Hackathon Draws Developers to Build with Uber


Uber, the disruptive startup turned global tech firm, built its massive success by hacking the transportation ecosystems of cities around the world. Now developers in Honolulu and elsewhere are being invited to hack Uber. Sort of.

Uber has partnered with Honolulu-based coding bootcamp DevLeague to host a hackathon later this month. Developers of all skill levels from across the state are invited to show off their creativity and coding chops in a 36-hour challenge to build interesting and innovative tools based on Uber’s API.

“This is commemorating a partnership we did with them to use some of their technology in our curriculum and pair up mentors within their company with students of ours,” explained DevLeague co-founder Jason Sewell on tonight’s Bytemarks Cafe. “They do their own hackathons, which are a standard way to promote an API and get traction around it, and they’ve reached out to bootcamps because they’re always looking for developer talent.”

But at DevLeague’s urging, the Hawaii hackathon is being opened up to the wider community rather than kept within their program. And unlike any local hackathon in recent memory, the Uber DevLeague Hackathon will be held simultaneously at sites on four islands.

“This is by and large a community event, and that’s why we decided to do it not only in Honolulu in one physical location but also distributed across the islands, so that every island could have a location for developers to come together, and still be connected across the state as a whole,” Sewell said. “We’re partering with a company called LiveCoding.TV that’s going to be streaming the event so that everybody will be able to interact with each other and see each other during the course of the event.”

The inclusion of sites on Kauai and Hawaii Island is especially notable because Uber service has not yet launched on those islands. And because Uber isn’t yet on those islands, organizers are thinking creatively about prizes. Awards of Uber credit aren’t of much use if there are no Uber cars where you live.

“We really want to have prizes that make it worth coming out, have a chance for people to win some cool stuff that they like, but not make it about cash, and not make it about making the best app and winning a large pot,” Sewell said. “So we’re really looking at how to distribute the prize pool so that everybody who attends has a chance to take something away from the event.”

For example, he said, all registrants will get a three-month subscription to FrontEndMasters.com, which offers online training videos for web developers. Other prizes include a $5,000 DevLeague scholarship, an opportunity to visit Uber headquarters, conference passes, gift cards (Sewell mentioned Massdrop, a community-curated online store for everything from electronics to kitchen gadgets), and Uber swag.


And top-notch coding isn’t the only skill being recognized. There will also be prizes like the “Beast Mode Award,” the “Noob Glory Award,” and even the “Best Dressed Attendee.”

To prepare for the hackathon, DevLeague is providing two warm-up events. Both will be conducted online to allow people to attend from anywhere. On Tuesday, Oct. 13, they will provide an overview of the program and the Uber API. Then on Monday, Oct. 19, the virtual session will provide tips and tricks on how to quickly develop and deploy applications.

Finally, the main event will run from Friday, Oct. 23 through Sunday, Oct. 25. The statewide venues are:

  • Oahu: The Box Jelly (307a Kamani Street Honolulu, HI 96813)
  • Hawaii Island: Startup Suite 8 (65-1241 Pomaikai Pl #8, Kamuela, HI 96743)
  • Kauai: Anchor Cover Shopping Center (3416 Rice St, Lihue, HI 96766)
  • Maui: Maui Economic Development Board on Friday (1305 North Holopono St. Suite 1), Maui Research Technology Center on Saturday and Sunday (590 Lipoa Pkwy # 155, Kihei, HI 96753)

For more information, visit UberHackathon.DevLeague.com, or follow @DevLeagueHawaii and @Uber_API on Twitter.

Listen to tonight’s interview with Sewell on Bytemarks Cafe here:

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