HACKFit: A Truly Healthy Competition

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 12.51.49 PMYou may or may not have heard of a hackathon: a day to a weeklong event where computer and app programmers work intensively in a competitive atmosphere to create new software-based products and businesses. According to Justin Mendelson, founder of HACKFit, avid triathlon competitor and engineer, hackathons are highly useful, but also one of the most unhealthy things he has ever done. Mendelson describes sleepless nights fueled by way too many energy drinks and an overload of pizza as competitors work nonstop to develop their product and business.

Mendelson found another problem with hackathons. When he would pitch ideas to create fitness-related apps, such a running app for marathon runners, other engineers who weren’t physically active didn’t understand and had no interest in his idea. Mendelson points out that an app is much more affective when created by people who embody the target customer.

In true innovator style, Mendelson saw a need and decided to fill it by creating HACKFit, the healthy alternative to a hackathon that focuses on creating health and fitness-related technology. Instead of pizza, energy drinks, sitting in front of computer screens for countless hours and sleepless nights, HACKFit offers fitness industry innovators a weekend of healthy meals, workouts to break up the workload and participants are encouraged to get a full night’s sleep.

HACKFit_Date Æ’

The first HACKFit competition will take place in our very own city in just a couple of weeks. Here’s a a breakdown of the competition:

Friday, September 20th

Participants meet at Microsoft NERD and engage in an active ice-breaker, enjoy a healthy dinner, followed by a set time where innovators pitch their business ideas. After all pitches have been made, teams will form. Mendelson says that teams form organically as people who don’t pitch approach people who had an idea they would like to work on and ask to join their team. Although this is the first competition of it’s kind, it is predicted there will be around fifteen teams of 5-12 members. Once teams are formed, groups will begin working on their ideas.

Saturday September 21st

After a well-balanced breakfast, participants will have different workout options throughout the day ranging from running to yoga and rock-climbing to CrossFit all at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville. After the classes and dinner, teams have free time to work on their businesses.

Sunday, September 22nd

Teams wake-up to a relaxing yoga class and are offered time to meet with mentors throughout the day. In the afternoon, each group presents the weekend’s accomplishments to investors and a winning team is chosen. The first place champions receive $1,000 cash and second place receives $500 cash with other prizes awarded for the type of product developed.

If you are interested in taking part in the first ever HACKFit event, make sure you register, and here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you plan on pitching an idea (which you are encouraged to do), make sure you are prepared: be able to describe your business model, plan out what you will realistically be able to accomplish in a weekend and make a list of what resources you will need for that weekend
  • No coding or any building of the product can be done before the competition in order to create an even playing field
  • All pitches should be technology-based businesses in order to create a product that can actually be flushed out in the span of a weekend
  • You cannot pitch a business that you have already brought to the market or have done significant work on
  • You’re going to want to bring a change of clothes
  • It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind experience
Don’t have a technical background, but still want to be involved?

HACKFit is also seeking people with business, marketing, PR and/or professional athletic backgrounds.

For more information and to register visit HACK-Fit.com.
HackFit is also working with Shape Up Somerville to help them encourage students to ride their bike and walk to school as well track if students are actually following through with this and if so, how the change is affecting the Somerville community. For more information visit somervillema.gov/departments/health/sus.