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It’s A Simple 24-Hours That Will Simply Change Your Life

Tags: Molly Livingstone, Science and technology, People and Society

Q&A with The Jerusalem Keep It Simple Hackathon Founders

It was a wild and crazy 24-hours for the tech community in Jerusalem, with The Keep It Simple Hackathon, where participants from all professional backgrounds came together to build simple-to-use apps. Young and old, Jewish and Muslim, men and women, all came together,to make your life a little less stressful one app at a time. In this exclusive Q&A, Israel Forever, caught up with the young entrepreneurs, Max Voloshin and Reuven Karasik, from Israel Forever’s 2016 Seeds of Inspiration, to find out why they initiated the hackathon, what their goals were for the day and whether they they see themselves as the next Steve Jobs.

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Q: We hear the word Hackathon a lot, but for people living outside of Silicon Valley and the Start Up Nation, what does it mean?

A: Hackathon is a 24-hour competition, where people come to a certain location, split into teams and then work for 24-hours straight on an app or a product. The word Hackathon comes from Hack and Marathon, because it is a marathon of hacking :) Usually those events have a theme or a subject, and all the apps or products are related to that theme (e.g. Education, Transportation, etc.).

Q: That sounds exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. So why did you create the Keep It Simple Hackathon?

A: The Keep It Simple Hackathon was an event organized by Max Voloshin and myself, that was held on June 9th and 10th in the Azrieli College in Jerusalem. The theme was, as you can guess, building "simple" products: apps and websites that have one main feature and are easy to use and understand.

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Max and I have participated together in plenty of Hackathons and we were always sad to see that the 24-hour limit caused people to not finish their projects or come up with cool apps that looked bad, because they couldn't focus both on the development and the design in time to complete everything. Because of that, we decided to organize a Hackathon that for the first time that will allow people to leave with a ready and complete product in hand, which also looks good. In The Keep It Simple Hackathon, because the apps were so simple, we could put more focus on the design and the UX of the products and everyone was able to complete their products within the 24-hour timeframe.

Q: Again, amazing. But why Jerusalem?

A: I am a huge fan of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the biggest city in Israel, the capital of the StartUp Nation, and so many amazing things are happening here yet no one hears about them. In the last few years, this city has grown so much in terms of high-tech companies and startups. We have more than 300 startups and many accelerators, Venture Capitals, and hubs for entrepreneurs. At Made in JLM we help the startup community grow, also by organizing events like the Keep It Simple Hackathon 2016.

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Q: So...How did it go?

A: We had more than 100 participants who came to the event and 26 different teams competed, including students from all over Israel-- teenagers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs of all ages and kinds. The event was an amazing success, and we have received wonderful feedback from everyone who participated.

Q: Who won?

A: First place, Looner: A great and useful app that reminds us about our friends' birthdays ahead of time, so that we can prepare for the ones who we care about. This cool app *is already on the Play Store!*

Second place, BumbleBee: A beautifully designed game that helps us learn how to spell words, simply by listening to them and typing them as fast as possible.

Third place, Shade: A cool app that tells us on which side of the bus we need to sit to make sure we won't get the sun in our face, based on the bus/train line we're taking and the time of the day.

Those amazing teams have worked hard and won a set of prizes including 6,000 NIS, Escape Room tours for the teams, one-month office rental in Jerusalem and more.

Q: What is your goal for the future? What now?

A: It's hard to say what now :) This event was the main thing we did and what we worked for, for the last 4 or 5 months. It's crazy to think it's over...

We are considering continuing the tradition and doing a Keep It Simple Hackathon 2017, but for now,- we're just taking a break from the overwhelming experience of organizing something so big.

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Molly Livingstone is a freelance reporter and comedian, not to mention a mother of two, living in Jerusalem. While playing all those roles, the script remains the same, showing the world the Israel that she sees everyday, from the people and places, to the culture and definitely the food.




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