DevelopHer 2015: 24 hours, 11 finalists & 1 winning hack

September 1, 2015

This weekend, LinkedIn hosted the annual DevelopHer hackday, an event that aims to foster a stronger sense of community among women in engineering and other technical roles. More than 90 participants from high school novices, to senior engineers and designers, to successful entrepreneurs came together in our offices for 24 hours of creativity, coding, and building.

Attendees arrived promptly for the 5:00 pm start, and set to the task of finding teams. Within an hour, some 25 teams set forth to build hacks that empower women. During dinner, the technologists also had an opportunity to meet several partner organizations dedicated to furthering women in technology - Girl Scouts of Northern California, Technovation Challenge,

I had the honor of emceeing the event, where I got to welcome the participants to DevelopHer. DevelopHer is a fantastic reminder of the smart and inspiring women of all backgrounds that make the coding community so great. Looking across the room at any hour of the night, you could see ideas springing to life and new friendships being formed. When at 11:00 pm one participant shouted “we have a working backend!” not only did her team applaud, but so did everyone within earshot.

photo by Tony Chung

At midnight, many participants paused for a short yoga session to stretch out after the first seven hours, and then enjoyed a milk and cookies snack break before returning back to their projects. By 4:00 am, some hackers caught a little shut-eye, but many stayed up through the night to ensure their creations came to life. Those that did fall asleep were woken by the smell of Nutella French toast and fresh quiche for breakfast, which signaled the final stretch of hacking.

Hacks were due at 1:00 pm and submitted for preliminary judging on their technical wizardry, impact and innovation, user experience, and the overall presentation and polish. Eleven hacks were selected for the final round, where the teams presented their work to our judges:
Jeff Weiner, CEO, LinkedIn
Tracy Chou, Software Engineer, Pinterest
Anar Simpson, Special Advisor, Women, Girls and Technology, Mozilla
Lauren Goode, Senior Editor, The Verge

photo by Tony Chung

Some of the notable themes of the hacks included women’s safety, mentorship, battling gender bias, and promoting inclusion. The winning teams were:

First place: SpeakIn, by Amy Nguyen, Danielle Kain, and Maesen Churchill

photo by Tony Chung
This mobile app encourages women to speak up in meetings by sending alerts when the woman’s voice hasn’t been heard in a certain amount of time. SpeakIn also shows speaking notes, and statistics on how many times and how long a woman was able to speak in a session. Our winners each scored a stainless steel Apple watch and custom LinkedIn profile photography session.

Second place: Fiddle, by Rachelle Felzien, Priya Kuber, and Laura Moreno

photo by Tony Chung
Fiddle is a wearable technology that the team calls “Smart Spanx.” It is a tank top that provides accurate body measurements; use cases include custom tailoring, weight-loss tracking, and pregnancy monitoring. Our winners each took home a silver aluminum Apple watch.

Third place: LinkedX, by Aronima Dass, Elaine Ou, TingTing Xu, and Wenjie Wu

photo by Tony Chung
This tool aims to bridge the gap during salary negotiations with the slogan, “Are you getting paid enough?” LinkedX evaluates key words, experience, and academics information in your LinkedIn profile and compares to Glassdoor salary information to show you industry averages, plus comparable profiles and suggested jobs. Our winners each took home a $100 Apple gift card.

DevelopHer is an important opportunity for women of all ages to showcase their brilliant ideas that are changing the face of technology and entrepreneurship. This event is special for LinkedIn, and I could tell what it means to our technical community as over 40 volunteers--women and men--dedicated their Friday and Saturday to making this happen. See you next year!