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over 3 years ago

Kickoff for the Covid-19 Global Hackathon (Key Information)

Hello Team Covid-19 Global Hackathon!

As you probably know, tomorrow at 9am PST is the kickoff of the #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon.  Submissions will be open then and we will be off to the races—working on projects until the submission deadline Monday morning.

Before the event officially starts, I want to talk about two things:

  • First, I want to briefly set the stage for some of our goals as a community and what we hope to accomplish.  
  • Second, I want to offer some tactical guidance around how the next few days will work & how to get the most out of this hackathon as a participant and maximize the impact of your work

Why Build: The Big Picture Context on This Event


We are all here because COVID-19 is a global crisis we all are facing together.  Everyone is affected by this crisis, and everyone has a role to play in the response.  

We all know the critical role that people like doctors and nurses play.  We all know the important work that people are doing manufacturing and distributing critical medical supplies.  Many people, however, have felt at a loss as to how they can get involved and use their skills to help. 

I have seen this firsthand in the tech industry.  People want to put their product, design, and engineering skills to use to help, but they aren’t quite sure how to apply their hard work, skills, and talent.

This hackathon is meant to be a platform for many to get involved and start to explore what they can do now to help.  

If you have an idea and the skill to execute your vision, do it.  If you need inspiration or direction on what would be meaningful to build, there are great partners here to help you.  If you need help from others that care, find it here in the next few days.

From a small initial idea, we have thousands of people participating from around the globe.  

We hope and expect we will be able to do a lot of good both by delivering useful projects and code to organizations that have outlined specific needs, as well as by giving space and time for teams to come together to explore ideas about how to help that otherwise might not have been tried.

Thank you to the big tech companies that have gotten involved. Facebook, Giphy, Microsoft, Pinterest, Slack, TikTok, Twitter and WeChat have all given their teams time to work on this Hackathon.  This is epic.

Thank you to the students that are participating, and to organizations like Hack Club and AllStarCode who encouraged their communities to get involved.

Thank you to the startup communities and venture capital funds (Slow Ventures -my firm-, 8VC, South Park Commons, Neo, and many more) who reached out to their ecosystems and encouraged people to come together.

And, finally - thank you to organizations like the WHO, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, and for helping lend context to some key problem areas and potential projects.

Our goal as organizers is to enable everyone to do great and meaningful work in the next few days.  We have some great stuff in the works like fireside chats and office hours with great people that we will be messaging about.  We have awesome judges that will help give feedback on projects and help the best projects get distribution & potentially more resources to continue…  but this is a real-time crisis and we are #doingitlive so please reach out if you have suggestions.

Get after it!

- Sam Lessin (@lessin)

Administrivia: How the Next Few Days Will Work


Please find a brief update below, including what to expect when registering, finding a teammate or submitting a project during the hackathon. Most of this information refers back to our hackathon page, where you can find loads of other details. You should also sign up for the slack group where we will be posting updates, inviting people to real-time zoom conversations, office hours with leaders, etc. throughout the event.


  • Registrations already opened on Tuesday March 24, and new participants are welcome to join and submit projects from March 26 at 9:00am PDT right up until our Monday March 30, 9am PDT submission deadline. Follow these two steps to get started in the hackathon:
    • Navigate to our hackathon page and click the green “Register for this hackathon” button on the right
    • If you don’t have a Devpost account, you’ll need to follow some quick steps to create one in order to take part

Finding teammates

  • When registering for the hackathon, you’ll have the ability to register as “looking for a teammate”
    • Select this option if interested, and add a couple sentences explaining your idea if you have one, and the skills or experience that you’re looking for in a teammate 
    • Once you’ve registered, you can search for other people looking for teammates. To do this, navigate to the Participants tab and send a ‘Team-up’ request to any fellow developers who you might want to build with
      • A quick way to filter for people looking for a teammate is to select the check-box below the search bar for “Only show participants looking for teammates”
  • Also, don’t forget to join our Slack group and introduce yourself in the #introductions channel, where there’s already a buzzing community bouncing around some really inspiring ideas. Take a look through the channel to find people with similar objectives or people who are looking for your skillset or experience 

Submitting a project

  • Project submissions go live tomorrow (Thursday March 26) at 9am PDT until Monday March 30 at 9am PDT. 
    • You’ll need to submit your project directly via the Submissions tab on the hackathon page during that period
    • Don’t forget that you’ll also need to include a short 2-min video walk-through to showcase your solution. For the full requirements of these videos, please refer to our main hackathon page

Competition resources

  • Hackathon project list: To help spark your innovative ideas, we’ve gathered together a range of challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic from partners including the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UN Women, as well as local governments, private enterprises and more 
  • Data-sets & tools: With data-sets from verified sources including the John Hopkins Virus Dashboard Repository and Tableau, as well as a wide range of building tools, this directory is a great starting point for your project research
  • Rules: Make sure you check out our full list of our competition rules
  • We will keep updating and improving the project list and data-sets / tools throughout the next few days, so please send suggestions and check back


  • If you have a question or need help on something regarding the event overall, feel free to reach out to Adam Heerwagen (
  • If you are looking for help and guidance on what to build, or are looking for product feedback, please use the product-help channel.  We will have some great experts engaging there both from the tech world as well as who are specialists in the needs around the COVID-19 crisis.

Thank you all for coming together to ideate and innovate around the many challenges related to coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re excited to support your journey throughout the hackathon, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact your projects will generate around the world during this hackathon and after.