Over the next weeks, we will be featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. They will tell us about their experiences this summer, from exploring NYC to learning new technologies. Today, we feature Chris, who experienced the best kind of culture shock when he arrived in New York for the Fellowship.


Christopher Wan 

Startup: Magnetic
Hometown: Wellington, Florida
Special Talent: Public Speaking

I grew up in South Florida, the most suburban of suburbs. Imagine pretentiously-named gated communities like Olympia and Versailles populated by paper-cutter two-storied houses. Imagine every single kid being enrolled in recreational soccer at the age of 7 or 8 as some sort of rite of passage into SoFlo life. Imagine being limited to two first date options: 1) Dinner at a large-chain restaurant like Panera, or 2) Movies. Imagine Walmarts on Walmarts on SuperWalmarts.

Yeah, it sounds boring, doesn’t it? Everything is vanilla and chocolate. Black and white.

I’ve been in New York for seven weeks now. Sure, I’m doing software engineering 8 hours a day and not really dedicating myself fully to exploration of the city, but in the short amount of time that I’ve been here, I’ve heard the distinctive blaring ambulance noise more times than I ever previously had in my 19 years of life. I’ve seen people with holes in their ears the size of potato chips. I’ve seen hair colors that span ROY G. BIV, platform shoes that make women look like they’re walking on logs, breakdancers pole dancing in the subway trains for spare change. People here walk with a quick strut, a purpose, and a sort of intimidating intensity that makes you wonder where they’re going, and more importantly, why.

Read more…


We are happy to announce that Hanne Paine of the class of 2014 hackNY Fellows has joined hackNY full-time as Program Coordinator!

As an active contributor to the hacking community, Hanne is a great fit at hackNY. While an undergraduate majoring in computer science at Stony Brook University, she revitalized her department’s defunct Computing Society as President, increasing its membership 30-fold and organizing weekly Tech Nights featuring talks with startup leaders, tours of NYC tech companies, and a Startup Career Fair. She also introduced her classmates to hackathons, organizing bus trips to hackathons around the US and Canada for students from Stony Brook and the NY area. Hanne is also the director of Unhackathon, an event designed to encourage a greater diversity of hackers, projects, learning and creativity rather than competition. She’s also currently serving as a mentor to this year’s class of hackNY Fellows.

Hanne has previously worked at NASA, Green Map Systems, Google, and Betterpath (as a hackNY Fellow). She has been passionate about tech and education since she started working at a space simulation camp as a middle-school student, where she became a senior volunteer and their first female computer programmer. When not hacking and organizing, Hanne loves thinking about linguistics, astrophysics, reading everything, and being outside. She’s always happy to recommend a good book or talk shop about telescopes, cameras, or high-tech cooking equipment. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet one of the litters of rescue kittens she fosters for the ASPCA.

In other alumNY good news, Shy Ruparel has taken on a full-time role with our friends at Major League Hacking. We thank Shy for his contributions to hackNY and are happy that he’s continuing hackNY’s mission by joining a successful NYC startup.

In addition to helping hackNY with the summer Fellows program and fall hackathon, Hanne hopes to work on improving hackNY’s diversity, to create more ways for our Fellows and alumNY to be involved with the tech community, and to reach out to younger aspiring hackers.

Welcome, Hanne!

Over the next weeks, we will be featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. They will tell us about their experiences this summer, from exploring NYC to learning new technologies. First up are Kim and Keeyon, celebrating the Fellowship’s halfway mark!


Kimberly Leon 

Startup: Birchbox
Hometown: Monterey Park, California
Special Talent: Expert sailor. Owns her own boat, which she likes to call “Lil Bit.” 

Working at Birchbox has been amazing from day one. I’m building the content api for the articles/videos/slideshows Birchbox makes and I’ll be integrating this with the website’s search results. My mentor, along with everyone else on the Tech team, is very accessible and willing to help whenever I hit a wall or have questions. The entire Tech team at Birchbox is really close and often the best part of my day is getting lunch and talking with some of the other Tech team members. Ananta (2013 fellow who interned at Birchbox and now works there full time) reached out to me early on and treated me to lunch. A few weeks later, the CTO and VP of Engineering made time out of their busy schedules to take me and the other two tech interns to lunch. Free food is truly the way to a college student’s heart.

