A few months ago, my friend Mohamed Fakihi asked me if we would like to host AngelHack Sofia this summer. We love hackathons and the idea of talented devs building cool stuff under our roof got us very excited. Besides, AngelHack is not just a hackathon. It’s a global hack series which has reached more than 150,000+ developers, designers and entrepreneurs in the last 6 years. And so, we hurried up to invite them to Puzl CowOrKing and started the preparations for the event.

Let the hackin' begin

AngelHack Sofia took place on July 21-22 and has been an awesome experience for more than 30 young entrepreneurs, developers, and mentors. The theme of the 48-hour coding was Seamless Technology for GovTech, Cybersecurity, and Big data.

The event was quite international with people coming from India, Spain and other corners of the world to hack all weekend in Sofia. Six teams joined the race, but the winner was only… well, they were two, in fact.

Pasala won the Grand Prize and clean.ly won Code for a Cause Impact Prize. Both teams were invited to join the AngelHack accelerator and Pasala got a bunch of other perks, including a fellowship for Founder Institute Sofia and a fast-track to the Eleven Ventures investment committee.

Meet the jury

Some of the jury members at the event were Kalin Dimtchev (Country Manager of Microsoft Bulgaria), Sasha Bezuhanova (Founder and Chairman of MOVE.BG), Nikola Yanev and Belizar Marinov (Eleven Ventures), Milen Ivanov (Director at Founder Institute Sofia), Gisele Karekezi (Europe Regional Manager of Angel Hack), and many successful entrepreneurs from the regional startup ecosystem. We reached out to the Sofia AngelHack Ambassador Mohamed Fakihi to tell us more about the projects and the participants.

 Gisele Karekezi and Mohamed Fakihi

Hey Mohamed! First of all, congratulations. AngelHack was a blast and we’re very happy that it took place in Puzl CowOrKing. Tell us more about the event and the idea behind it.

Every year, AngelHack organizes Global Hackathon Series around the globe. The series is organized on six continents bridging the gap between Silicon Valley innovation and entrepreneurs all over the world.

You are the Sofia AngelHack ambassador. Why did you decide to include Sofia on the AngelHack map?

I usually organize corporate hackathons inside my companies to bring together internal and external teams to solve specific company challenges in a very short time. This year, I wanted to experiment with open innovation where the teams can define and build their own ideas around a very broad topic. AngelHack has a format that fits perfectly that purpose.

The theme this year was Seamless Technology for GovTech, Cybersecurity, and Big data. What made you focus particularly on these 3 topics?

GovTech, Cybersecurity, and Big data are topics that, in my opinion, have the greatest impact on modern society. However, they are very challenging topics with a high level of complexity and high barriers to entry. This is why this space is largely underserved by the startup ecosystem and venture funding. I wanted this hackathon to prove that with the right people and environment, a lot of today’s societal problems can be solved in a smart and cost-effective way.

Which were the most interesting projects that you saw over the weekend?

All the projects were very interesting. The winning team, Pasala, has built a powerful solution to revolutionize search in commerce. Clean.ly, the winner of the Code for a Cause prize, on the other hand, has built a very smart app that helps fight waste in natural parks thanks to big data and gamification. My personal favorite was Qub team. Despite their very young age, they have built a robust platform to solve research funds allocation problems in government and academia, with blockchain technology.

Do you believe that the ideas presented at AngelHack have the potential to become successful businesses?

Not all the ideas that were presented during AngelHack had a sound business model. Unlike startup competitions, hackathons are more about building something tangible that can solve a real problem. This doesn’t always mean that there is big enough of a market to pay for this solution. This being said, I am positive that all the teams that made it to the finish line have what it takes to build a successful business.

Team Pasala won the Grand Prize award and team clean.ly won the Code for a Cause Impact Prize. What’s next for these guys?

Thanks to our partners, the winners have a lot of opportunities to choose from now. Both Pasala and Clean.ly will be invited to join the AngelHack accelerator to transform their prototype into an MVP and pitch it in front of investors in the Silicon Valley. In addition, the Pasala team has received a fellowship to join Founder Institute and an invitation for a fast-track to Eleven Venture’s investment committee. Knowing that Milen and Ivan from Pasala have already been admitted to Ivy League universities, they will have to do a lot of thinking with so many choices in front of them.

And the last one from me: Why did you choose Puzl CowOrKing for the event and when can we expect the next Angel Hack edition?

Puzl CowOrKing was an obvious choice because of your active involvement in the local ecosystem and their amazing team who helped us a lot in making AngelHack a success. AngelHack global series will be coming back to Sofia next summer. In the meantime, I am already planning to organize other thematic hackathons in the coming months. Stay tuned.

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Congrats to the winners and thanks for the great summer vibes, AngelHack team. Looking forward to the next hack challenge!

In the meantime, if you don't want to miss our upcoming tech events, follow us on Facebook or check our Events page from time to time. We'll be releasing a no-spam newsletter for the next events season, so we'll keep you posted.

Enjoy your summer,
Miss Voice