Apr 16, 2020 / Jüri Kaljundi

Happy 10th Birthday Garage48!

10 years ago today, on April 16th 2010, an egg was laid. The first Garage48 hackathon kicked off at the IT College in Tallinn. The energy was amazing. Seeing the happy participants at the end of the event made us understand: something great has happened.

What we did not know at that time was that it was only a start for a rocket ship ride that will continue for decades. Garage48 turned into a worldwide movement. Over these years we’ve done 138 hackathons in 43 cities of 25 countries. Besides that, we’ve run co-working spaces, week-long student startup camps, idea days, corporate hackathons and various custom events.

We’ve touched tens of thousands of people across the world. Happy birthday, Garage48 – you’re a big girl now! It has been fun.


Digging out our initial project plan from 2010, it clearly defined the three goals Garage48 had:
– Developing the startup culture, promoting the message
– It’s easy to create web services, everyone can do it
– To connect people, network, startups-students-doers

Like it was said then: “The goal is to get in 48 hours from an idea to a working service and show, that to create a new and exciting thing from zero does not have to be time- or resource-intensive.”


It’s all still true today. Garage48 is one of the best ways in tech to network, learn, get out of your comfort zone and find companions to start world-changing companies with. As a founder, I am amazed every month of what the current team is doing.

We wouldn’t be here without you: the participants, mentors, volunteers, our team members, supporters, investors, media, the Estonian Startup Leaders Club we grew out from, all the dogs (hi Riki!) and others. Your love and support has kept us going and developing. There are just too many to mention any names. You’re all rockstars!

Big bow and hugs – thank you all! It truly has been an international community effort to make the world more innovative and people aspire for making something great happen.


Looking into the original Skype chat archives from January 2010, what made it all work from day one was the founders team that we immediately assembled: me, Rain, Ragnar, Martin, Priit and Asko, with initial help from Tarvo. We were a startup ourselves and that mix of characters made us successful. We were also hungry to prove that instead of discussing ideas we and our participants should just f***ing do it. That worked.


The fun part I did not remember from the chats were our ambitions. Like we then wrote internally in chats: we still believe at least 30 people would be interested. So let’s aim higher: at 50 people! Even 30 was a stretch target – initially we said that if 10 of our founders show up, that’s nice too

 Little did we know then about the interest …


Having a quick look at the participant list of the first hackathon (sorry, in Estonian only) it’s nice to see that around half of the participants are still very active in the tech and startup scene. Around 20% are or have been successful startup founders and leaders. Many others have become top-level designers, developers or marketeers. Markus Villig, who then joined us as a 16-year old schoolkid is now the CEO of Bolt, one of many Estonian unicorns. The connections built then are still strong. That was our goal – to build a community, a strong network. We succeeded.


The icing on our birthday cake has been the global Hack the Crisis movement built on top of our hackathons experience and our mentors and volunteers network. The just finished Global Hack event drew over 10 thousand participants from all over the world to create hundreds of new solutions to solve the crisis. Again, the value of the network we’ve built there is what matters for people to continue making world a better place.


Upwards and onwards, Garage48! Let’s see where you’ll be in 2030. We have no idea. That’s what makes it fun. Forever, stay a startup!


P.S. Our current CEO Mari who has taken Garage48 to new heights did her re-cap already back in January, please read it here.


The original article by Garage48's Co-Founder  Jüri Kaljundi can be found here

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