Kim and Ananta with Toast the dog!

On Mondays and Wednesdays we have the hackNY Speakers Series from 7-9pm, and I’ve learned so much about startups (and other topics, notably data science) over the last five weeks. Coming into hackNY I knew nothing about getting a startup off the ground and over the past five weeks I’ve learned a lot about the role of VCs and what it takes to start a company from nothing. My favorite talk so far was Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed founder/CEO) being interviewed by Chris Wiggins. They poked fun at each other throughout the talk, which was really fun to watch (I also realized in the middle of the talk that Jonah’s sister is Chelsea Peretti, one of my favorite comedians. WATCH BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, IT’S A GREAT SHOW!!).

Even outside the speaker series, I spend a lot of time with the other fellows. We don’t leave Palladium most weeknights out of pure exhaustion, but usually our weekends are pretty busy. I’ve walked the High Line, pigged out at Smorgasburg, experienced the Rocky Horror Picture Show, walked/danced at the Pride Parade, and played countless games of Werewolf and Resistance with the 2015 fellows and mentors.

The first five weeks went by far too quickly, but I’m excited for what the second half of hackNY has in store!




Keeyon Ebrahimi

Startup: Clarafai
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Special Talent: Remembering quotes and songs from movies. 

When I got into hackNY, many alumNY told me that I was about to have the best summer of my life. This sounded great, but I was skeptical. The internship, speaker series, and meeting other fellows seemed cool, but not to the level of excitement every past fellow radiated.

Now after experiencing a little bit of hackNY, that excitement is starting to make sense.
I’ve fallen in love with how my hackNY class truly grills each amazing speaker we hear from. These hard questions lead to true and honest insight from speakers, which makes the talks so much better than the glorified sugar coated large auditorium presentations I am used to.

I knew I would love working for a small and exciting start up, but I thought I was only going to be able to help on the technical side. I had no idea I would also be trusted with contributing to significant business and strategic decisions. Another priceless value hackNY has made possible.

Above all is the value of having a community of like minded yet diverse fellows right outside my dorm room. If I want to work on a project, I can walk outside my door and find multiple hyper talented partners overly willing to help. If I feel like a fun ten plus player game of Resistance, I can send out a quick message and have a group of friends ready to play. We’ve had days together walking the High Line and nights together out on the town. We’ve made memories with big groups rallying at hackathons, and also with one on one conversations.

It’s impossible fully grasp the beauty of hackNY until you experience it yourself. I know I am only a little more than halfway through my hackNY experience, but I am already excited for the day where I can tell future hackNY fellows that they are about to have the best summer of their lives.

Meet the Class of 2015: This Fellowship of 34 students comes from 24 universities, spread over 4 countries and 3 continents! Our Fellows are interning at 22 New York City startups this summer and learning everything they can about New York’s tech scene. They are an impressive, diverse group, with great tech skills and strong ideas about the future of our industry. Thanks to the generosity of a diverse community of supporters, the Fellows program includes community-style housing in Union Square as well as a series of pedagogical lectures introducing the hackNY Fellows to founders, investors, journalists, technologists, and all-around leaders from the NYC startup community. They are also sharing their unique skills with the group by hosting workshops – from Android development and configuration management systems to beatboxing, bread baking and notebook organization. We are so excited the Class of 2015 is joining our community!

Announcing Demo Night 2015: An evening of demos and celebration will take place Friday, July 31st. This event commemorates the end of the summer and is a chance for the Fellows to show off the summer projects they worked on, both professionally and personally. Demo Night is open to the tech community, and registration and more information will be coming soon.


