HackathonSG #1

We held our inaugural hackathon.sg meet-up yesterday evening at HackerspaceSG at 7.30pm.  To be honest, the session was only several hours long, and probably qualified as a hacka-sprint instead.  We controlled the attendees and invited folks that we knew, so that we could figure out the format, i.e. hack the hackathon.

Jason tries to get everyone organized.

Jason got the ball rolling by cajoling everyone to pitch their ideas, and soon after, people naturally gravitated towards certain projects.  “Less talk, more code” became the motto for the night, as a total of 21 developers self-organized themselves into 6 teams:

  • Team 1 (5 pax): “Lunch in the City” – Chatroulette meets Hungrygowhere
  • Team 2 (1 pax): “Crunchbase” of Asia
  • Team 3 (3 pax): Implement inertia scrolling a la iPhone, using Javascript and CSS animation
  • Team 4 (2 pax): Hacking around with WebGL
  • Team 5 (2 pax): Implement unit test tagging
  • Team 6 (4 pax): Messing around with iPhone Objective-C
  • Stragglers (4 pax): Technical discussion on implementation, installation of packages, etc


Teams 1 & 3 were still coding when I left at 11:30pm.  The stragglers’ group had gotten larger as people treated themselves to a second round of pizzas while chatting with one another.  I noticed one or two individuals who couldn’t fit in, and made a quiet exit in the last hour that I was there.

Team 1 gets underway with their first sprint for the night.

Team 1 gets underway with their first sprint for the night.

I think we got off to a good start.  Here’s what I learnt from tonight’s session:

  • Better location: HackerspaceSG is almost bursting with 21 pax, and there were not enough tables to go around.  There weren’t enough whiteboards for teams to scribble ideas on and refer back to; people had to resort to scraps of paper.
  • 60 – 90 minute sprints are ideal
  • It is ok to have single-man teams, as long as the organizers make best efforts to find them partners.
  • Teams with strong leaders were able to sustain their coding momentum for longer; conversely, teams which failed to show leadership, distribute tasks effectively and ensure that everyone was able to contribute tend to lose members as the night drags on.
  • Stragglers are acceptable. For those who aren’t as keen to dive deep into a sprint, an alternative activity might be a good idea, i.e. Ruby/Rails tutorials, CSS animation, etc by volunteers within the straggler group
  • Better pizza please! Canadian Pizza sucks…heh.
Teams getting it on with their sprints.

Teams getting it on with their sprints.

We’re likely to hold our hackathon.sg session 2 towards the end-May/early-June, when my friends from Pivotal Labs are in town.  In the meantime, you can find us at the Singapore Ruby Brigade, or at Hackathon.SG (yeah I know, the site needs work).

Special thanks to Anideo, for keeping us supplied with pizzas and drinks, and to Meng Weng, for whipping up some really tasty egg snacks as the teams toiled on.

The beloved Terminal screen in action.

The beloved Terminal screen in action.

Choon Keat gives his team mate his full attention.

Choon Keat gives his team mate his full attention.

The robot says "code!"

The robot says "code!"

Hackathon sign welcoming guests at the door (courtesy of Meng Weng)

Hackathon sign welcoming guests at the door (courtesy of Meng Weng)

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.