Betaworks Ventures' virtual hackathon aimed at catalyzing startup activity around Fixing The Internet

 

Why Betahack?

Betaworks has long been fascinated with the way humans create, communicate, and share ideas. Since the early days of the social web, we have built and invested in companies creating the means to facilitate our self-expression. However, along the way, many of the tools we rely on to bring us closer have been weaponized to push us further apart, and run rampant with misinformation aimed at unraveling our society, or have harvested our attention and our data to turn us into the products they sell.

This is when the builders get to work, and the next generation of world-changing start-ups emerge. It starts with a question, a problem to solve, a new way of looking at the world, a denial of conventional wisdom, a desire to build better. It starts with you.

In conjunction with Betalab, Betaworks Ventures’ early stage investment program and accelerator for companies in the space, we’re putting on a virtual hackathon called Betahack. This week-long virtual hackathon is aimed at inspiring new ideas to combat the negative consequences of today’s big tech, or offer new, improved ways to connect, communicate and share.

Fix The Internet is a massive umbrella that will take lots of new ideas. Here are a few of the areas that we have been thinking about. Use this as a starting point, but don’t let it constrain your creativity! All participants, especially women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ are highly encouraged to bring your unique POV and solve problems you have encountered in your life online.

 

Spaces we’re excited about:

  1. New capitalism: Can we redefine existing company-customer relationships to align financial incentives and encourage better behaviors. In other words, if you aren’t selling your user’s data or attention, can you create a new business model?
  2. Online identity and space: Social games like Animal Crossing and Online Town have allowed us to cohabit space online, express identity, interact in new ways. How do we keep these spaces safe?
  3. Ownership: New ways to take ownership of yourself creations, data, and identity online.
  4. Communication: Are there new ways to discuss topics and information online that mirrors the benefit of in-person conversation?
  5. Synthetic Media: How do you use deep fakes, auto-encoders, and GANs to foster a better media ecosystem, empower creators, and protect authenticity.
  6. Ethical AI: Can we build products with explainable, responsible and transparent AI?
  7. Human-centric design: Let’s design products that benefit our lives, enable us to interact with technology in a healthier way, and build value for us, not solely the corporations with the most data.

 

Our goal:

To showcase innovative entrepreneurial talent working within this space. To help surface some of the projects and ideas tackling the toughest problems faced by the internet. To create new connections between friends and other builders in the space. Lastly, to connect our community of builders, creatives, and investors at Betaworks to the best minds in the space.

 

Events:

With Great Power Comes... No Responsibility?

Who bears responsibility for the real-world consequences of technology? This question has been unduly complicated for decades by the 1996 legislation that provides immunity from liability to platforms that host third-party content: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. In the wake of the recent congressional “Big Tech Hearing”, understanding how and if the government should regulate “big tech” is on the minds of many.

Join us for a conversation with Yaël Eisenstat, Peter Romer-Friedman and Carrie Goldberg. The group will discuss the current state of play in the debates around who should govern online speech, other questions around the governance of big tech and will be taking your questions.

"Fixing the internet" with Nathan Kinch

"Fixing the internet" has become a popular topic. But what does it actually mean? What specifically is broken? How did it break and why? What should we now do, when, with whom and how?‍ These are confronting and difficult questions. So rather than diving down a potentially unproductive rabbit hole, this event will focus on specific actions startup founders and teams can take to begin designing a more socially preferable future.

Product Round-Up with Matt Hartman

Hosted by Matt Hartman, Product Round-Up is a livestream conversation about tech products that have launched this week. Previous guests include Josh Elman (Greylock, Product @ Twitter, Facebook) Jeffrey Morris Jr. (Product @ Tinder) Sarah Adler (EIR @ NYT, Founder @ Spoon acq by Food Network) Bianca StLouis (Fmr Pinterest, A16Z) Greg Isenberg (Product @ Islands, WeWork, TikTok) Jordan Crook (Managing Editor @ Techcrunch) Edwin Akrong (Product @ NBA, Startup School).

Mentor Feedback Sessions

Have a one-on-one discussion with an industry or betaworks team member on your product, gather feedback, or get product questions answered. 

Demos with Industry Experts

Join for a live stream session where participants get to show off their products in front of others and solicit feedback from judges and mentors.

View full rules

Prizes

$500,000 in prizes

1st Place / Overall

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Pitch Betaworks: Meet the Betaworks team and pitch them your project formally and get feedback!
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

2nd Place / Overall

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Pitch Betaworks: Meet the Betaworks team and pitch them your project formally and get feedback!
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

3rd Place / Overall

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Pitch Betaworks: Meet the Betaworks team and pitch them your project formally and get feedback!
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Theme / Best "New Capitalism" Project

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Theme / Best "Ethical AI" Project

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Theme / Best "Human Centric Design" Project

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Theme / Best "Data Ownership" Project

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Betahack t-shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Theme / Best "Communication" Project

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Theme / Best "Synthetic Media" Project

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Theme - Best "Online Identity & Space" Project

- $50,000 in Segment credits.
- Betahack T-Shirt.
- Project featured in post-event recap.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

Eligibility

Eligibility

  • Participants: at least 18 years of age.
  • Teams: 1 - 4 people.
  • Countries: All countries are allowed to participate.
  • University students are encouraged to participate!

Requirements

We're looking for...

Prototype web apps, mobile apps, or AI models built across categories such as identity and ownership of data online, new monetization methods for the web, ethical AI, and privacy first tech.

Submission should include:

  • A link to a public GitHub repository
    • Please list all open-source code, SDKs or APIs used.
    • Answer the questions on the submission form about your idea, your implementation, and the potential impact.
  • A short video demonstration of your prototype.
    • Please only 1 minute long.
    • With audio or video narration.
  • Answer all submission questions

Judges

Fahim Abouelfadl

Fahim Abouelfadl
PM, Betaworks

Soren Wrenn

Soren Wrenn
Associate, Betaworks

Judging Criteria

  • User experience
    How well thought through is your product.
  • Problem validation
    How well did you articulate your users' problem and how the solution fits their needs.
  • Impact
    What is the projected overall impact of your solution or product?
  • Unique approach
    How unique or differentiated is your approach to the problem?
  • Unique Insight
    How substanative is the insight that led you to your solution?

themes

  • Machine Learning/ AI
  • Social Good
  • COVID-19