Startup Veteran’s Weekend/Hackathon Winners

By Todd Allen

Yesterday at Adobe headquarters, the Startup Veteran’s Weekend/Hackathon wrapped up and judged its winner.  A unique hackathon co-hosted by TechCentralSF and Craig Newmark (Craig sits on the Board of Directors for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) paired up veterans with the usual assortment of engineers, designers and marketers you find at such events with the usual purpose of coming up with a new product/company over the weekend.

[caption id="attachment_1937" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="Knudstrup and Chor with their 1st place certificate"]Veteran's Hackathon[/caption]

Judging the event were Daniel Brusilovsky (Teens in Tech Labs), Dan Rosen (Highland Capital Partners), Chuck Wallace (co-founder of Esurance and Air Force veteran) and Scott Rutherford (co-founder of User Voice).  Judging criteria were:

  • Market size (in terms of dollars) for the product

  • Ease of market penetration

  • Progress towards developing the product

  • Cost to launch

  • Team (weighed less heavily, given the nature of the event)

  • How much of the project came together over the weekend, as opposed to pre-existing work being done on it (this was weighed more heavily).

In a field with a wide variety of entrants including apps for assisting rehab and helping veterans transition to civilian life, the winner was Collectio.

Collectio, Latin for "collection" is the brainchild of former Army Specialist Jim Knudstrup, former Army Specialist Julie Mendez and Lasse Chor from Denmark.  Inspired by Chor's collections of coins and vinyl dolls of the Android OS mascot, Collectio seeks to aggregate collectors of different products onto the same site and leverage the communities surrounding the collectibles.

"There are no central aggregators for collectibles," explained Chor, who saw the need for collectors to stop seeking out sites for their individual hobbies and start putting all their collections under the same digital roof.

Collectio was not only wholly created at the Hackathon, their plan was put together in less than 24 hours.  The teams original idea turned out to have already done and they pivoted to the collection space at 3pm the day before.

"This is a tremendous experience for people of all sorts of different backgrounds," said Chor, who found the veterans had a completely different perspective than he normally found at hackathons and enjoyed the variety of input.

Also of interest, while not winning first place is "ARG Zombies."  Conceived by Army veteran Owen Morris while stationed in Afghanistan and bored to tears with the games he'd loaded onto to his iPod before deploying, this mobile game is actually in the final days of a Kickstarter campaign and has drawn backing from notable video game personalities like Jane McGonigal and Jesse Schell.  Morris won a special prize of entry into the YetiZen (game) Accelerator.