Cincy Startups and the Artswave Hackathon

“Over the past few months, I’ve become fascinated with startups and the way they work. Just as they have disrupted traditional economies and industries, Startups disrupt many traditional ideas surrounding a typical workplace and seem to be the first to pick up on future trends. After discovering what a huge Startup scene is growing in Cincinnati it seems that they are disrupting things around here, too, but it wasn’t until I participated in the Artswave: Arts + Tech Challenge/ Hackathon, and got to experience what it might be like to be a Startup for one weekend myself, that I truly began to understand the impressive, creative influence and energy that this scene can bring to the city.

It definitely was a step outside of the box, but after being inspired by so many people encouraging me to put myself out there, I decided to go for it. When I told people that I was doing this, the response was mostly, what’s a hackathon? Honestly, I didn’t really even know when I walked in there what exactly I would be doing. For a detailed description, I will divert you to Google or the event website, but basically it was a competition of 11 teams that were tasked to create a solution (typically a mobile app) to connect people to the arts around Cincinnati.

I didn’t know anyone, but as soon as I walked in I was excited to be a part of the energy there. After listening to the various arts challenges, we self-organized into teams and I ended up with an amazing group of people whose skills ranged from development to business to design. We all instantly connected, and, although we had different types of jobs and lived in different places, or were at different stages in life, we worked together like we had been long-time collaborators and friends. Everyone was cooperative, helpful, and willing to share their ideas, but also to listen. Our shared passion to make a difference and to connect people (and the fun we had hanging out together) led our team and app, Arts360, to win second place, determined by a panel of arts and tech judges!

It was so awesome to be a part of such a huge, creative effort to bring people together around the arts. The Artswave Hackathon and the amazingly talented, creative, and cooperative people (not just my teammates, but everyone I met there) working to make a difference in Cincinnati made me so excited for the future of the city. I am so glad that I took a chance, stepped out of my bubble, and took on the challenge of the Hackathon. Not only did I have an inspirational learning experience, but I also got to drink some beer, hang out in a cool space with cool people, and gain a new group of friends to continue to develop our Arts360 app, which will connect even more people to their own inspirational experiences!

I was introduced to a side of Cincinnati that I knew existed, but had never been a part of before. The people I met and heard speak were successful, open, and passionate about the success of Cincinnati and their own communities. They have showed me that making yourself a bit vulnerable and being open to new experiences can really pay off, and it sparked a desire in me to understand and be a part of this disruptive movement pushing Cincinnati (and the rest of the country) forward in a more creative and collaborative direction.”

Mary Kate Genis, Junior Workplace Design Strategist, regularly reflects on her experiences as she discovers how design impacts workplaces and the way people work in Cincinnati.

Follow her on LinkedIn  to keep up with her experiences and insights.

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