Abhi Agarwal

New York University



Abril Vela

University of Michigan



Amrit Ayalur

University of California Berkeley



Brian Chuk

New York University



Charles Lai

Cornell University



Christopher Wan

Yale University



Cristopher Bello

CUNY Kingsborough



Dan Cadden

Temple University



Emily Pakulski

Columbia University



Emily Pries

Columbia University



Faiq Raza

Rutgers University



Harrison Liddiard

University of California LA



Janita Chalam

Amherst College



Jared Wright

Drexel University



Keeyon Ebrahimi

New York University



Kevin Yeh

University of Texas at Austin



Kimberly Leon

Mass. Institute of Technology



Matt McNaughton

Williams College



Merry Mou

Mass. Institute of Technology



Michelle Chandra

New York University



Nancy Wong

University of Pennsylvania



Niko Lazaris

University of Texas at Austin



Oluwatosin Afolabi

University of Nottingham



Rafael Palefsky-Smith

Stanford University



Ren Delos Reyes

Smith College



Richard Chu

Princeton University



Rohan Mathur

University of Illinois



Ross Goodwin

New York University



Shashank Bhargava

University of California Berkeley



Shehmeer Jiwani

Georgia Institute of Technology



Shloka Kini

Columbia University



Simon Ayzman

Hunter College



Valentin Perez

Brown University



Yoni Nachmany

University of Pennsylvania


The Spring 2015 hackNY Student Hackathon has concluded and it was filled to the brim with awesome! Over 240 students came ready to hack, representing 50 universities from all over the Northeast and trekking from as far as California and Florida. Teams of students hacked overnight at Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Over 30 technical ambassadors came to help and were identified by bright red hackNY trucker hats. These volunteers and mentors are a staple at hackNY hackathons and consist of engineers from various sponsors and NYC startups.

When not busy hacking, students had the opportunity to engage in plenty of other activities. Workshops for various interesting technologies such as iOS and Arduino were filled to capacity, a Ladies Storm Hackathons meetup was well attended and fueled by homemade cupcakes, and a mini-rave party at 2am commemorating Daylight Saving Time energized the group, complete with a DJ and glow-sticks.

At the end of the 24 hours, all the students came together to show off their work, in 2-minute long rapid fire demos. There were over 50 hacks demoed, from all different genres including games, mashups, social good projects and hardware hacks. The judges noted that quality of hacks overall was incredibly high and several of the top hacks were recognized. See list of winners below!

The demoes were emceed by Ivy Schultz, Associate Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at Columbia University. The distinguished panel of judges consisted of Amy Greenwald – CS Professor/Brown UniversityNaz Erkan – Senior Data Scientist/Twitter, Noemie Elhadad – Professor/Columbia University and Bonnie Eisenman – Software Engineer/Code Academy.

hackNY prides itself on creating a welcoming hackathon environment, encouraging diversity, learning, connecting with others and building awesome things. We at Team hackNY thank all the volunteers, sponsors, judges, and most importantly hackers that have continued to make hackNY hackathons awesome since 2010. We’ll see you in the fall for our 12th student hackathon!

Relive the magic through multimedia:
Demo video stream – http://www.twitch.tv/mlh/v/3876718

List of all hacks presented can be found at http://hackny-s2015.challengepost.com/


First Place
GLaPEP8 by Adam Obeng
A Python debugger that sings errors in the voice of Portal’s GlaDOS

Second Place
(Chirp) by Adam Obeng
A tool that shortens words and phrases, replacing long words with shorter words and emojis

Third Place
Chintastic Photo Booth by Nicole Ansbacher, Bob Gardner, Omayelli Arenyeka, Julie Pan
Crazy multi-media mashup that makes your upside-down chin the star of it’s own lip-synched video

Most APIs
nlt: never leave terminal by Tim Hung and William Jagels
Access loads of APIs directly from the command line

Funniest Hack
NO-K Cupid by Calvin Chan and Kimberly Leon
Place bets against your friends’ relationships and whether or not they will last

Hardware Hack
Gym Buddy by Ray Parker, Jordan Dunne, Daniel Schlegel, Shankar Rao and Jackson Zhang
electronic wearable glove that tracks exercise, weights and repetitions. Uses Arduino, Bluetooth, MongoDB, iOS and more

Most Technically Impressive
romdom by Sam Agnew and Manuel Lopez
A Javascript NES ROM hacking framework that emulates something similar to the DOM for programmatically editing NES games in real time

8 breaker
What’s up? by Nancy Minyanou and John Doner
Tool to track mental health and communicate with support system. Draws from several different NYC startup APIs

Best Command Line
troll.sh by Josh Matthews
Funny shell pranks that discourage leaving your workstation unlocked

Additional prizes were awarded by sponsors and can be found on ChallengePost.


hackNY is thrilled to announce that Eric Wu is joining hackNY as its first Executive Director!

