The Future Founders Hackathon offered students and graduates a chance to gain practical experience to turn a business idea or social enterprise into a workable model, ready to pitch based on the theme ‘Hack for Happiness‘.
The ToGather team of five took out 1st prize over the weekend hackathon. Their solution focuses on reuniting communities through a web-based platform that allows people to share and explore new hobbies and passions online.
With a large number of people suffering ongoing psychological distress, the impact to arts and culture sector and the loss of thousands of jobs as a result of the ongoing pandemic, the ToGather team wanted to shape their solution around giving people purpose, which leads to happiness.
Their own research confirmed that over 85% of respondents agreed that connecting with others online and sharing something they are passionate about will make them feel happier and more social.
Members of the winning ToGather team include Chief Executive Officer Camila Silva, Chief Operating Officer Kim Syling, Chief Finance Officer Lina Suarez, Director of Technology Witna Wihanny and Director of Business Development Harsh Nath.
The solution from the ToGather team was one of more than 20, with over 100 students taking part in the hackathon.
Through the theme of Hack for Happiness, the teams were tasked to come up with solutions that would bring more joy into the world. Other ideas that emerged from the weekend include ‘Common Hood’ focusing on providing a platform for the safest place to be yourself for the LGBTQI+ community, ‘Happy Earth’ promoting happiness through a platform informing users of positive climate action and opportunities to get involved and ‘Interlinked’, a platform for mentoring and social connection, matching former international students and graduates with current students to share knowledge, skills and expand networks.
2nd prize for the Hack for Happiness challenge went to team Growth Lab, who created an app, the 5 minute experiment, to help people experiencing poor mental health by encouraging them to take action and try short 5-minute tasks to experiment with what improves their mental wellbeing.
3rd prize was awarded to Vroom, who are looking to address the decrease in wellbeing of students, teachers and parents caused by the challenges of remote learning. The team propose new video conferencing software that better emulates the classroom environment and improves engagement in a way that current video software doesn’t provide.
The hackathon is part of a year-long Future Founders Program, helping international students and budding entrepreneurs take a business idea and get it off the ground, no matter what stage they are at. This program would not be possible without the support and sponsorship from Study Melbourne. A big thank you and congratulations also to the team at Hacker Exchange (HEX), for running the extremely successful hackathon, and to Practera for sponsoring the prizes for the hackathon challenge.
Following on, students who are committed to working on their idea can take advantage of the many incubator and accelerator programs out there to support, including Startmate, Startup Vic and Launch Vic to name a few.
International students working on their new business venture can apply to the Future Founders Bootcamps, to gain 2 weeks of focused learning and mentoring to pressure test their idea.