There’s nothing quite like the Steel City Codefest. If it were a TV show it would be mashup of 24, the Apprentice, and Shark Tank. It’s stressful, grueling, and takes 2 solid days to recover from.
I love every minute of it.
Steel City Codefest is a Pittsburgh-wide app building event that brings together coders, designers, and innovation enthusiasts to create apps for local government, citizens, and community organizations over a 24-hour period. It’s one of many interesting events that have sprung up in recent years, marrying technology and entrepreneurship, which Pittsburgh is becoming known for.
This year, the Codefest highlighted twelve challenges sourced from nonprofits and government organizations in our region. Several were interesting, but ultimately, my team chose to volunteer our time to the Food Rescue Project, a collaboration between Brazen Kitchen and Freestore. We chose this project for two specific reasons:
Below are some of the talking points that I used for our presentation to the initial round of judges and in the finals. This is the why we needed to help address this problem.
It’s a way to give back to those that always give. Whether you’re someone like me, who has spent their entire career in the realm of the Internet and technology, or someone that just likes to dabble, you have a place here. Codefest provides participants with the unique opportunity to volunteer their time, energy, and knowledge to staple Pittsburgh organizations that truly need it and may not be able to obtain the technology any other way.
So much great work–gratitude to all the teams who worked on @412FoodRescue #SteelCityCodefest big thanks to @MikeCaps @TheForbesFunds & URA
Codefest also provides you with the opportunity to assemble your dream team and see what you’re capable of. For this year’s contest I had just that. Working alongside Chachi, Kyle, Greg, Raleigh, and Tony was exactly like I thought it would be. All of them are talented individuals with strong developer chops and some serious work ethic.
As the only non-developer of the group, I was worried about pulling my weight. Given that we were building a functioning version of the application, I knew that there would be some serious heads-down dev time. However, I focused on what I know: Project Management, User Pathing, and the end-user experience. Each of us found our roles rather quickly and filled them quite well.
Going into the event, we dreamed big, but didn’t even know if some of our desired features were possible, let alone something that we could build in a day. Somehow, through their developer fu and ol’ fashioned fortitude, we got it all working.
When I was able to see the application work from end-to-end I was legitimately impressed – Three devices, side-by-side, assuming the roles of donor, driver, and recipient, interacting with one another, going through the workflow. The workflow was pretty substantial too! It included multi-way-point Google Maps integration, multi-device QR code authentication, and push notifications to clearly communicate between the different users. That was enough to secure us a spot in the finals and accomplish what I had set out to do.
Now the finalists are presenting their apps at the #SteelCityCodefest. Such great work in just a weekend! pic.twitter.com/dMt4tnLUWY
— Rebecca (@RebeccaLYoung) February 22, 2015
Based on the feedback that we received during the competition, my team and I firmly believe that we have a solid approach to taking another step forward in the fight against food waste and hunger. The motto for Codefest this year was “Codefest doesn’t end on Sunday” – We believe that applies to us and plan to pursue funding that will enable us to complete the application.
If you were a Codefest participant or just have a good idea that you think will help to make the world a better place then I urge you to checkout the Forbes Fund, UpPrize, Give Camp and InterSector.
The most important thing that I learned this weekend, beyond Codefest and the Food+Rescue application, is that I now have a team of people that I can count on. A team that has the hustle & grit to build cool… Err… stuff – something that I’ve been seeking for quite a while. The timing is right. The team is right. I intend to do everything possible to keep us together and continue to build things that will make Pittsburgh proud. Stay tuned…
Truely impressed no matter what my firewall may believe. You all inspire!