Harmonious Hackathons

An idea that the Edgeryders community collaboratively developed during the LOTE3 event. It will be submitted to the Diogo Challenge.

Q3: Please describe your idea (max 200 words)

A harmonious hackathon is a hackathon, minus sleep deprivation, bad food and stinky socks, plus great hosts. So hackers get a great environment with good food, accomodation and community, and can use it to support each others’ projects. Hosts get rewarded by the hackers contributing to their business startup project as well.

This creates synergy out of three issues: (1) Current hackathons are productive as multi-day code sprint events for open source software, but also very exhausting because of unsuitable and neglected living environments for the traveling hackers. (2) Free help from ICT experts is in high demand in the startup world, so that those without an IT pro on the team often find themselves severely limited in what they can do and develop, and hackers often are frustrated by the high number of requests from cash-starved “lean startups” seeking free help. (3) At the same time, these hackers have their own, often unexpressed issues for which they would welcome others’ support: a social working environment to replace isolated coding, a healthy living conditions in spite of working a lot, and non-technical support for their own startups and initiatives, ranging from graphics work to marketing and organizational assistance.

Q5: Please tell us why you believe your idea is innovative in a given context. Alternatively, if your idea is based on something that already exists, explain how your idea differs to this. (max 200 words)

The context is the cash-scarce world of lean startups companies and startup projects in idea stage, esp. those emerging in European countries with high youth unemployment rates. Most startups need support to take off, but the support that friends and family can give without compensation is quite limited. With always scarce money being no option for compensating that support, fee-based business incubators are also no option.

So a non-monetary compensation scheme is needed. Time banking and alternative currencies are an alternative, but come with their own issues: the insular nature of these alternative economy projects together with the international nature of the startup world means that one will hardly find a group of people who are both qualified to help, and agree on the same alternative currency for compensation.

So instead, the innovation is here a clever mode for a compensation with direct bartering. In contrast to a simple economic transaction it does not need formal accounting of efforts, and also caters to social and physical needs of the participants. The temporary, event-like nature of this idea also fits well into how these startups have to organize everything with little resources.

Q6: How will your idea have an impact? (max 200 words)

In effect, harmonious hackathons provide the services of a full-fledged business incubator to all participants (both hosts and hackers): there is “office space”, ready-made infrastructure like Internet access, time-saving and comfort-enhancing services like coffee, meals etc., and of course there are a lot of people with diverse skills who are willing to help out on each others projects in a reciprocal manner.

Just that this business incubator is accessible for everyone who has something to contribute as a host or hacker, and not just to those who can pay the fees (or win the entry) for a commercial business incubator.

So the effect of this new form of social organization (and of promoting and documenting it) is that many more business ideas get a chance to reach the market, and their creators get a chance to create their own jobs this way.

Q7: At what scale will your idea operate initially and how do you think it can be implemented in another region or EU Member State in the future? (max 200 words)

The implementation will start with five to ten prototypical harmonious hackathon events. For these, we already have a selection of both potential hosts and hackers in mind; it is an informal group of creative young people from all over Europe, with about 30% IT experts (they came up with this whole idea and think it is socially and economically viable).

The events will be hosted in different European countries (among which should be Greece, Spain, Italy and / or Portugal because of their high youth unemployment). Exact locations depend on what space hosts have accessible for these events.

Every prototype event will close with a feedback session, which provides input for an even better follow-up event. All prototype events will include extensive publicity work to attract potential hosts and hackers who want to organize their own harmonious hackathons; they can do so right away, in parallel to the prototype events, and are supported with the website providing a calendar and RSVP system. After the last prototype event, experiences will be collected in a manual and published on the website.

Q8: How do you think your idea could be sustained over the next three years? (max 200 words)

A single harmonious hackathon is lean and self-sustaining because it is to support lean startups. So, location and food will be provided by the hackathon hosts, and can be as cheap as sharing a private home and home-cooking good, simple meals.

In social terms, sustainability will be supported through a web platform with information about upcoming hackathons, allowing to register for participation or offering an own hackathon.

No investment is needed for the development of this website: it will be created as an “exercise” during the prototypical hackathons. The effort of keeping this website running is one part-time job, or can be taken over by two volunteers.

However, scaling this up needs more than volunteer effort. Within five years, we hope there will be enough harmonious hackathons to cover the ICT needs of all startup companies enabled by this model (300-400 events per month, based on 5.5 million unemployed youth <25 years in EU27, with 5% latent entrepreneurs, 30 people per hackathon, 2.5 hackathon participations per startup, distributed over 5 years). For this to happen, a major investment into publicity is needed. We currently apply for a total of about 100,000 EUR in grants for this purpose.


Just like my geek/hacker’s retreats :slight_smile:

perfect !

you can count me in !

Great work!

It sounds very catchy and as usual, very clear & compelling writing, big up to everyone working on it :slight_smile:


The Underdog resonates with this proposal. Yet another candidate social innovation to come out of Edgeryders! The Underdog is proud of the community and wishes to salute [Matthias] for his vision and hard work.

Who submits this? Ideally a Scandinavian or German person…


Love the idea of “harmonious hackathons”, very strong Matthias. Make:Shift organised something similar (albeit not as focused on technology) with an approach to provide different types of assets (space / expertise) to participants. Happy to put you in touch with the people behind this.

Let’s re-use the content in a different entry?

Just came across this call and I think we fit nicely, want me to make a submission on our behalf [Matthias]?

Pandering to ultimate hipsterism, but maybe in a good way.

I have heard about a sort of Dev BootCamp that existed in San Francisco during the late 90s that was half-yoga training half Ruby. I think that’s most of the right ideas, but your proposal completes the idea.

It’s a monk like practice where Yogis and health conscious people combine with Mathematicians and Programmers, come together to work in a monk-like way (rising early and focused). There are no top-down teachers, everyone is collectively teaching each other, and the time is evenly split between both Yoga and Logic education.

I would like to implement something like this either by joining any other groups anywhere around the world, or by starting the first one at Sudo Room a hackerspace in Oakland, Califonia.


sounds interesting,

I’m thinking of making something like this in Portugal, in Sintra or another beautiful place.

Programmers and Mathematicians well-being retreats :slight_smile:

but also in some more contunous form, besides the events.