The biggest problem the organizers had planning Hack the North 2015 was narrowing down who, of the 4,600 applicants, would be invited to come.

After a tremendous success last year (on their first try), the team behind Hack the North had a big act to follow.

They were flooded with requests from over 50 countries to join round two, and it’s no surprise. More than 65 sponsors from practically every major tech company in Silicon Valley, including Microsoft, IBM, Google, Bloomberg, Shopify, Uber and Dropbox, joined heavy-hitters from Waterloo Region tech to give the 1,000 chosen hackers access to every tech toy imaginable, and a spotlight for their talent.

“After last year, the application process this year was insane,” Hack the North Marketing Lead Sean Young said. “We had to write some custom software just to manage and rank the applications; it was a very ‘hacker’ solution, but we had really specific needs. We didn’t want this to become an elitist hackathon. We wanted a mix of experienced hackers and people still learning how it works. So, we looked at resumes, previous hacks and successes, written responses, everything. We’re incredibly proud of the group of hackers we’ve brought together this year and we’re excited to see what they can do.”

Just 12 hours into the 36-hour event, the careful selection process is already bearing fruit.

“It’s too early to say whose hacks are coming together best, but I’ve seen some really interesting stuff happening around the building with virtual reality,” said Young. “Twelve hours is nothing in a hackathon. Lots of these teams will still pivot and find whole new uses for what they’re working on now.”

While building and manipulating technology is the focus of the event, Young and the Hack the North team have put deliberate effort into events peppered throughout the weekend.

“Well, I’m just headed right now to meet with Alexis Ohanian (Reddit co-founder), who’s speaking with a panel of startup experts from Y Combinator,” said Young. “We’ve tried to plan events that are fun, but will also be useful to these young hackers just launching their careers. Well, except the therapy puppies. The puppies are just for fun.”

Hacker events continue all weekend, with the final pitches and showcase Sunday afternoon. Stay tuned for more Hack the North coverage from Communitech News.

About The Author

Phil Froklage
Digital Journalist/Multimedia Producer

Phil Froklage is a writer, filmmaker and journalist in Waterloo Region obsessed with the future. Passionate about science and technology — and how it shapes our world — Phil likes nothing more than being surprised by the amazing things human beings can do.