New potential MSQRDs pitched @ Garage48 Visual Hackathon in Minsk

How to build an app that reaches 1 million users in less than two months and gets acquired by Facebook just 4 months after it’s creation? This is a story of the fun face filter app MSQRD that got started in Garage48 GameHack in Minsk, back in November 2015. In order to get a hang of new trends – Garage48, Facebook, AR Squad and SPACE teamed up for the Visual Hackathon in order to bring together visual, tech and business masterminds!

Hackathons in Belarus are truly grande: Friday night brought together over 130 participants  27 ideas out of which 15 strong teams continued on developing their ideas into the prototypes. The formation of the teams was not for the faint of heart, our host Joao Rei had to do some serious negotiating and matchmaking to finally confirm the very best 15 teams who could continue with the 48 hour of hard work! 

When taking part in a Hackathon, it's important to think your ideas all the way through; what's its purpose? What are your goals for the hack? “Most ideas worth pursuing are not easy to execute, so it's important to stay the course, and not take shortcuts or expect easy wins. Teamwork is a big part of any successful hack, so make sure you build trust with your teammates, and work together to problem-solve as you go. Remember, their success is your success,” advised Matt Hanson, Art Director @ Messenger.
Although going through the checkpoints, developing their ideas and keeping up the good teamwork spirit was definitely not an easy job, but thankfully all 15 teams made it to Sunday evening finals. “As with any hackathon, there is always an uncertainty around how many ideas will actually make it to the finish line, I'm quite impressed with the way our mentors worked with the participants to provide enough guidance and insight to get so many concepts to the point where they were presentable,” said Matt Hanson.

“Accepting the mentorship, I had no idea what to expect as the topic felt quite broad and that can be intimidating for any designer who’s ever worked with design briefs. However I was happy to acknowledge that on the contrary, this enabled for many great pitches and every single participant to work on something intriguing just for them!" explained Andreas Roosson, Designer @ Hmmm Creative Studio. He added that  he also found himself impressed with the fact that participants had the skill-set to work on all these projects. "We had visual storytelling, motion detection, graphic content creation, AR tools, VR games and more. There were a number of problems being solved that had probably never been tackled in a visual way. User experiences do not always need to be graphical yet they can still be visual. I think that’s a major key point for the future of design."

The hardest decisions were made by our jury members, who had to pick the best from the best on Sunday evening: Matt Hanson - Art Director @ Messenger; Eugene Nevgen - PM @ Messenger, CEO & Co-Founder of MSQRD; Dzmitry Doryn - AR Squad, design mentor; Alexander Chekan - Haxus, IT entrepreneur, business mentor; Yury Kartynnik - AI Matter; computer vision, ML, neuronetworks; Dmitry Koltsov - VOIR Inc (CEO), business development, marketing, AI, AR; Andreas Roosson - graphic designer and Valeriy Ostrinskiy - Belarus Business Angels Association.

Here are the results!

WINNER - 2500 dollars, prize by Facebook
AdsVideo, whose service automatically collects data from your online store and creates professional quality video ads.
Alexey Kruchkov, Dmitry Ovod-Marchuk, Evgeny Valuev, Ekaterina Usik, Dmitry Levkovets, Nikita Yevsey

1st RUNNER UP - 1500 dollars prize by Facebook
Formo.One - realistic mockup generator: rendering designs on complex surfaces.
Anton, Designer/Backend dev; Olga, Frontend dev; Laurynas, Marketing/PM; Konstantin, PM; Anastasiya, PM/QA

FAVORITE OF THE AUDIENCE
YellowBlueBus - translate your feelings using video reels as an universal language.
Lesha - PO, Alla - Designer, Aljona - Designer, Alesya - Designer, Victor - Integrator, Chris - Developer, Kseniya - Developer

BEST PITCHER
Laurynas Pranckus - Formo.One

This time, jury decided to give out a bunch of special prizes - Facebook, Instagram and AR Squad swag + some extra goodies for the hard-working teams and inspiring ideas.

THE MOST HARD-WORKING TEAM (and the one who probably needs the most rest after the hack)
Soft24 - app for reading, training and carrying about eyes (pages are swiping by blinking).
Sasinovich Vadim - developer; Valuyeva Maryianna - designer

HANZO  - Let customers try your glasses in AR.
Ivan Senkevich / Computer graphic artist. Dmitri Kovalev / Computer graphic artist. Alexandr Shmakov / Computer graphic artist. Rostislav Nikishin / Development

ARREAL - app that makes it possible to see with the help of AR how your Instagram photos will look printed on various objects, and instantly order the printing.
Viktar, PM; Alexander, iOS dev; Sergey, designer; Artem, python dev.

