Wyoming’s First Hack-A-Thon Attracts New Business
Software developers from around the world arrived in Laramie on Friday for Wyoming's first ever Hack-a-Thon. Over the course of the weekend, more than 400 competitors divided into 29 teams and spent 48 hours developing blockchain software and business plans. The groups then presented their plans to a panel of judges, including gubernatorial candidates Mary Throne, Mark Gordon, and Lawrence Streumpf.
In addition to the startups created over the weekend, two larger businesses have agreed to establish operations in Wyoming. In surprise announcements, Overstock.com will be opening a software development office in Wyoming, though the location has not yet been determined. Active Aether, which is currently based in New York City, will be relocating their offices to Jackson Hole.
In addition to the diversity in geography represented at the event, there was also a wide range of ages represented, as the youngest competitors were high school students from Shoshoni. Though they left the competition early, the students had completed proof of concept for an event ticketing system. Because their project showed an immense amout of promise, a representative from the Decent foundation gave the students $10,000 to assist their future endeavors.
Of the 29 teams entered, 27 teams presented their businesses. The subjects of the presentation included: contracts, health care, water rights and music. All of the code written during the weekend is open-source and available to the public.
After the presentations, the gubernatorial candidates gave speeches commending the event and its participants.
"This process gives me hope that we will retain that bright young talent in Wyoming" sad Democratic candidate Mary Throne.
Republican candidate Mark Gordon echoed Throne's sentiments, adding that he hoped the Hack-a-Thon would be "the start of a great parade of Hack-a-Thons and new technology" in the state.
The candidates helped judge the "Best for Wyoming" category, which selected Rawhide as the winning project. With the software built by the Rawhide team, ranchers can make more money per cow by issuing virtual tokens that allow investors to buy fractional interest in a specific cow. There are already plans to expand Rawhide to Australia.
Wyoming Blockchain Coalition co-founder Caitlin Long considered the event to be a resounding success, and expressed her hopes that another event would be held next year, stating that she thought that "Wyoming, and UW specifically, did a wonderful job" hosting the event. She also mentioned that it was a wonderful opportunity for people to see practical applications of blockchain technology, and to clear up common misconceptions about it.
"We're serious businesspeople who want to use this technology to solve everyday problems" said Long.