More than a hackathon: Garage48 unites startup communities

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The Garage48 organization is using its 7 years of experience to break down borders between startup communities. Through implementing their methodology and facilitating international participation to hackathons, they've been laying the foundation for cross-border co-operation.

The Estonian-based Garage48 is known for their hackathons - weekend-long events that gathers people to build products within 48 hours. However having amassed 7 years of experience, the organization in true startup spirit, is ready to spread their knowledge to in-turn strengthen other local hackathons and facilitate international co-operation.

Garage48 has been working with Latvian partners for years, and this weekend, the Latvian hackathon “Startup Slalom” will be held in Riga in cooperation with Garage48. While Startup Slalom will be in charge of the organizational details, Garage48 will be coming with their own host, moderator, and also some mentors. They'll be providing the methodology that has proven itself to be successful over Garage48's 7 years of existence. This hackathon's theme will be the “sharing economy”, and the organizers expect to see some great examples for peer-to-peer car sharing, food sharing, and more, as the Baltic region already boasts some great examples, such as Taxify and Twino.

In an interview with Garage48 representative Kai Isand, she emphasized that the Baltic states are at roughly the same level of technological development, and that “now it's time for all three Baltic countries to open up and work together”.

Garage48 has organized events in 18 countries. In addition to sharing their methodology internationally, they also emphasize the need for participants of neighbouring countries to attend. This, they believe, is key to opening up the door for future co-operation, knowledge sharing, and generally faster development and growth of good ideas, products, and economies.

The success of Garage48 hackathons lies in pushing participants out of their comfort zones, networking, and learning new things. As a result, several ideas that have been born at Garage48 hackathons have had successful exits. Masquerade, a video filter app that was first created in a Garage48 event in Belarus, was sold to Facebook. The Estonian weather prediction app, Vital Fields, was sold in 2016. At first it was intended for surfers, but later pivoted to farmers.

Garage48 emphasizes that they don't aim to be a startup factory, but rather a place to network, learn and work together.