Floor Is Lava - AR game POC that brings old challenges to a new level of fun an immersion.
Alexey (PM, Idea owner), Andrew (Unity Dev), Ilya (Unity Dev), Lily (Level designer), Roman (Web-desinger), Katerina (Video Visual), "Flop' (help on demand)

VUDU - Make people look older/younger in video on device.
Taras Boiko, ML + iOS; Andrew Makar, ML; Vitaliy Hamuha , BizDev

FaceMusic - Make any type of music with your face emotions and AI Body Fitness Trainer - The app, that can replace a personal fitness trainer. This application will find a person in the frame, determine what the person is doing and count the number of exercises and indicate errors, on mobile device in real time.
FaceMusic: Product owner/product designer/drums Danial, iOS developer/guitar Andrew, sounddesigner/dawdling Egor, project manager/percussion Alex, marketer/vocal Ola, graphic designer/back vocal Marina
AI Body Fitness Trainer: Nikolay Voronkovich - PM, Vladislav Artemyev - DL Developer, Dmitry Fedorov - CV Developer, Artiom Polzunov - Product Marketing manager, Dmitry Panchenko- Synesis Mentor, Victoria Konyushenko- Marketer, Olga Noskovich - UI\UX Designer, Olga Kundzelskaya - Graphic Designer, Yura Vasiliuk - DL Developer

Huge applause to the rest of our teams:
Forget-Me-Nots - a visual novel for PC. It is an existential adventure through the darkness and inner fears.
Team: Halina, PM, Game designer, Elena, artist, Darya, artist, Natally, artist, Olga, artist, Alina, artist, Gleb, developer
LMND - More lemonade - more fun/ a mobile game where you can throw lemonade at your friend.
Team: Alexander (team lead), Alexander (UI), Elizaveta (UI), Igor (game designer), Alexey (unity developer), Julia (translator)
AR Graffiti - Place graffiti in real life with friends. Fight with other teams in graffiti war.
Team: Denis Prokazov - Develop, Denis Sychyov - Developer, Paul Hostev - Developer, Olga Holodovich - Manager, Dmitry Dudko - Designer, Paliushik Alexey - Marketer, Eugene Boltenko - Developer, Anna Werigo - Designer.
Cube Team - Your future depends on young decisions. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of galyucinogenic chaos and try to find answers that guarantee freedom.
Team: Vadzim- Unity/Unreal developer; Lisa, Vika - 2d Artist; Denis - 3d artist; Artur - game designer
Geomaps - Web-site for freelancers and their families helping them to take a decision on where to move for living considering preferences of each member of the family.
Team: Yury - project manager; Igor - frontend developer; Diana - marketer / data analyst; Liuda - graphic designer; Timofei - fronted developer; Anton - product manager; Alexey - product manager

“I really enjoyed our Visual Hackathon! It was so inspiring to see such a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets blend together so quickly. The sense of community that was developed during this time is a huge credit to Garage48 and the mentors selected to participate in this event. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in an event that is fostering such great creativity and innovation,” said Hanson.

We would like to give a huge shoutout to anyone who was involved in the hackathon either as a participant or an organizer. And of course, THE mentors:
Matt Hanson, Eugene Nevgen, Dmitry Kurilo, Dzmitry Doryn, Alexander Chekan, Andrew Yanchurevich, Yury Kartynnik, Dmitry Koltsov, Eva-Maria Kangro, Peeter Nieler, Andreas Roosson, Christer Loob, Roman Gromov, Andrei Nikiforov, Ilia Kazantsev, Misha Sokolov and Dzianis Pirshtuk.

“This is what we mean by community building in Garage48 – to get this network of people together, make life-long connections and create new products and services. Nothing introduces you to a person and verifies his or her qualities creating trust more than working on the same problem for 48h. It definitely beats switching business cards or having a couple of beers on a random mixer!” said our host Joao Rei after having a round applause to all of the talented and inspiring mentors and participants.

And guys, don't give up if you didn't get a prize this time! Keep on developing what you started and keep on going to hackathons and similar events! You all are winners for surviving the weekend and by making tons of new friends and contacts!
Thank you everyone once again and see you soon here and there!