Swedish Startup Space

Recap From Gothenburg Startup Hack 2014

Written by and on May 9

What started out as a smaller hackathon to bring together likeminded people in and around the startup scene in Gothenburg – ended up being something a lot grander.

Photo Credits: Dino Soldin

Early on Saturday morning people were slowly dropping in through the doors to get their nametags and find the closest cup of coffee. Everyone slowly waking up meanwhile keeping an eye out for their team members to show up. As the halls, coffee tables and stairs started to get crowded – you could feel a growing anticipation in the air. Everywhere you turned teams were discussing ideas, strategies for the day and saying hello to friends, old and new.

So many teams signed up and tried to get a spot in at the Gothenburg Startup Hack, these were the 27 teams that in the end were chosen. Since the competition for the spots had become so much harder in light of the popularity the hack had attained, the teams now meant business.

So many teams signed up and tried to get a spot at the Gothenburg Startup Hack, these were the 27 teams that in the end were chosen

Best decision – signing up.

For me it all really started with Per Bergström contacting me about sponsoring a hackathon aimed at the startup scene in Gothenburg, this of course sounded interesting but the timing wasn’t right for my company. Per and I have many times discussed the need to bring the startup community in Gothenburg to light.

The Gothenburg section of Swedish Startup Space is one part that is working towards that goal, and has so far been a great at giving people some insight into the Gothenburg startup life. So the Startup Hack Per now told me about felt extremely right – I wanted to help and be a part of this. As it happened the place I work at, Monocl, was interested in sponsoring. So far so good, but to get more involved, my colleague and I decided we should also apply with a team of our own.

Said and done, we started gathering up a team – Team Temporal Shift – as we called ourselves in lack of a better name at the time. Since we joined in without a clear idea to start with we did some brainstorming and came up with “HeyPlace” a sort of photo app focused on connecting photographs to geographical locations rater than the people them selves. A sort of digital time capsule. And to our joy, among the 74 teams that applied, we were selected to participate.

The Hack

So now we were sitting there, in a hallway, discussing how on earth we would pull this off in the 10 hours we know we had available during the Saturday. The call for everyone to gather for the information meeting went out. The Hack was about to start.

Andrzej Brud @AndrzejB52 - May 3
Some serious hacking going on in the old bankvault at Chalmersska huset. #gbgstartuphack #gbgtech pic.twitter.com/A00e86NLtU

When we got out from the information meeting, it was time to enter the vault! Yes, that is right. The Gothenburg Startup Hack was staged at Chalmerska Huset, an old building in Gothenburg, which has an old bank vault. Among chandeliers, marble floors and gilded railings the tables for the hack were set up. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement. An open space with two floors filled with people ready to realize their ideas during 10 intensive hours of coding.

The variation of projects was invigorating, one team was doing some low level hardware integration and building; another doing an interactive presentation application; a third doing real time analytics of the twitter stream. The amount of innovation in a single two story bank vault was astounding.

  • Vault, bottom floor.
  • Vault, view from top floor.

In just a few minutes you started to see that people realized the tight time frame, the chatter died of and everyone got into “the zone”. Like 27 well oiled machines everyone was focused and all you could hear was the calm voices of people discussing, only broken from time to time by some cheering as someone’s build produced what was expected. Or the more frustrated raised voice when it didn’t. All in all a fantastic atmosphere.

The 27 (Twenty-seven!!) teams demonstrated impressive prototypes. That says a lot about what Gothenburg has to offer.

The Pitch

There were of course some breaks for lunch and refreshments, getting us out of the vault for a moment to the magnificent state apartments two floors above, but discussions followed the teams around – no time to loose. In what felt like an instant, time was just minutes away from The Pitch. The part where all the teams get 90 seconds to showcase their prototype and pitch their idea to the audience. I can only say that I am amazed of how many great ideas that had come to life during the day. The overall quality of the presentations was really good as well. And the 27 (Twenty-seven!!) teams demonstrated impressive prototypes. That says a lot about what Gothenburg has to offer.

  • Buzzing crowd eager to pitch their ideas
  • The jury. From right: Peter Wendel, Debbie Lygonis, Sven-Olof Bodenfors, Carl Nelvig

Join the band! ‏@Spotifyjobs May 3
Demo time! #gbgstartuphack pic.twitter.com/Rs8vt7R4TR

During the day a jury consisting of Peter Wendel (Entreprenörskapital), Debbie Lygonis (Constant Innovation), Sven-Olof Bodenfors (Forsman Bodenfors) and Carl Nelvig (Burt) had been going around interviewing all the teams. The intention was to give the teams a feeling for how investors would see the different products. After all the pitches we cast our votes on what team we thought should be crowned the winner of this hack. The jury then entered the stage and announced what ideas they thought showed most potential. Among these was Team Dream On with their interactive presentation platform “Überhead” and my own Team Temporal Shift, great fun I must say. It was really great to get this sort of feedback and some kind of “stamp of approval” on that it was not only us who thought the idea was great.

To have a jury of respectable people giving their feedback and view on the ideas was an element that gave the hack a whole new dimension, and sort of defined why it was indeed a Startup Hack.

We all applauded ourselves before heading out to dinner.

The Party

After the dinner it was time for some relaxing after a stressful, fun, but long day. The organizers had gotten a live band, Dunderpatrullen, and spirits were high. The winners of the hack would be announced later, which gave a good time to reflect over the day; meet new people; and network a bit.

At 22.45 (or some minutes later – just to get people biting their fingernails) the music stopped, it was time to announce the winners! My team and I were pretty sure we weren’t in any prize position, after all our app was still very prototypeish, but still the suspense was there. As a lot of people had guessed this years Gothenburg Startup Hack victory was taken home by Team Dream On and their Überhead presentation tool. The runner up was an app called “Soprum” which was aimed to giving away furniture and stuff you no longer need to someone who does, the twist was that you could easily vet the receiver so that you in an flawless way could feel good about giving away your unwanted things.

All in all

The Gothenburg Startup Hack I must say was an incredible success, I for one had an extremely fun time that resulted in an app now in full development, new contacts and friends.

As more and more people get involved we hope that Gothenburg will get a new attitude of innovation and be an attractive place to locate your business

The hack was not the only activity this day however, Per had taken the rains at the pre-launch of Startup Grind Gothenburg with a fire side sit-down with Forsman & Bodenfors founder Sven-Olof Bodenfors. This was followed by the The Open Track that ran in parallel with the hack during the day. Here people could come listen and partake in workshops held by startups from the area. All this while the hack was taking place downstairs. The house was a very vibrant place with partners and sponsors mingling around with each other and the participants. The atmosphere was friendly and cheerful, and everyone loved it.

Also to see this much potential in our city of Gothenburg just makes me certain that we are on the right track with getting the startup scene noticed and up in the spotlight. Gothenburg has so much to offer in this area and this event, Swedish Startup Space and the start of Startup Grind Gothenburg are all important initiatives to create new meeting places and bring together people across professions and interest. We have a long way to go in creating a city that is nourishing to the startup community, but it really feels like we are on the right track.

As more and more people get involved we hope that Gothenburg will get a new attitude of innovation and be an attractive place to locate your business. I just hope we make it so I can be around to see it. We would also like to congratulate the winners of the Gothenburg Startup Hack: Niklas Andersson, Filip Askviken, Edvin Brobeck, Robert Gullander and Nils-­Erik Jansson.

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