When you bring middle and high school students together to develop a web app to help teens start a business, anything can happen. For the 50-plus participants in the Mogul in the Making Hackathon – hosted by Get Schooled, Accenture, and Viacom on a recent June weekend – the gathering proved to be an intense competition.
The Shark Tank-style hackathon, held June 4 and 5 at the Viacom headquarters in Times Square, required students to compete in teams to develop their app ideas. Each step was tracked on a leaderboard and the seven teams took turns meeting with the board of advisors to try and move into the top spot. Inspirational coaches Top Chef Kwame Onwuachi and 12-year-old Cory Nieves of Mr. Cory’s Cookies were on hand to offer advice on being a successful entrepreneur.
“When you’re starting a business, make sure you put your heart into what you do,” Nieves, who has become a savvy business owner who has already expanded his cookie operation into a commercial space, told the teens.
On the second day, the teams prepared to pitch their ideas to the judges. They started by making 30-second commercials to practice the art of storytelling and get them thinking about how to position their app in the marketplace. The commercials were posted to Instagram and YouTube and used as part of the final presentation to the judges.