Marlborough’s First-Ever Hackathon

Marlborough’s First-Ever Hackathon

This year, Marlborough is excited to launch the new Frank & Eileen Accelerator Program for the Leaders of Tomorrow. Open to girls and gender expansive youth across Los Angeles, this new entrepreneurship program provides students with the opportunity to receive funding, education, and mentorship to help launch and grow their businesses.

On Saturday, September 24, Marlborough hosted a full day entrepreneurial hackathon to help build excitement for the Accelerator Program. This inaugural Hackathon took students through the entire design process–from problem identification to pitching proposed solutions. Audrey McLoghlin, founder of Frank & Eileen, joined us for the day and eagerly supported the students as they brought their ideas to life.

Groups of students took on the topics of fashion, social justice, food and beverage, environment and climate change, and health and wellness. The first step for each team was to identify a problem within their topic area. Through brainstorming activities and feedback from their peers and the adult entrepreneurs, each team constructed a thoughtful problem statement from which to begin creatively problem solving and working through proposed solutions. The Health and Wellness Team’s problem statement read: “Getting vaccinated requires an 18-45 year old Black man to find a place to get vaccinated, make sure he can afford it, and understand the information surrounding vaccines.”

After the teams developed a thorough understanding of their problem, they went through two rounds of ideating, prototyping, testing, and learning. They considered the assumptions they were making about their problem, and created prototypes that would allow them to test those assumptions. They took what they learned from those tests and directly applied it to the next round of ideating. During each round, the teams received many points of user feedback to help them develop a truly impactful solution. The Health and Wellness Team’s proposal was to implement a mobile service that provides vaccine education and administration, alliteratively named “Vans 4 Vaccines.” 

The day ended with each team pitching their solution to four judges, articulating the importance of the problem they were working on and how their solution addressed it. The group of judges was comprised of impressive entrepreneurs dedicated to fostering the next generation of innovative thinkers. The panel included Natalie Makous Cuadra ’09, Marlborough’s Associate Director of Alumnae Engagement who also holds a master’s degree in social entrepreneurship; Jess Stokes, founder of Wonder Academy; Diondraya Taylor, Marlborough’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence and founder of Mindset + Milestones; and Lisa Tsou ’90, founder of The Winning Pitch. Awards were presented to teams based on the area in which they most excelled, from needfinding to creative problem solving to pitching. The Needfinder Award was presented to Vans 4 Vaccines in recognition of the team who displayed the most empathy and care for others throughout their process.

Dr. Lee Mirsky, Engineering & Entrepreneurship Program Head and Associate Director of the Frank & Eileen Accelerator Program, reflected on the success of the Hackathon. She said, “Throughout the day, the passion, drive, and critical thinking displayed by participants was inspiring. The students’ work throughout the Hackathon illustrated that the young people of today are aware of what problems exist in the world and are more than ready to solve them.”

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