How I Organized Puerto Rico’s First Hackathon

How I Organized Puerto Rico’s First Hackathon


About a year ago I was celebrating the very first hackathon hosted in my little island, Puerto Rico. At the time I didn’t work at SendGrid, but I was very much into hackathons. You might say I became obsessed with hackathons after seeing the dynamic in Battle of the Braces. The startup community in Puerto Rico is small, but growing steadily. Therefore I wanted to put my little grain of sand in the community.

I partnered with  Ramphis Castro, a local entrepreneur. With barely two or three weeks of anticipation we got the word out in the different college campuses and in the startup community. We started to look for swag, prizes, and donations to pay for the food and drinks in the event. I wrote a blog post. When Giovanni Collazo added it to Hacker News, that caught the attention of Swift, then a SendGrid evangelist. He offered to fly out and hang out with us. Some of the participants said that having him there was the best part of the event.

Yamil and Swift in Puerto Rico

The night before the event, we had locked down the food, venue, and prizes. The day came and I thought no one was going to show up. Turns out we had more people than expected. Then came one tiny problem: there was no power at the venue! I freaked out. But everyone started hacking without power. Meanwhile, Ramphis and I looked for a replacement venue. Thankfully, an hour later we moved to an awesome place where the administrators were super supportive.

Hackers hacking at Hack PR

At the end, we had demos for both software and hardware. People were extremely excited and started asking me to organize another one. Bigger. Much bigger. Their feedback was incredible. That hackathon inspired other hackathons and helped jump-start a more united community.

Hackers demo at Hack PR

That feeling of creating, inspiring, and supporting community is why I joined SendGrid as a developer evangelist. We know community doesn’t just happen in big cities at huge events. In fact, sometimes small hackathons are the best. If you want to organize an event, hit me up. I want to help you feel the same excitement that I did last year at Puerto Rico’s first hackathon. And SendGrid may very well be willing to help turn on the lights.

More Posts by Yamil
Puerto Rican and hackNY '13 fellow. Always looking to hack/experiment something new. You can follow me @elbuo8
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