The Hack-AI-thon: A Three-Day Event by Craft Ventures That Will Keep You on Your Toes!

Anna Gandrabura
6 min readMay 27, 2023
Photo by Kevin Fagundes

Craft Ventures, a venture capital firm, organized an exciting tech event called The Hack-AI-thon in San Francisco last week. The Hack-AI-thon, a three-day event was a massive success! Hackers from all over the world got together to showcase their skills and compete for the $10k prize money in different categories.

With around 260 attendees, the event saw an impressive turnout, and 96 teams submitted their projects on day three. From ideation to building and pitching it all in just three days, The Hack-AI-thon created a buzz that lasted throughout the event and after. I was thrilled to host a workshop on How to pitch a demo and highlight the importance of soft skills in a tech career just like we do at Techville when working with tech teams.

Let me share the event highlights as it was one of the most remarkable hackathons I have ever been to.

1. The Hackathon Embraced Diversity

One of the major highlights of The Hack-AI-thon was the inclusion of both tech and non-tech tracks. This made it possible for non-coding attendees to participate in the hackathon and showcase their skills. The event provided a level playing field for everyone, irrespective of their programming skills or experience. Furthermore, this diversity of participants meant that it gave a great opportunity to people with diverse backgrounds. We need more inclusive tech events to attract new talent. The tech industry needs non-techies just as much.

2. The Niche AI-Oriented Hackathon

The Hack-AI-thon, being a niche event for AI enthusiasts, gave the attendees a unique insight into the current AI trends and advancements. With a focus on AI and its applications in various fields, the participants were able to see how AI is revolutionizing different industries. The event was an excellent platform for people to explore advanced AI technologies, learn from the industry experts during workshops, and put their skills to the test.

Ornella Altunyan hosting a workshop

3. Impressive Turnout

The event saw a great response from the AI community, and attendees from various parts of the world participated in the hackathon. Around 260 people checked in to enjoy the experience, and 96 teams submitted their projects. This high turnout was a testimony to the fact that everyone wants to build with AI :)

4. Solo Teams

Another notable takeaway was the number of solo teams that participated in the hackathon. Even without a team, a solo participant can work with AI tech which made it possible to create things on your own. The Hack-AI-thon gave the solo teams an opportunity to showcase their talent and compete with the best.

Joery Leemans pitching ProtoPro

5. How it all went

Day 1 of the event started with team formation right on the spot; if someone had an idea, they could pitch it, and others could join right away. It was a great opportunity for attendees to meet new people and form team collaborations for the next two days. Workshops by industry experts on artificial intelligence, LLM, and Chat GPT were very popular among participants. Hackers could work on their projects until 10 pm and then resume as early as 8 am the next day.

Vin Sachidananda from TwoSigmaVC

Day 2 saw all-day hacking, with another workshop on How to pitch a demo and a Prompt Battle. A workshop on soft skills was a great addition to the event, as it’s not just about what you build, but also how to present it to your audience in a way that is easy to understand. I was happy to lead the workshop on How to pitch a demo and share my thoughts from a soft skills instructor and a recent Miami Hack Week judge standpoint alongside with Eric Browrout, a co-founder of Frigade who had been to over 10 hackathons and even found his co-founder of Frigade at one of them.

Eric Brownrout and Anna Gandrabura hosting How to pitch a demo workshop

Prompt Battle hosted Nader Khalil and Joseph Nelson was everyone’s favorite activity. Two hackers had to generate art using creative prompts, and the audience voted for the artwork they liked the most. I think this should be a team building activity at any tech company these days :)

By the end of Day 2, all teams had to submit their projects on Devpost to participate in the demo day, which was Day 3.

Day 3 was Demo Day, but teams could still finish their final touches before the judges arrived. With a total of 96 teams, there was surely a lot of work for the judges. Eventually, eight finalists (four technical and four non-technical) were selected to present on stage before the finalist judges: Davis Sacks — founder and partner at Craft Ventures, founder of Yammer, founding COO of PayPal, Irena Cronin — CEO at Infinite Retina, Jeremiah Owyang — startup investor, LP, and advisor, Amjad Masad — CEO at Replit, Mckay Wrigley — founder of Codewand, and C.C. Gong — founder ofStealth AI Startup. The teams were competing for the $10k prize. There were also prizes for runner-up teams and awards for the most creative and innovative use of promptings, the best solo founder, the do good award.

Davis Sacks, Irena Cronin, Amjad Masad.

6. The winners

The competition was divided into two tracks — Technical and Non-Technical. Participants in the Technical track were tasked with developing AI-based solutions to complex challenges with at least 80% of actual coding, while those in the Non-Technical track were asked to come up with innovative ideas using no or low-code solutions.

Despite the difficulty of the competition, the participants produced some amazing solutions in just two days. In the Non-Technical track, a team led by a “nontechnical” PM used Replit + AI to build DocuTok, a platform that allows users to upload boring documents and give them personality with animated GIFs, fun language, and text-to-speech. What’s more, this team’s solution was deemed “more technically impressive than teams of engineers!” by Amjad, the founder of Replit.

The winning project in the Technical track was WhatMail. This platform allows users to take a picture of any document and chat with it in any language. WhatMail was built in just two days using the latest AI-powered technology and is available for everyone to try: https://whatmail-app.vercel.app/

The event ended with a Happy Hour at the Craft Ventures office, where hackers, organizers, and industry experts networked and discussed their biggest takeaways from the event.

The hackathon’s success was due to the seamless collaboration and lots of work behind the scenes between Craft Ventures, Miami Hack Week, and The Chain Miami teams. The teams took care of every detail possible, from the agenda, catering, and communication to the location and fun activities, ensuring that hackers had comfort and convenience while participating.

The bar has been set high for future hackathons in the Bay Area by Craft Ventures’ commitment to excellence. Such events are an essential part of the emerging technology scene, and we can’t wait to see many more such events in the future!

P.S. By the way, was this piece AI generated? 😀

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Anna Gandrabura

Educator and Entrepreneur. I help teams understand each other across cultures. Ambassador at english4it.online