Future of Food Hackathon: GOODTRUCK Takes Second Place

Just last weekend I decided to shake things up a bit and attend the  Future of Food Hackathon in San Francisco. Having never been to a hackathon before, I didn't know what to expect.  I'm not a hacker nor a web developer or anything of the sort. However, I love a good piece of technology that makes choosing healthy food easier. Turns out that was enough to get things started...my team - GOODTRUCK- won second place out of more than 20 teams who pitched their ideas. 

Here is how it all went down: 

SATURDAY MORNING - About 250 ambitious, fun, dedicated and quirky folks assembled at Tagged in downtown San Francisco.  There were hard-core hackers replete with their +Google Glass though I heard offline mutterings about how people just don't like the cyborg look of em. There were venture capitalists and investor types looking for the next big thing. There were graphic designers, UI specialists (that's user interface types), coders and of course green juicers wearing NASA space gear. It was San Francisco after all. 

SATURDAY MID-MORNING - We sit attentively and listen to thirty or more pitches, one by one. We hear everything from chef-run programs to promote vegetables to online communities linking global chefs to home cooks to programs designed to reduce food waste which is  reported to be upwards of 40% of our food. 

SATURDAY TIL 9PM  - We form teams, which is easier said than done really. This is essentially the entire room of a few hundred people trying to see who they want to partner with to make something amazing in less than 48 hours.  I go based on my gut which means find people who exhibit a healthy mix of right and left brain activity. My teammates are as follows:

  • George Mathew: Founder Serelyn, LLC; brilliant mobile app developer, former M&A guy
  • Lucian Novosel: Student at UC-Davis; crazy talented graphic designer who loves gradients
  • John Serrao: Government consultant by day; amazing, highly dedicated mobile site developer
  • Me
  • Elvis Stumbergs: Regulatory lawyer by day; most excellent writer, thinker and image editor
  • Elena Zlobina: Freelance graphic designer in Bay area; unwavering in focus and vision

By the end of the day we have a master plan all mapped out for our GOODTRUCK mobile app designed to link food truck vendors ("Food Truckers") and customers ("Hungry Eaters") through a robust, yet simple interface.  

GOODTRUCK tracks business analytics for the Food Trucker to help in consistent cash flow, which is their number one challenge based on our initial research with +FlavorPlease.  GOODTRUCK helps Hungry Eaters find the food they want at the location they want in real time.

It is as simple as that, though our whiteboard clearly goes into the back-end and various future iterations involving nutrition analytics and other useful angles with credit to Curtis Pope a AisleFinder.  For example, if you log in and declare yourself a vegan then you won't get the Bacon Bacon truck showing up in your hot list of trucks nearby. 

SUNDAY 9AM  - After a raw foods dinner the night before and a decent night's rest, we are back at it.  The day goes by quickly and by 4pm we are ready to share our work in front of the judging panel.  We are all registered on  HackerLeague and ready to pitch after many focused hours of concentrated team work. Our pitch - #17 out of 21 total -  is caught on video.

SUNDAY 6:30PM - Winners are announced and we proudly receive our 2nd place prize!  Hard to believe a team who never met before worked so well together. Well wishes and advice comes our way...one woman tells us to rename ourselves from GOODTRUCK to Go Truck Yourself, one guy says be glad you got second place not first because based on American Idol it is best not to win, win and many others weigh in too. 

It was all so satisfying that we are continuing are work...more to come on that. If you are a Food Trucker or Hungry Eater, we want to hear from you!