The scene was Tech Square, a suite of Georgia Tech offices located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. There, at the WWCode Hackathon: Women Take on Tech, over 100 creative minds from across the country came together to develop ideas and innovations which would change the world. It was out of this environment that Cohab was born. This clever application reimagined the way that potential roommates meet and connect, making use of social technologies to transform the process of finding people to live with.
The event began with a Hackathon 101 session that acquainted attendees with the particulars of the process that would unfold throughout the weekend. This was followed by a pitch session in which ideas were presented to the group, allowing people to gravitate towards those that most inspired them. The Cohab team emerged out of this process, consisting of Ashlynne Morgan, Karen Marsh, Mary Harrell, Kourtney Traina, and Jennifer Schiavone, all hackathon first timers.
Kourtney, a Masters of Data Science student at Columbia University, described her time at the event saying,
This was my first hackathon, and the first hackathon for everyone on my team. It served as a really nice introduction to this type of event; the space (ATDC) was awesome, the mentors were a tremendous help, and despite it being a competition, everyone was friendly.
United in purpose, they chose an office and began working on the details of the project, fleshing out the concept and coming up with technical and strategic solutions to help it succeed. The goal was to develop the idea to as close to a ready to launch business as possible before judging took place Sunday night. Throughout the process a team of mentors circulated among the various participating groups, providing technical expertise and advice.
Ashlynne Morgan, an Apprentice Software Developer at Manheim, spoke about her experience at the Hackathon noting, "Despite the typical struggle every team goes through in a Hackathon, I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside so many talented, gritty, and inspiring women.”
At the end of the 3 day, 54 hour process Cohab had a working website to showcase their idea, as well as a business plan for making it a success. They presented this to the judges and the rest of the event participants, going through their thought process and demonstrating how the application would function once it was ready to go live. Then, after a short consultation period, they were awarded second place for their efforts.
Karen Marsh, a returning to work mother and software developer that is completing a 6-month Bridge the Skills Gap program with Career Builder, said
It was the first Hackathon for all 5 members of my team, so we are super proud that we got 2nd place for the website we developed. There wasn’t much sleep for any of us that weekend, but there WAS tons (and tons) of food! One thing that can’t be said is that WWCode doesn’t provide one great meal after another! So… after many delicious meals, many, many candy bars, and some great teamwork, we were able to develop a viable, working website.