Miami Tech & Startup News

Miami Hack Week going big, with help from SoftBank, Atomic and major crypto players

Miami Hack Week going big, with help from SoftBank, Atomic and major crypto players

Miami Hack Week returns later this month with big plans for 1,000+ hackers, and following the trends of this past year, the weeklong series of events will lean heavily Web3. This year, SoftBank and Atomic are teaming up as brand partners and will be getting their portfolio companies involved in helping to make year 2 of the the so-Miami hackathon Jan. 23-30 a big success.

SoftBank, which has been betting on MiamiTech with its now $250 million+ initiative   to invest in Miami startups, is bringing on four hacker houses, said Ja’dan Johnson, a founder and a chief organizer of Miami Hack Week. With the co-sponsorship of SoftBank and Atomic, a prominent startup venture builder and investment firm now based in Wynwood, together more than 100 engineers from their portfolio companies, including Atomic’s OpenStore, will be involved with the hackathon week and recruiting engineers all week, Johnson said on Saturday. “This partnership represents the diversity of collaborations that we are able to spin up. It’s pretty exciting.”

Major crypto players such as Polygon and Terra, as well as 2TM, a SoftBank portfolio company and the largest crypto exchange in Brazil, and Handshake, a leading crypto investor, are all-in as sponsors, Johnson said. Miami blockchain startup QuickNode will be back with a Hacker House, and this year there will be a Shrimp Society/Solana House too; indeed, most of the houses so far are themed for crypto or blockchain. “We’re shaping up to be a Web3 focused hackathon, very much aligned with where the Miami tech community is headed,” Johnson said.

To date, Miami Tech Week reports that it has participation commitments from about 25 Hacker Houses, where developers, designers and other entrepreneurial techies will work together building projects solving real-world problems, and more houses could be added, Johnson said. Some favorites are returning, including Ramp and Hard Tech Miami, and homegrown insurtech startup Lula will be part of SoftBank’s presence. Each house typically will accommodate a couple dozen hackers and will host some events.

New this year is a “Miami HQ Track,” in which Miami’s co-working spaces, including The LAB Miami and CIC Miami, will be hosting hackers and events. Hackers that don’t get into a hacker house – some have already filled up – or want to float around are welcome to hack at the co-working spaces.

Johnson said Miami Hack Week is expecting 1,000+ hackers, at least double the participation of the inaugural Miami Hack Week held in August and founded by Backend Capital’s Lucy Guo and Dave Fontenot as well as Johnson. Like last year, about half of the participants are flying in from around the country, which makes the week an outstanding recruiting event for the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County.

“Hopefully the visiting engineers will see this beautiful city as a place where they can build, live, play,” Johnson said. That’s exactly what happened last year, with a number of new-to-Miami techies either visiting for the first time or the event reaffirmed they made the right choice.

Crypto expert Anthony Pompliano gave a tech talk at an event last August at the QuickNode Hacker House.

Yet, while the purpose of Miami Hack Week, free to participants, is to be “super experiential” where hackers build and show off the projects on the final demo day (and compete for thousands of dollars in prizes), Miami Hack Week is also a recruiting event for the companies sponsoring houses. Every one of them needs engineers and hopes to reel in developer talent to build with them for the long-term, Johnson said. Product managers and designers too.

To get more students involved, this year Miami Hack Week is partnering with local universities  in what it calls Hack@Campus, which will provide programming and stipends to students. Participating students can take part in all Miami Hack Week events and there will also be some planned particularly for them, including networking with local tech startups. Students can still sign up here through Jan. 20, Johnson said.

“I’m most excited about planting the seeds,” Johnson said on a recent Cafecito Talk with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Johnson also wants more women and minorities participating this year. “I literally don’t sleep trying to make sure Miami Hack Week represents … the fabric of Miami, which is incredibly diverse.”

Miami Tech Week is partnering with Miami-based On/Go by Intrivo to provide their Covid test kits to every attendee. “We’re also working to provide on-site testing during the week and taking effective measures to ensure a safer environment for all our attendees,” Johnson said, noting that the decentralized nature of the event – smaller groups spread all over town – also helps.

Find out more and register for Miami Hack Week by Jan. 15 here.

Be sure to check out Johnson’s recent Cafecito Talk with Mayor Suarez. The City of Miami is returning as a Miami Hack Week partner, contributed $50K, Suarez announced.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

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