If you need any proof as to why we come to Omaha to hack, this is it: First National Bank’s merry band of trouble makers. Just in case you’re wondering, the guy in the background on the far right shooting Rance in the head or calling him out as The Man is none other than Jim Cole, CIO of a bank. Let that sink in for a moment: CIO….of a BANK. Clearly, these are not your average bankers.
Hackathons were once rare, but are slowing becoming a standard fixture. However, like anything, there’s an art form to putting on a good hackathon. You can’t just throw nerds together in a room and expect them to work all night, particularly when you’re a corporate sponsor. Now, I know what you’re thinking: How in the world can a hackathon put on by a bank in Omaha, beat out hackathons like the one put on by Salesforce in Silicon Valley? The key is the people who run the hackathon and their approach, not the prize money or location. In regards to the former, Code One Omaha has it down pat.
What I love about the event is that it’s a real hackathon. No one shows up with any code. We have no idea what we’re gonna build. Friday night, we get dinner and a packet. The food fills our belly, while the packet fills our mind. The CIO is on hand to kick things off and then we start hacking. The awesome venue (which is in the lobby of their headquarters) is open for the full 48 hours. You don’t have to leave (and many don’t!) There are tons of snacks and drinks to keep you fueled. Pizza even arrives around midnight on opening night.
The way the judging works is in two phases. The hackathon one weekend with a round of judging by the employees who partake in the event. They choose the top 3 (audience chooses the People’s Choice winner) and then those three come back to present to a panel of judges who decide what the final order is. Even the judges were very cool and down to earth people who you know would be great to spend the night chatting about business, life and building great things. We made the cut and came back to win the bronze! The best part of the callback was that it took place on the 40th floor of the FNB tower, the tallest building from Minneapolis to Denver. I love me a view and that one DID NOT disappoint.
The only bad thing about Code One is that it only happens once a year. If you want to try a great hackathon, pay attention to the OmegaOrtega twitter account and listen for when we announce we’re going next year. If you come, you’ll realize why we’re making all this fuss.
In case you’re wondering what we built that won us the bronze, that’ll be coming up in another post. Stay tuned!