Hackathons can mean different things to different people. Some are great, others are rubbish. Codelaunch is the former.
Started in DFW in 2012, Codelaunch takes a different approach to most other hackathons. Instead of just setting a random development task or goal for companies to compete on (or, more crucially, demanding equity from winners or participants), Codelaunch took the novel approach of sourcing early-stage startups looking for seed funding (but without a minimum viable product yet developed) and pairing them with local development shops for “free” development work. The startups get elite development work ostensibly for free, helping push them toward a minimum viable product and future seed funding. The development shops get to help promising entrepreneurs and their companies take the next step, while also proving their chops on a big stage in front of a host of companies who need… you guessed it, development work at some point. The development shops “sponsor” seed startups by giving their development time away, and then at the end of Codelaunch, there’s a vote for the winning company/dev shop team.
Leverture and Autix Automotive took home the championship belt at CodeLaunch DFW 2021.
According to their own website, CodeLaunch is the “seed accelerator event that pairs early stage tech startups with professional software development teams to accelerate their trajectory toward MVP, seed funding, and beyond… Each of these incredible startups will receive a professional product development hackathon from one of our seed sponsors. They will work together for 24 hours prior to our final event to prepare their product for the competition.”
From its first event in DFW in 2012, CodeLaunch has since evolved into a traveling seed accelerator and startup expo. “What makes CodeLaunch truly unique is the professional hackathon. Local ‘dev shops’ come together to build out as much of each Finalists’ MVP as possible. The Finalists then demo these products live and for the first time in front of the CodeLaunch audience, who then vote for a winner. CodeLaunch DFW 2021 hackathon teams are provided by Dialexa, Leverture, Allata, Improving Dallas, and Code Authority.”
CodeLaunch DFW 2021
Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney welcomed the audience at Comerica Center on November 17th, saying that “entrepreneurism here in our city is part of our DNA, part of our culture”, according to DallasInnovates. “We treat our entire city as an innovation hub, and we’re starting to get attention across the country,” Cheney said. “We have over 250 startups here in Frisco—and we’re just getting started. We’re going to be the first large city in the country to start with drone deliveries—it’s actually starting here in the next couple of weeks, where you can order a coffee from Starbucks and have it drone-delivered to your house in seven minutes.”
The mayor said Frisco is also working with partners like the University of North Texas “to prepare for the creative economy, and really build our own companies—one of which may be awarded here tonight and, with your services, to become the next great company.”
Leverture takes home top prize with Autix Automotive
Jake Hamann, CEO of Autix, described his company as “an online app platform for automotive enthusiasts, enabling them to create, share, and explore custom vehicle profiles.”
During his on-stage presentation, he said he got the idea for Autix out of frustration with the experience of modifying his Jeep. He found it hard to find resources and ways to share tips and insights. Even online Jeep clubs weren’t enough of a help, as he told it. Hamann soon realized “the problem wasn’t just with the Jeep enthusiast market,” but rather one that was shared by auto enthusiasts across the board.
The resulting idea was Autix. “32 million households a year modify their vehicles,” Hamann said onstage. “SEMA—the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association — estimated in 2019 that it’s a $45.8 billion industry … Automotive hobbyists and enthusiasts lack the means by which to build, share, and view profiles of customized vehicles,” Hamann said.
Hamann reckons that if he can attract a sizable majority of these folks to one destination, it could pay big dividends.
“Nine out of 10 automotive enthusiasts are likely to recommend their vehicle to somebody else—and enthusiasts are four times more valuable to marketers than the average consumer.”
Each development shop works with their respective startup for 24 hours ahead of the hackathon. “Leverture has been a great development partner for us,” Hamann said before the event to DallasInnovates.
Then, after the hackathon is completed, attendees vote on the winning product/partnership. Leverture and Autix took home the top prize, with Leverture helping Autix bring their vision to life in a way that could help Autix secure the $1.5MM in seed funding they’re seeking.