First-ever global Y4PT hackathon winners: six months later

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In the context of European Innovation Week, we thought it would be interesting to sit down with some of the most innovative young developers to have influenced the public transport sector: the winners of the first-ever Y4PT Global Public Transport Hackathon, in Montréal, Canada.

The two winning teams to share first prize in the competition were Team Ditch and Team UpWay. Team Ditch developed an educational gaming app to encourage the use of sustainable transport by showing the user all different modes of transport for a selected route and offering various points depending, for instance, on whether the user drives or takes a bus.Team UpWay developed a navigation app that includes 3D modelling and augmented reality technology, allowing users to discover surrounding restaurants, services and entertainment. Both teams have revealed that they are still working to find funding, build prototypes and gain patents for their winning ideas.

We were wondering what life has been like for some of the global hackathon winners six months later. Here’s what they shared with us.

What was the highlight of the hackathon experience & what did you learn about public transport?

Thomas Hepner Bossart: Definitely the most interesting discovery for me was to realise that every country, no matter where in the world, faces the hugely important problem of transport, and as each city is different the public transport solutions they have to make have to meet those differences.
Eloi Strée: I learned that public transport is not a simple subject and requires constant ideas, innovations, new technologies and developers.
Ignacio O’Mullony: The highlight for me was chatting with CEOs of the most important companies in the sector and explaining to them, face-to-face, what we created and hearing their opinions.
Jonathan Adiaheno: If I had to single out one thing that I learned, it’s that public transport is not just a business, it’s a service.
Kim Smulders: I loved that the hackathon was connected to the UITP Summit! It made the idea more ‘real’. When you actually get to pitch your idea to possible investors, it becomes a project.

Have you stayed in touch with your group members?

All: Yes!
O’Mullony: The Y4PT hackathon took my sleep, but it gave me friends in exchange. I met hard-working people from around the world, enjoying life and trying to make a change one day at the time.

The Y4PT hackathon took my sleep, but it gave me friends in exchange

What current projects are you working on?

Strée: I’m teaching virtual reality to companies and students.
Smulders: I’m still in my final year of high school, but I am doing small-scale research on traffic and climate.
O’Mullony: We are trying to find funding for WalkWalk, the app we presented in Manchester and gave us the chance to attend to Montréal. WalkWalk is an app to encourage people to walk by gamification.
Bossart: I’m currently working at a FinTech start-up in Chile, as a software developer.
Adiaheno: I’m working on mobile solutions at a start-up called Proxybus. Our payment solution is faster than the competition, and we provide new subscription models for commuters. Also, our most on-demand feature is our Transit Signal Priority system, keeping buses from catching red lights. It shortens the ride on all bus routes, saving time for the travellers, money in gas for the transit authority, and saving the planet at the same time!

I’m introduced to people as ‘the guy who won the Montréal hackathon’.

How did winning the first-ever Global Transport Hackathon impact your life?

Bossart: It was very important to me and the team in general because we felt that our idea was validated by a group of important people who knew a lot about transport and innovation.
Adiaheno: Winning the hackathon brought additional credit to the start-up we were building.
Strée: I am not introduced as the ‘VR [virtual reality] Belgian guy’ anymore. I’m introduced to people as ‘the guy who won the Montréal hackathon’. Good and bad situation for me actually, as my specialty is VR…
O’Mullony: I had the chance to work among a group of incredibly talented people, so I learned a lot and it helped me land my new job!
Smulders: I got to work together with the most brilliant minds and the most inspiring coaches. I had the time of my life and I’m glad that we are trying to change the world.

Don’t miss the 2nd Y4PT Global Public Transport Hackathon in Dubai, UAE—in the framework of the UITP MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition from 23-25 April 2018!

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