Seeking to channel innovation to improve people’s lives, eBay Inc. held its first Opportunity Hack at San Jose North campus on Oct. 11-12. About 80 employees and external developers joined 20 representatives from nonprofit organizations to pitch a total of 24 ideas, 20 of which were built and demoed.
Putting Opportunity Hack together involved an impressive effort by a group of people from across eBay Inc., who took on the task outside their usual responsibilities. The core design team included 10 employees from eBay, PayPal and Social Innovation, and an additional half-dozen core volunteers also represented StubHub and other office locations.
“The idea for the hackathon was to allow people to use their technical skills to empower organizations that were doing good in the community,” said Prashanthi Ravanavarapu, who organized the event. “We got wonderful support for this project from across the business.”
At the hackathon, teams worked to build solutions for issues that nonprofits, small businesses and government organizations encounter every day. The top two teams won cash prizes. First prize ($3,000) went to a project for Goodwill Silicon Valley: a job search engine and app to support the organization’s job placement services. Goodwill helps people with barriers to employment and returning veterans get back into the workforce.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to participate and are just thrilled with the outcome,” said Trish Dorsey of Goodwill Silicon Valley. “Not only the great product developed by the team, but winning first place! What a great experience.”
Second prize ($2,000) went to Sharing Hand, whose team built an app to help match people’s needs with items that others are willing to give away. There were also awards such as Best Use of Open Source, Most Fun Team, Extreme Pivot and People’s Choice.
“I can’t fully express how helpful the hackathon was, especially for where we are right now,” said Sveta Janumpalli of New Incentives, another participating nonprofit. “The development guidance and support we received will be instrumental in setting our priorities for the next few months.”
Two of the projects are scheduled to launch in coming months – a food redistribution app for Waste No Food and a fundraising app for the Children’s Discovery Museum. Event organizers are encouraging the teams and nonprofits to continue to collaborate on the development work.
“O-Hack turned out to be a great way to bring together people from across eBay Inc,” Ravanavarapu said. “We are already planning next year’s hackathon, which will be global!”
1st Place: Goodwill Job search
Team: Chris Severs, Sathanarayan Chandrashekar, Tiffany Nguyen, Venkataraghavan Ramanuja (with help from Poornima Venkatakrishnan, Vijay Madhavan, Ron Feathers)
2nd Place: Sharing Hand
Team: Balu Loganathan, Abilash Badri, Ramesh Vai