#HacktheCrisis was a hackathon initiated by Garage48 in Estonia in March 2019, where teams built solutions for the Covid-19 crisis over a long weekend. The event went global, with hacks held in over 68 countries. In some cases, the hacks were record breaking – in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, the #HacktheCrisis became the biggest hack ever recorded. A record-breaking global #HacktheCrisis, with 53 countries and over 5000 solutions, was held in April.
With only a short timeframe to ideate and build solutions, hackathons are sometimes criticized for not creating solutions with any longevity.
Six months after the wave of #HacktheCrisis events, many projects that formed from the hack are still going strong. Readon to learn about 3 HacktheCrisis companies who are thriving after the event.
Masc-Global pivots from supply chains to PPE
At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Masc-Global CEO Sten Mägus realized that there was a big problem with PPE. Masc-Global is a company that works to gather data on supply chains in order to provide due diligence, but their business model had not previously had a health focus.
“When the crisis hit we started looking for ways to help the government,” says Sten.
“This was a few days before the global hack started, and we learned about the event coming up in a few days and decided to join…. We got a group of friends together from different fields. We just reached out to people in our network that might have an interest in doing something, organized a Zoom all, and discussed what the problem might be.”
They joined the hack with the idea of making a solution for the healthcare system, so the team began by speaking to hospitals, care homes, and government officials. They quickly realized that the government had very limited information in relation to PPE, so health providers had difficulty making procurement decisions.
“We built this system that could track demand and data on PPE in all public institutions in Estonia.
Two or three days after the global hack, we got an appointment with the Ministry of Public Administration, where we introduced our solution, and on 21st of April public sector institutions started using it,” says Sten.
After their hack success, 3 of the team members decided to make a business out of their project, and have been looking for ways to export their system. “There are so many companies in the private sector that require PPE, like manufacturing, cleaning, and elder care,” says Sten.
You can learn more about Masc-Global on their website.
MUVi takes hygiene robots global
MUVi is an Australian based hygiene infection prevention & robotic system, who early in the crisis had begun receiving a large number of orders from Wuhan Hospital in China, which prompted them to rethink their global market reach. When they came across the HacktheCrisis event on social media, they thought it might be a good way to test their idea. Their level internationalization throughout the hack stands out for sheer scale.
“We put together an international team at the start of the event using Devpost and had teammates from Estonia, Pakistan, Nepal, San Francisco, India, and I’m from Australia, so it was a really global team,” explains Director Murray Mcdonald. “We ran around the clock, and twice a day would catch up on Zoom to do a handover. We worked until the very last minute of the hackathon, editing the submission until the very last second. It was nuts.”
MUVI’s solution was a finalist in the hack, and got a lot of attention from potential customers.
The success of the hack prompted the company to change their business plans to focus their expansion into the Nordic market.
In September, the company joined the startup pitch competition at Latitude59, Estonia’s biggest startup event, where they reached the semifinals.
“Through the hack, we got exposed to the Nordic market. We have really matched with the startup culture there, and from customary interviews we’ve done across Europe, we are continuously directed to Nordic countries because of innovation. They are not great big markets, but there are a variety of reasons to go into these countries due to their innovation ecosystems. We also came upon an active startup community that also has a global outlook, “ explains Murray.
MUVi is actively seeking investors and building out sales channels in the Nordics.
Greenbytes develops solution to curb food waste
While Renata Barajas, CEO and founder of GreenBytes, has been working on her idea since October, she completely pivoted her company during the hackathon, which she first learned about on social media. “It was great to have something that felt active and productive at the beginning of the pandemic,” she explained.
GreenBytes makes a solution for restaurants to order food in a way that more accurately predicts demand, reducing food waste.
“The hackathon was great to reach potential new markets and meet talent from other places.”
After joining #HacktheCrisis in Denmark, GreenBytes began speaking with restaurant owners in the country, many of whom agreed to commit to using the product once it was ready.
GreenBytes ended up being a finalist in the hackathon, and won a place in the Startup Wise Guys accelerator, which took place remotely over 6 weeks.
“In the program, we worked on market entry and developing and creating a sales funnel. This was great because both my cofounder and I are tech people, so it was huge for us to learn how to approach people and set up an automated system that we can scale,” says Renata.
GreenBytes is currently testing their platform in Iceland, where they have already reduced 800 kilos of food waste in one month. They have also joined the (Green Tech Alliance) to connect with other industry actors working towards sustainability goals.
“I like the format of hackathons because the deadlines are really motivating. It’s great to take a weekend to get creative and stretch your mind. The whole atmosphere was really conducive to bringing out new ideas,” says Renata.
What’s next for #HacktheCrisis
Garage48, the originators of the #HacktheCrisis movement, have their guidelines for hosting your own hack available publicly at their website.
For the many projects that tackled the crisis from the perspective of better healthcare solutions, the Nordic Health Hackathon is running online from October 27-30th with the aim of getting patient-facing digital solutions into the Nordic market, with a €10000 grand prize for winners.
Learn more and sign up here.
Photo: Hackers interact over Zoom at #HacktheCrisis Denmark