competitions in more than 35 cities across the world, bringing strangers together to create new ideas. At these bi-yearly hackathons, attendees form teams for a weekend of rapid-prototyping sessions.
“We are constantly pumping out new startups with new ideas,” said CEO and co-founder Sabeen Ali. “And then at the same time, being global, we’re in a lot of cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, where they actually haven’t even seen a hackathon before.”
Ali has a background in mergers and acquisitions at Yahoo! and ran her own events and consulting startup. In September 2011, she and her co-founder hosted their first hackathon. Their events took off from there, and now AngelHack has anywhere from two to 15 per month. AngelHack trains 120 volunteer event ambassadors all over the world that represent the brand and host these events. They also have an office in Singapore, a hub for startups.
Companies sponsor these competitions and choose a theme for teams to work on. Hasbro sponsored an event with a digital/physical play challenge.
The winning team from each city gets the entrepreneur’s version of American Idol’s golden ticket. They enroll in AngelHack’s 12-step mentoring program called HACKcelerator. Then, AngelHack flies the teams to Silicon Valley where they embark on a 10-week adventure. Under the guidance of AngelHack, these teams get a chance to meet investors, incubators, and accelerators. This fulfills Angel Hack’s goal to expand the startup community and help entrepreneurs succeed.
“We’re trying to burst the Silicon Valley bubble as well,” Ali said. “It’s a very closed system and we’re trying to break people in from outside and also expose people that are inside to show them that there’s talent all over the world.”
AngelHack gets a two percent stake in the company for the services they provide. AngelHack also organizes “White Label” events for companies to help with branding, recruiting, and company innovation.
Ali loves working with the developer, entrepreneurial community because she admires their desire to use their skills for social good. A beginner-level coder, Ali enjoys being close to the action and the “forefront of technology. “
In the future Ali wants to teach coders soft skills such as communication, leadership, team-building, and business concepts so they can explain their vision.
“I’ve seen people demo and I’m like, I’m pretty sure they’re a genius,” said Ali, “and I’m pretty sure that was a multi-million dollar idea that I will never, ever understand or they will never be able to articulate.”
AngelHack also promotes their philosophy about the “whole developer,” which emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence and business savvy, rather than just technical skills. At one of their events, they introduced attendees to yoga and mindfulness and received positive feedback.
Ali also wants to expand the hackathons to include 50 cities, showing minorities the benefits of coding, which could help them make a living. (Ali gave Tedx Talk “Technology doesn’t discriminate“)
“Ultimately what I want to do is be able to expose all parts of the word and all minorities to the power of coding and show them how it can be disruptive in it’s own way,” said Ali.
AngelHack’s next event in NY is Feb. 8 – 9. XO Group will host the hackathon, called “Hack Upon a Cause,” challenging developers to create a web or mobile app for four different nonprofits.