VanHacks: A hackathon for social good

VanHacks: a hackathon for social good
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Developers and designers have the skills to create powerful apps, innovative software and impeccable user experiences.  What if they were given the opportunity to use their skills for social good?
Two Tall Totems is proud to be hosting VanHacks 2018 alongside ViDIA and Vancouver Startup Week from September 21-23, 2018.

VanHacks is a hackathon where designers and developers come together to create solutions that help non-profit organizations (NPO’s). 200 participants spend 28 hours working in teams of 3-5 to build software and applications that will bring value to the Vancouver Community. Problems and technical gaps are predefined by the NPO’s, so that the solutions created can be tailored to each organization. Our biggest goal is to make sure that the NPO’s walk away with real solutions to the problems their facing.
VanHacks seeks to leverage the power and creativity of young minds and apply them towards creating impactful technology. It’s a hackathon with heart, and there are plenty of reasons to participate.

Be part of an inspiring community

VanHacks is presented by Two Tall Totems in partnership with Vancouver Startup Week and ViDIA. They’re two organisations dedicated to cultivating a vibrant community right here in Vancouver.

Vancouver Startup Week is a week-long celebration connecting entrepreneurs, investors, leaders and friends to support the startup community. VSW ensures that the city is buzzing with events and networking receptions hosted by some of the biggest names in the startup scene. Last year, VSW brought together over 3,000 people to more than 70 different events run by dozens of amazing community partners.

ViDIA, Vancouver iDevelopers Industry Association, is a group of Apple enthusiasts comprised of software developers, business people and designers. Their goal is to encourage intermingling between experts and people new to iOS development and design, in the hopes of bringing about exciting and fresh ideas.

Provide meaningful tech solutions

Why Non-Profits?

Many non-profit organizations lack the technology that for-profits groups have to keep a business running smoothly. The challenges they face are usually specific to each organization as their goals vary significantly. Typically these groups will require technology/software to help sort out donations, onboarding, inventory management, matchmaking etc. This year we’re thrilled to be serving five incredible organizations all on a mission to create lasting change.

Ocean Wise

Oceanwise logoOcean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. Ocean Wise works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers ensuring that they have the most current scientific information regarding seafood and helping them make ocean-friendly buying decisions.

Weekend Fuelbag

weekend fuelbag logoThere is a direct link between malnourishment, poor health and improper education. Weekend Fuelbag strives to tackle all three issues by eliminating the first. They give students in need access to food on weekends so they can come to school ready to learn.

Working Gear

Working Gear assists low-income men around the city looking to re-enter the workforce by providing them with work appropriate clothing, from construction-wear and steel-toed boots to casual attire and suits.


BabyGoRound supports families living in poverty, single parents, refugees, and mothers living in homeless shelters by giving them access to essential supplies. Their volunteers have one-on-one appointments with families to select the items they need. They anticipate assisting close to 900 families per year.


Mealshare logoWith a mission to end youth hunger in our lifetime, Mealshare partners with local restaurants to donate meals to those in need. For every mealshare item a diner orders from a partnering restaurant, Mealshare provides one meal to a youth in need. To date, they have served 2,077,483 meals and counting.

Collaborate with fellow innovators

For the purpose of being inclusive and having a level playing field, VanHacks 2018 will feature two categories of hackers; professional/corporate teams and independent groups.

Everyone is invited to the the Team Formation Social at Devhub on Friday, September 21st. This evening event is the perfect opportunity for those who have not yet formed a team to find their hackathon soulmates. It’s also a great chance to network and get to know like minded people in the industry. Whether you already have a team or are looking for a fresh squad, come enjoy snacks and refreshments while getting into the spirit of hacking.

Let your hacking skills shine

On Saturday September 22nd, teams will head to BCIT downtown for the opening ceremony and Q&A session. Participants will be informed of the challenges for the hackathon, available APIs to work with, what kind of applications they are expected to realize, sponsors, judges, judging criteria, mentors, rules and any other information. Teams will then pick the non-profit they want to dedicate their weekend to. After that, the hacking begins.  

Mentors will be present to guide and advise participants on any difficulties they have when designing or building their applications. VanHacks will also be providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for all participants, to fuel their innovation.

At the end of the 28 hours, teams are expected to have a working application that can be demoed in front of the judges. Projects will be judged on how well the application solves the chosen problem and how well the solution works at demo time. Extra points are given to those who agree to open source their project after the hackathon. This is done in the spirit of “Acting Local and Thinking Global”. The idea is that a local organization such as the Vancouver Food Bank may have similar challenges as the Calgary Food Bank and so on. By open sourcing the projects we extend the usefulness of the code to the rest of the world.

Make a lasting impact

What’s special about this event is that the impact of the hackathon could be truly life-changing. In the past, VanHacks participants created iOS and Android solutions for the Ending Violence Association of BC. The distinguishing feature of the app was an alarm button embedded into the Today Menu that was triggered by hitting the phone against your leg three times. It was not only expertly designed, it provided a life-changing solution for people in abusive situations.

Want to make the same kind of impact?

VanHacks Registration is open until 11:59PM on September 20th 2018. Tickets are $35 each until September 7 2018, after which tickets will cost $50.

Interested in lending your expertise? Apply to be a mentor at There are also sponsorship opportunities available for businesses looking to support their community. Use your skills to make a tangible difference. For more information about Vanhacks, check out or reach out to with any questions.