Members of the LAUNCH cohort and talented UC Berkeley students came together on the weekend of March 16-17 to participate in the two-day LAUNCHathon hackathon. The event presented an opportunity for students to work in a hackathon setting with real early-stage startups, as well as an opportunity for the teams in the LAUNCH cohort to find local talent and work on the tasks that each company needed to get done.
Applicants described their specific skill sets, whether it be in web development, marketing, mobile development, film, or graphic design, and were matched with the needs of different LAUNCH teams. The newly-formed teams then spent the next 48 hours working on various projects, while also working towards completing their LAUNCH-A-BINGO cards, a card filled with fun tasks ranging from creating a secret handshake to getting a “Sorry, no” email from Elon Musk.
Mehek Mohan, co-founder of Clean Slate Diagnostics, a startup developing at-home STD tests spoke to the value of working with fresh perspectives and the work her team was able to accomplish over the weekend. “It was really nice having that perspective and that new feedback because when we were first explaining the company, there were a lot of things they didn’t understand, or wanted more clarification for. As we fleshed out the content over the two days, there was very clear communication and the final product was something that we wanted to see,” Mohan said.
“We started filing the patent, we completely redesigned the device, and made it a very user-friendly, compact test that you can easily use at home. It was a really great experience to think through that whole process and go through the patent filing and understand what the different components of that was,” Mohan added.
Between earning points from the bingo card, Kahoots done throughout the course of the weekend, and a final voting process at the end of the weekend, teams competed to receive the final prize money for their companies. The winners of LAUNCHathon and their respective prize winnings were BuildBlock (750$), Lifework (500$), and Callisto (250$).
“This is my first time doing a hackathon and I have to say, it was a wonderful experience being in a space that was so dedicated and focused towards a particular outcome… We have really been able to see a lot of ideas through ideation to an actual product,” Mohan said.