The weekend was shaping up to be a disaster…a natural disaster. Hurricane Joaquin started its northward slog towards the eastern seaboard, with the state’s first Internet of Things hackathon beginning in 24 hours. By Friday morning, the storm shifted further east, sparing central NC from the high winds. The RIoT Hackathon got the green light. 

Despite the downpour, 80 IoT hackers and mentors arrived at NC State’s Centennial Campus Friday evening. The night begin with a quick introduction by the NC RIoT team. A dozen attendees pitched their ideas to the audience in the Monteith Research Center auditorium. After the pitches, everyone congregated on the ASSIST Center’s 4th floor event space to enjoy dinner and self-select their teams. 
The RIoT Hackathon blended the best elements of a traditional hackathon—bang away on hardware or code for a weekend with just your idea—with a traditional startup weekend where attendees pitch ideas, form a team and mock up software. Build not only a great product, but something with the potential to become a great company. 
Drawing inspiration from the RIoT community, member companies Bright Wolf and Device Solutions removed the technical complexity from the event. Device Solutions provided 10 Cellio hardware kits along with dozens of sensors. Bright Wolf opened up its software and analytics platform, directly integrating the hardware and software ahead of the hackathon. Enabling plug and play setup spared teams the most challenging and technical parts, allowing them to instantly build prototypes and suss out the business model, a critical judging criteria. 
Impressed with the talent, not only will Groundwork Labs accept the winner into the accelerator, but all of the honorable mentions as well. In fact, every team that pitched can meet with John Austin, director of the Durham accelerator. 
The event wouldn’t have been possible without the combined efforts of Reid Powell, Taylor Howard, Christian Stump and Anastasia Lalamentik, all from Bright Wolf. 
During the months leading up to the hackathon, the entire planning team believed we would see great ideas come from the Hackathon, but were still uncertain exactly what would transpire. Based upon the teams formed, the effort they put forth and the prototypes built, the event was a resounding success. 
Only time will tell if great companies emerge out of the previous and future IoT Hackathons. With the support of Groundwork Labs and the NC RIoT ecosystem, we are confident that we’ll look back and see great companies. One thing we can be certain of: the engineering talent in our state, and our ability to innovate in IoT, is second to none.