What Happened at Ghana’s First eCommerce Hackathon

After a successful developers conference in August this year, we set an audacious task; to organize a hackathon. From the response we received from MPower during our panel discussion at DevCongress, we decided to partner with SMSGh to come up with the DevCongress MPower Payments API Hackathon.
It was a great time having developers dedicate their time to build products on the MPower Payments API last Saturday, 5thOctober, 2013. Don’t worry, we are aware the money was a major motivation too.
So we set off on our hackathon at about 10am at iSpace, mainly because of some logistical issues, and developers didn’t arrive on time. By the time we began, we had enough people to get the games going. For the developers who came early, there was breakfast to cater for any eventualities.
As expressed earlier, some people came in their teams, as others came to form teams at the event. The standard was at least 2 and at most 3 per team. In the end, almost all the teams which turned out were 3 in number.
For most of the developers, this was the first time they had taken a look at the API, something I wouldn’t advise prior to a hackathon. Look at it at least twice before the event. That’s not cheating!
The day began with an ideation session as the teams took time to find ideas which they can integrate MPower Payments with. Then the coding session began at about 11am.
So the developers hacked till about 3 pm when we took a break for a code chat. This code chat was meant to keep all participants abreast of what each team was up to. Since this was not an ideation competition, the focus was on building a product so discussing your idea was not a major hurdle. In the background, teams were called for interviews .
After the code chat, teams got back together, and continued hacking. Right about that time, the mixologists and the DJ had started setting up. DJ Adom also came in with lights. The mood for the party was already set!

At about 6pm, teams were asked to round up their work, bringing the coding session to a close. This was followed by a reminder of the rules and criteria by which the teams would be judged. So they were: 50% for MPower integration, 30% for finishing the product, 10% for UI, and 10% for the pitch itself.
At the end of the pitches, the SpeedBanking team of First Capital Plus Bank, setup up a short presentation as the teams took their rounds at the judges’ tables. In all, the developers had put in a great deal of effort to build products in such a short time.
After all the teams had gone through to the judges’ tables, they spent a few minutes on the dance floor.
It wasn’t long after that the dancing was paused for the final declarations.
At the end of the event, Fundr Africa came first, EasyFundssecond, while Caridad took the 3rd place. It was such a delight to see on-screen as the cash prizes were disbursed into the developers’ MPower accounts live. For bonus point, all teams were given the 2-week window to complete and deploy their products and win GHC 500 instantly. How cool is that!
After the team presentations, MPower took the floor to congratulate Alfred Rowe for his immense contribution to MPower Payments. The previous day, MPower Payments had swooped several awards in 5 categories at TopApps Award 2013, making SMSGh the App Company of the Year.
On the whole, there were not as many developers as one would expect at a hackathon. However, the general participation of the developers who were present was very encouraging.
We, the DevCongress team, are really grateful for the interest expressed by the developers. We are glad you have set out on this journey with us; we promise to deliver the best content for software developers in Ghana. #LetsDoThis
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Build, Hack and Win at the DevCongress MPower Payments API Hackathon

We have great news. But first, we are glad you helped us in starting out with our first developer conference last August. Thank you!

We have come so far with you. And we’re asking you to join us on our next biggest move – we’re hacking on the MPower Payments API! As you remember, we talked a lot about mobile payment solutions in Ghana at our first DevCongress. We, together with MPower Payments, have decided to give you a chance to hack, build and win with the MPower Payments API. Awesome, isn’t it?
We have partnered with SMSGh for this hackathon, so come join us this Saturday, 5th October at the premises of the iSpace Foundation in Osu from 8 am till your code works! We know that most developers in Ghana would like to make use of mobile payments; this is the perfect opportunity for you to finally build that outstanding product and begin to make some real good money.
This is how it works.

You come with your team of up to 3 people, or you can form a team of at most 3 people at the hackathon. No one knows it all, so we wanted to see “trio-programming” at work this time. The teams would be required to cross some checklists, and help other teams, to build points for themselves as they create their applications. Obviously, the team with the most points, and the most efficient code, wins. That simple!

There will be guys from MPower, the developers who built the API, who will help you answer the difficult questions about the API. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a pro to join but it sure helps. Come, you may just meet your co-founder or your biggest business partner yet. Oh, and some executives will be passing through. Get those networking skills ready and your business cards. Your next job may depend on that.

Get involved, register at https://egotickets.com/events/devcongress-hackathon

Since this is the first e-commerce hackathon in Ghana, we’re making it big. It’s not just code, there’s light, camera and … #LetsDoThis