Jul 15, 2019 / linn

Classic Garage48 semi-annual report

Starting the year by falling asleep under the Egyptian stars and climbing your way up to Mount Catherine to welcome the sun definitely indicates that 2019 is going to be something different. The boost we got from Sinai's sea, sun and sand (not to mention the countless hours of team building, meeting new people and discovering fascinating places) made it possible for these six months to really shift the boundaries on how and where to organize startup events.
Life in Garage48 is not like a peaceful meditative hike, rather than an adventurous ride on a train. And this is literally something we went for this April - Hack-a-Train en route Mariupol-Kiev-Lviv in Ukraine. Even though the mentors, crew and organizers had sat down together on several occasions to discuss how it all would work best on a moving train, the reality was a whole another story.
Our host Kai Isand shouting her lungs out on a loud train

We learnt that the trains are loud as F, the space is tight and there really is no internet. “This "hack-a-train" has certainly been a unique experience, and one that has generated memories to last a lifetime. 28h on a train from Mariupol to Lviv, we criss-crossed Ukraine, saw the most incredible sunset views, and worked with the teams in a confined space. Oh, and did I mention trains?! Incredibly rewarding experience,” our host and friend Joao Rei clearly speaks for everyone on this journey.
“This project supports the priority areas that the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) supports, which are education, entrepreneurship, support to female entrepreneurship in particular and assistance for the people that have been internally displaced by the war in Ukraine,” added Anastasiia Mykhailova, project coordinator at Estonian Embassy in Kiev.

This was an amazing hackathon, we could even say that a historical moment and such an adventure. Thank you MFA for being crazy enough for backing us up with Hack-A-Train and for being the main supporter behind our activities in Ukraine already for 6+ years.
Participants and mentors in Mariupol

Hacking on a train without internet is not the only “out of the box” approach we've taken on board this year. After sitting down with Estonian finest tech companies and spreading the word amongst different partners abroad, we decided to re-invent Africa and hack one of the smallest countries on the mainland - Rwanda. It's been five years since Garage48 set it's foot in the continent and even though much has changed ever since, the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial mindset of people is still there. We saw brilliant teams working on cyber security topics, mental health issues, environmental ideas such as cleaning the water and measuring and improving the air quality - all of the ideas and executions coming from the bottom of the hearts and carrying a valuable meaning to all of us.
Much so, our little Garage48 mzungu team extended the stay and went to discover the charm of Africa's nature on it's own by waking up with the hyenas in Akagera National Park and our design mentor/photographer Maido Parv seeing lions in every sandbar there was. There weren't any lions tho… But for sure, there were many inspiring encounters, lots of good coffee and remarkable memories we took with us back to North.

Hippos, zebras and a giraffe - no lions! Photos by Maido Parv 

To double the amount of “undiscovered areas” and hoping to encounter new living species, we also had our very first hackathon in Barcelona, Spain. Single Digital Gateway hackathon on database was the fourth event in the series of hacking the Single Market initiated by the European Commission. As the second edition on taxation in Tallinn was won by our very own Palo Alto guys, the one in Barcelona was nailed by a team of non-Europeans. This clearly shows that national borders won't hold back the go-getters and if you are passionate about something, success will follow.
Hacking the Single Market in Barcelona with the European Commission

But you don't always have to travel miles for brilliant ideas, inspiring partners and participants who will blow your mind. Yes, we are referring to Digiriigi häkaton 2.0 taking place in collaboration with the Ministry of Economics Affairs and Communication here in Tallinn. How often can you solve issues that are important for the whole nation and beyond? Like our quest of honor, The President of the Republic of Estonia, Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid said “I’m quite sure that when historians, in 1000 year, look back and make some research, they will discover that the digital human was born and created in Estonia. And we should be proud of that.” We sure are! “The challenges solved and the topics covered are really something that touches us all. Thank you, Estonia, for this opportunity!” concluded our co-founder and host Priit Salumaa.
Garage48 crew with the guest of honor, President Kersti Kaljulaid

In addition, while ⅔ of Garage48 team was in Africa, trying to eyewitness if giraffes really can clean their ears with their own tongue, the other part of the team was in Tallinn, putting together and through the first ever Data Visualisation Hackathon. It took us and Statistics Estonia 500 days to go from an idea to an actual event, to prepare all the data, agree upon the most burning challenges and inspire the right participants and mentors to create something valuable. Despite (or shall we say thanks to) the long and hard pre-work, the 24h hackathon was a great success. “The contribution for us and the whole nation is priceless,” valuates the outcomes Annika Bauer, Head of Data Technology Department at Statistics Estonia.
Team NetGroup celebrating yet another successful hackathon.

While bigger part of the core-team was still singing along with Lion King's soundtrack on unnamed roads, Luminor corporate roadshow through Baltics took place. With these event series Garage48, Mooncascade and Luminor advocated the mutual relationship between banks and third-parties to generate an improved customer experience, new revenue streams, a sustainable service model for underserved markets, and dynamic services. As 2019 might as well be the year of Open Banking, it is important for banks to be confident and collaborative to push for the bright future. And we are more than happy to help to form this future!
Our co-founder and host Priit Salumaa about to tattoo G48 on his arm. 

Back home, we also tried out a new format - Spacetech Bootcamp in Tartu. For five days, teams were learning about product-market fit, customer validation, prototyping, marketing, business models, funding, pitching and the legal side of entrepreneurship. Those days were filled with intensive teamwork, customer calls, mentoring rounds and hands-on lectures. “We’re glad that Garage48 SpaceTech hackathon has gone through some evolution and is now followed by the bootcamp, helping teams make it to the “real” entrepreneurship,” said the investors Vaido Mikheim, representative of ESA BIC Estonia. “Building a successful space company is a marathon. Programs like that are small winning posts that help to conquer the long distance without quitting,” he added.


Garage48 is all about people, we can't emphasize it enough. But that's not all there is - we are really into everything alive (something that comes naturally when your CEO is “Dora the Explorer”). So we are proud to present our newest project assistant from Italy - doggo without no name.

He will be our and also your solid companion for the future events, hacking all the slippers and wires he can find and bringing joy at even the most challenging hackathons. And we have quite some of those prepared for you in the upcoming months:
Base Camp Autumn edition, Cyber Security Idea Garages and full on hackathon in November, Digital Nation hackathon on an island, EdTech Idea Garages and 48 hackathon and much more (check out our homepage and Facebook for new announcements!).


Friends, fans and partners who haven't visited Garage48 hackathons or the team in our new Palo Alto home in Telliskivi Creative City yet - you now have more than one reason to stop by, crab a coffee with us and let us make all your crazy plans come into life.

Big thanks to everybody who has already been on an adventurous journey with us and are still there to participate, partner, mentor and support our “Screw it, let's do IT” attitude! We couldn't have done it without you! Namaste!

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