Food Hackathon 1.0

San Francisco held its very first food hackathon last weekend. Put on by passionate food entrepreneurs, the hackathon’s goal was to concentrate the energy around food entrepreneurship in one space for 36 hours and build innovative hacks to solve problems in our food system and eating habits. Food is the greatest common denominator to spark creativity, emotion, and passion throughout the world. It was no surprise that 200 food lovers, designers, and developers united on their common purpose to build software and hardware tools to potentially change the way we eat and think about food.

There were many people, like myself, who have never participated in a hackathon before and there were those already part of a food tech company. There were people with strong ideas and there were those who just wanted to be a part of this new wave in food innovation. Most of the ideas pitched focused on the restaurant, takeout, and chef space. There were a couple of pitches that actually focused on the food system and improving health through nutrition. Teams formed quickly after the pitches and everyone settled down to make their idea into a plausible company and take home one of the $25,000 in prizes allotted to the top three winners.

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This being a food hackathon, the catered food was impressive. Breakfast was pretty nutritious with green smoothies, granola, organic yogurt, and fresh fruit. Far from the usual fare of pastries and commercial orange juice. Contraband Coffee, a local artisan café and roaster, provided the caffeine fuel for the entire weekend. Callie Waldman, who is a Natural Chef from Bauman College, provided Sunday’s extremely delicious and nutritious lunch. There were also local food sellers sampling their amazing raw chocolates and other healthy edibles.

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On Sunday evening, 14 teams pitched their hacks to a panel of judges in front of the 200 people. The more recognizable judges were Dave McClure (500 Startups), Ben Parr (Dominator Fund), Alexa Andrzejewski (Foodspotting), Danielle Gould (Food+Tech Connect), and Naithan Jones (AgLocal).

The overall winner of the hackathon was Vibrantly, an iPhone app to guide people to make nutritious food choices based on food colors. I liked the concept of this app since it focuses on nutrition and not calories for achieving health goals. The next notable winner was Tiny Farms, which makes hardware to make insect farming easier for people around the world who rely on insects for nutrients and income. The team charmed the judges and audience with their homemade “buglava”, baklava made with wax worms. Slim Menu won the new technology hack, which is an app that helps you order from a menu visually. Touchless Ticket built a gestured-based app to optimize workflow and ticket processing in the restaurant kitchen. I collaborated with Leslie Wu on an idea to make gardens out of unused spaces, called Garden B&B, and won the best social hack.

judges

Most of the teams concentrated on recipe search and stocking the pantry. Although, finding a credible recipe and stocking the pantry with utmost convenience are pain points, there are much larger problems that we can solve with innovation in food and technology. We need to focus on food deserts, educating people about nutrition, sustainability, and health, alleviating the environmental toll of food production, and reducing inefficiencies in food distribution. We can change our broken food system. We can build a solution that is affordable, nutritious, and easy for those who need it worldwide.

In a city where great innovations and companies are constantly being built, we were long overdue for an organized food hackathon. This food hackathon proved that technology innovation is no longer limited to the programming genius, but is open to anyone who has the motivation to make a difference. The follow-up Food Hackathon is set to coincide with National Day of Civic Hacking. I will definitely be there and hope more people who want to change the global and local food system will join as well.

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Fitness Fridays: Using Geo-Location Apps to Keep Me Honest

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Last year, I excitedly started using FourSquare. I thought it was cool to check-in to places and share it with my social network.  There was a lot, a lot of hype surrounding geo-location apps. And living in San Francisco, it’s hard to not get caught up in it. Though, after awhile, I got the check-in fatigue. Not all of my friends were using FourSquare and then Facebook Places rolled out, and I didn’t know which service would reap the highest rewards in the long-run. Also, coverage in SF often times really sucks so checking in isn’t a smooth, quick process. Then I heard from a trusted source that mostly only guys check-in and noticed that  most of the pending friend requests on FourSquare were from guys I don’t know. Naturally, I was creeped out  and decided checking in wasn’t so cool anymore. Also, I am not a fan of re-creating a new social network on every site, platform, and app.

It was expected that the geo-location apps would roll out new location based  services that made sense of all the check-ins, so the places I check-in into now are the gym and places related to my start-up or Club Dine In.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to workout four times a week, and checking into the gym or Marina Greens helps me keep track of that goal. Also, it makes me a little more motivated to actually leave my apartment and workout. (The gym is too far from my apartment for me to fake a check-in). I have tried becoming the mayor of the gym, but a personal trainer of the gym is holding onto that mayorship. IMHO, employees should have a different mayorship for working there and checking in. It’s annoying.

Anyway, I am really liking Foursquare 3.0, because now all of those check-ins make sense and are going to result in real-life rewards like personal recommendations. Though, until I am assured that checking in is leveled by both males and females and enough of my real friends join in on checking-in, I will keep my check-ins reserved for Glamour Games and Club Dine In purposes (which includes fitness and eating well).

Do you use FourSquare, Facebook Places, or any other geo-location apps?

Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events. Be sure to sign-up to receive posts and updates straight into your inbox!

Gone Fishing- Not Really

I need to take a small break from blogging- not because I am bored, frustrated, or “over it”. Actually, I am more in love with Club Dine In! than  when I started. As some of you may know, I have been working on my own start-up for quite sometime now and it’s really crunch time. I am attending the Game Developers Conference for the rest of this week. Though, I will still be active on Twitter and Facebook, so please join me there! I tweet and post about many cool events, news about food and fitness, and links to great recipes, ideas, and innovations.

Pictures taken on my iPhone.

The view from the Kalalau Trail on the Napali Coast, Kauai

 

 

Kauai, seen from our helicopter ride.

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.