Blue Clarity | ExpeditionHacks | ExpeditionHacks Small Business Recovery
As a follow up to its 2020 Impact Challenge business case competition, Ascend Leadership invites technologists near and far (US and International) to hack together a technical solution to revive small businesses and help them recover from economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ExpeditionHacks, developers, entrepreneurs, Business, Small Business, COVID-19
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Ascend Hackathon: Reviving Small Businesses

As a follow up to its 2020 Impact Challenge business case competition, Ascend Leadership invites technologists near and far (US and International) to hack together a technical solution to revive small businesses and help them recover from economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

THE HACKATHON CHALLENGE

Working with a selected small business or NGO partner, participating teams will have ONE WEEK to produce a functioning technical solution for their partner. Team projects should be designed to meet a specific need formulated by the partner small business or NGO and bring immediate and tangible benefit to the partner. A winning project will be one that successfully applies innovation to the partner’s day-to-day business through the utilization of cyber concepts, data science/visualization, AI/machine learning, or other advanced technologies.

 

WHY?

With quarantining and social distancing measures in place for over almost a year now, communities everywhere have seen small businesses shutter their doors for good. Despite temporary financial support from public and private sources, the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many small businesses simply cannot survive without creating new revenue streams. Small businesses that lack technical savvy are particularly disadvantaged. Ascend challenges you to use your tech skills and business savvy to help small businesses survive, recover, and thrive again!

During this event, your team will engage intensively with your selected partner business or NGO. Your partner will present a specific problem or challenge it is currently facing and your team will have one week to create a functioning technology solution to their problem. The goal of this hackathon is for your partner to walk away with an innovative, actionable, potentially scalable technology solution in hand. While the solution may require refinement after the competition, it should be something that is relatively close to implementation.

 

WHEN?

This virtual hackathon will take place on March 13 through 20, 2021.

 

TEAMS

  • Teams can consist of up to five members. Each individual team member must register for the event.
  • All ages are welcome, including students and working professionals . Participants under the age of 18 will be required to complete a permission form.
  • Teams must have at least ONE Ascend member.
  • This competition is open to anyone from any country, however, teams must have at least ONE Ascend member.
  • Each team must work on one solution for a specific partner (see below).
  • Entries submitted by employees of sponsoring companies or organizations will not be judged by a judge from the same company or organization.

 

PARTNERS

  • Must commit to personally engage with the team and to attend the hackathon event.
  • Must be a specific small business entity (any industry) or an NGO that directly supports small businesses such as local Chamber of Commerce, small business association, etc.
  • Large businesses with a group, entity or initiative that directly supports small businesses are also acceptable.
  • Teams can select their own partner from personal networks* OR they will be paired with a partner at event kick off.

*Team selected partners will need to meet with hackathon organizers to ensure that the problem statement presented is an appropriate level of complexity for the competition. 

 

JUDGING CRITERIA

Projects will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Impact: How impactful will this solution be to your partner?
  • Scalability: What is the potential for scalability? How costly would this solution be to bring to scale?
  • Creativity: How original is this solution? Does it set itself apart from other solutions through innovative or non-traditional methods? Does it demonstrate outside-the-box thinking?
  • Design: How well designed is this solution, from a UI/UX (Usability) perspective?
  • Execution: How well designed and executed is the solution from a technical perspective?

PRIZES

Winners of this hackathon will be selected on March 20, 2021 by our judges. Projects will be evaluated based on the criteria outlined above.

 

Grand Prize –

The Grand Prize winner will be selected by the judging panel on March 20 and will win–

– Tickets to Ascend’s National Convention in August 2021 for each team member (valued at $1000 each)

– One selection from prize pool

 

Second Place

The Second Place winner will be selected by the judging panel on March 20 and will win–

– Ascend membership for each team member (valued at $125 each)

– One selection from prize pool

 

Crowdsource Prize 

The Crowdsource Prize winner will be decided by attendee poll on March 20 and will win–

– One selection from prize pool

 

Most Valuable Hacker

The Most Valuable Hacker prize will be decided by the hackathon organizing team on March 20. It will be awarded to a single participant (not team) based on the participant contributions on Slack and/or social media before and during the competition. The MVH will win–

– LinkedIn Learning Subscription (1 year)

 

Prize Pool includes… 

(Prizes subject to change. The Grand Prize, Second Place, and Crowdsource Prize winning teams will select from the prize pool in that order. One selection per team. Once an item is selected, it will be removed from the pool and cannot be selected again.)

– One mentoring session for the team with a venture capitalist

– One technical mentoring session for the team with an Ascend leader from a tech company

– One hour of mentoring with Ascend’s President or an Ascend Board member

– Nintendo Switch console for each team member

– $50 Amazon gift cards for each team member

– Echo dots for each team member

EVENT TIMELINE

This virtual hackathon will take place on March 13 and 20, 2021.

 

Saturday, March 13, 2021 

1-3 pm EST – Virtual Event Kick Off. Link will be provided.
[Teams work on projects with partners independently.]

Saturday March 20, 2021

9 am EST – Code Freeze & Submit Projects
Team Demos & Winners Announced: 1-3 pm EST

REGISTRATION

Tickets to participate in this event are FREE. Registration will close after 15 teams join so register now! Teams must register before March 12, 2021, 11:59 PM EST.