“What’s a hackathon?” my 14-year-old sister texted me after I asked if she wanted to come with me to the New York City Masters of Code hackathon. Instead of telling her it was a competition to create a prototype using MasterCard APIs to drive creativity and commerce on a global scale, I told her what I thought any social media queen tween would find cool, “A competition to make the next best app using MasterCard technology ”– I also mentioned she could help me capture the event through MasterCard’s social media. To my surprise, she responded saying “YES?!?!?!”
Saturday morning we made our way to the Impact Hub in our “Keep Calm and Hack On” t-shirts not knowing what to expect. As the doors opened we were surrounded by stress balls, sleep masks, food galore and over 150 eager coders of all ages. MasterCard’s CFO, Martina Hund-Mejean, was there with her daughter and kicked off the morning with an inspiring pep talk that honestly made me even believe I could hack and make a difference. It was cool to see Martina, sporting a hoodie, on a Saturday morning, spending time with her daughter at such an amazing event.
Once the coding had begun we walked around and got to know some of the teams and were surprised to learn that one of the hackers was a junior in college and another had just turned 17 years old. A light bulb went off in my sister’s head as she realized she could be doing this – there is no age requirement for innovation.
It was the guy in the Star Wars t-shirt using the Google cardboard VR glasses that caught our attention next. He was working with his brother, sister-in-law and work friend to create the next best visual shopping experience – naturally we were hooked. As we asked questions we gained a better understanding of their individual skill sets and the patience and collaboration needed to be successful as a family and team. Little did we know that this team, Visual E-Commerce, would be named the regional runners-up.
And the family love didn’t stop there. It turns out that the Masters of Code NYC winning team was comprised of two couples. Team Pay Butler, kept calm and hacked their way to the Grand Finale in Silicon Valley where they will compete for the title Masters of Code. While there, they will experience a Priceless Surprise – talk about the perfect couples retreat!
Although the weekend of hacking wasn’t exactly what you would have in mind for sisterly bonding, I was beyond proud to expose my little sister to such an inspiring event and show her how MasterCard brings technology to life. It was confirmed she had a good time when I got a text from her asking “So… can we go to the London hackathon?”