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Hackathon encourages gaming app ideas for the greater good

Theme of software company's event is sustainability

It may be called a Hackathon, but don’t expect the digitally savvy participants at Act-On Software this Saturday to be breaking into classified government databases or unauthorized bank accounts.

No, the “Gamify Green for Good” Hackathon — the first in what Act-On leaders hope to host on an annual basis — is based on applying computer applications and game technology to solve “real-world problems,” with a particular focus on environmental sustainability.

“It should be a very fun, intensive, one-day collaboration,” says Henry Harbury, vice president of engineering at Act-On. “We put in the theme ‘gamify green for good’ to inspire green behavior. We’re really looking forward to discovering and being inspired by the ideas (participants) bring.”

The Hackathon will take place on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:55 p.m. at Act-On headquarters, 8405 S.W. Nimbus Ave., suite E, in Beaverton. “Gamify Green for Good” aims to bring together minds and top talent in the field of software development and computer programming in the greater Portland area. Harbury says he hopes the event will challenge programmers, software developers, graphic designers and other digitally savvy — or merely curious — participants to utilize and integrate digital gaming applications from mobile phone devices and the Internet to develop problem-solving projects.

With help and advice available from some of the area’s most experienced software developers, participants can bring an existing project, or start from scratch and build something new by coding web applications alongside senior engineers. The event will begin with gourmet coffee and pastries from Portland’s Voodoo Doughnuts, followed by caffeine-fueled drinks and snacks. Local food carts will provide lunch and dinner options, while craft beer and Pabst Blue Ribbon will be on tap.

“We’ll see what people come up with,” Harbury says, noting that idea “mashups” will be encouraged on topics such as public transportation optimization and more efficient access to online information. “We (invite) ideas that are mashups — more than the sum of their parts. We’re really looking forward to discovering and being inspired by the ideas they bring.”

Teams and groups will form around specific topics.

“We’ll have maybe five teams, and the teams can pivot,” he says.

Attendees will have a chance to win multiple prizes throughout the day, including “Act-On swag,” Sprocket growlers and gift certificates for growler fills. The grand prize is a private Brewvana Brewery tour for five, and greenbacks to donate to a local charity or nonprofit of their choice. The marathon event will conclude with an awards ceremony at 11 p.m., highlighting the “Best Hacks of the Day.”

Formed more than three years ago, Act-On has grown from a modest startup to established player in the marketing automation industry, with approximately 150 employees and more than 1,000 customers.

In addition to a day of fun and innovation, Harbury hopes the Hackathon will help the still-evolving company to connect with the community.

“It’s not just Nike and Intel on the Westside of (Portland),” he says, calling Act-On a “highly successful and rapidly growing” startup. “We’ll be offering our space and venue, providing great fun, great food and great prizes. We’re going to have an exciting day with people pulling in great ideas. We’ll see what they turn into.”

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