Marathon Data Systems to Host Charity App Hackathon June 7

Photo: Developers gather at Cowerks in Asbury Park for last year's Marathon Hackathon, the Jersey Shore Come-back-athon. Photo Credit: Bret Morgan-Cowerks

Developers gather at Cowerks in Asbury Park for last year’s Marathon Hackathon, the Jersey Shore Come-back-athon. | Bret Morgan-Cowerks

Marathon Data Systems (Neptune) will host its second annual hackathon — this one to create an app for charities — June 7, 2014.

“Charitable giving is a core value of Marathon Data Systems and one that we remained committed to even during rapid growth, Chris Sullens, CEO and president of the company, said in a statement.

“In the 12 months since our last hackathon, we more than doubled the size of our office and added more than 30 new employees; we’re thrilled to introduce our newest team members to this event and to the volunteer programmers and judges who devote their time and energy to helping make it a success,” the statement continued.

“New Jersey is a hotbed of talent, and our rapid growth in recent years has been fueled by hires from within the state,” Sullens told NJTechWeekly.com in a follow-up email. Marathon was recently approved for a Grow NJ award of up to $3.2 million, Sullens said, and is committed to “identifying, hiring and keeping the best talent that New Jersey has to offer.

“Events like the hackathon present a great opportunity to assist local charities, one of Marathon’s core values, but also to expose local software developers to our culture and to identify talented individuals who may partner with or join the Marathon team down the road as we continue to grow,” Sullens noted.

According to the hackathon website, programmers are invited to code for 26.2 hours among a group of peers to compete for a grand prize of $1,000. The event will take place at Marathon’s Neptune offices with the goal of creating a fully functioning mobile app that will connect volunteers with charities.

Said the website, “Form your own team, work alone, or create a team upon arrival, it is up to you. At the end of the 26.2-hour period, pitch your idea to a panel of judges. Winner will be determined based on creativity, execution and usefulness of the app.”

Marathon had worked with Bret Morgan, organizer of Jersey Shore Tech Meetup and owner of the Cowerks (Asbury Park) coworking space, to develop the event. The first Marathon hackathon took place at Cowerks. NJTechWeekly.com covered it here.

The idea of devoting a hackathon to connecting individuals or groups with charities originated with Nicole Trivigno, Marathon’s office manager. “Recently, while looking for available volunteer opportunities, it occurred to me that it would be much easier if I could use a single app to see a snapshot of all the local charities, their volunteer schedules and needs instead of visiting each charity’s website,” she said.

“With that in mind, we decided to focus our hackathon event on addressing this need and benefiting both those looking to volunteer and their neighboring charities,” Trivigno said.

“Last year we decided to create an annual event that would bring together large groups of talented developers to solve issues that affect our local community or benefit local charities. We focused our inaugural hackathon on bringing business back to the Jersey Shore in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” Sullens said.

“This year we shift the focus to reducing barriers to local charitable giving. The tri-state area has a wealth of software development talent, and we’re thrilled to provide an opportunity to leverage that expertise for charity,” he added.

“The hackathon will certainly have a heavy local focus, as most of our participants will be from New Jersey,” Sullens told NJTechWeekly.com. “We won’t limit the competition to focus solely on local charities, because if a team creates an app that works on a larger scale, it stands to offer [a] greater benefit, which is ultimately the goal of the event.”

“Of course, with only 26.2 hours to create an app from scratch, teams that stay locally focused may have an advantage. On the other hand, with the level of talent on each team, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to exceed expectations. That’s the beauty of this hackathon. It creates a competitive environment focused solely on benefiting charities; it’s a win-win,” he said.

The final apps will be evaluated by a panel of judges made up of local charity staff members, Marathon executives and Bret Morgan. In addition to having the satisfaction of contributing its expertise to worthwhile charitable causes, the winning team will win a $1,000 prize and the runners-up will receive $600.

Marathon Data Systems offers a cloud-based business management platform that provides operational intelligence and support to solve the needs of companies with a mobile workforce. The open platform is aimed at verticals within field services, transportation and logistics.

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