Eric led Yahoo’s Hack program for years before moving to New York in 2011. Since then he’s split his time between his own hackathon consulting outfit and serving as the GM of the #1 ice cream shop in NYC.

Eric actually had a helping hand in hackNY’s origin hackathon in April of 2010, as well as nearly all of our 10 hackathons since then . The Yahoo! Open Hack Day in Times Square, which Eric helped to organize and emcee in 2009, was an inspiration for first hackNY hackathon. “Many future members and friends of the hackNY community were there, myself included,” said co-founder Chris Wiggins. “Eric put together a massive event that made coding feel creative, challenging, and collaborative. It made a big impression on all of us.”

In the spring of 2010 Eric flew out to NYC to help hackNY put on their first hackathon. Since then, Eric has served on the judging panel for almost all of our 10 student hackathons.

In his own words:

I’m excited and gratified to be joining HackNY!

When I first met the hackNY crew in the spring of 2010 to help with their first hackathon, I was immediately impressed by their vision for connecting students and the New York City startup community, and it was clear that the students shared that that enthusiasm.

Even coming from tech-heavy Silicon Valley, I could see back then that the NYC tech scene was already vibrant and rapidly gaining steam. Since then, the scene has only grown in strength, with startups blossoming all over the city, attracting world-class talent. So when co-organizers Chris Wiggins and Evan Korth asked me to lead hackNY and take it to its next phase, the choice was easy. New York City is an amazing community filled with diversity and tenacity – and hackNY will do its part to make that community even stronger and better.

When talking about hacking, I always think back to what I learned running hacks at Yahoo! Hackathons were brought into the mainstream back in 2005 by Chad Dickerson (now CEO of Etsy). Chad was my boss at Yahoo! for a time and he always extolled the virtues of the hack – empowering people, getting out of the way, and letting them build awesome things. I’ve tried to imbue this spirit of hack in my endeavors ever since — in my experience, it always, always leads to good things.

I’m proud to be part of this organization that is empowering students and the NYC tech ecosystem. hackNY has done a great job thus far with its mission, with over 130 fellows (our alumNY) from 40 different schools around the world having interned at over 50 different NYC startups.

There’s an incredible opportunity for hackNY to continue contributing to the community, including cultivating gender and minority diversity, expanding the program to start early with high school students, and keep going with long-term mentorship on the other end, and extending into areas beyond engineering, like design and product. These are all things that have been discussed that we can now start making a reality and I can’t wait to get started. If you’d like to help, to discuss, or to be a part of realizing this vision, please email me!

When I think about it, hackNY has a many similarities to an ice cream shop – they’re small/medium business oriented, very community based, high quality ingredients are a must, lots of creativity and fun are involved, and everybody loves ice cream and hackNY fellows. So next time you see me, tell me what you’d like to see hackNY do, and what your favorite flavor of ice cream is! (Really, I want to know!)

The following is a selection of images created by Lisa Luo during the summer speaker series as a member of the class of 2014 hackNY fellows. Want to become a hackNY fellow this summer? Checkout apply.hackny.org.

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The following interview was originally published in the HackNY FieldGuide for the tenth hackNY hackathon where hackNY celebrated the graduation of its fifth class of hackNY Fellows. Kyle Ryan ’14, interviewed a selection of fellows during the summer to discuss what made them tick.

Want to become a hackNY fellow this summer? Checkout apply.hackny.org.

Photo Jul 06, 3 23 11 PM

Catherine currently attends the University of Chicago, she was the hackNY fellow at Oscar Health in SoHo this summer.

Where did you grow up?

Howell, NJ. It’s a small town in central Jersey. We lived in Howell almost my whole life. We moved once about a block away. I have one sister who is older than me, and when I was 10 we adopted two kids from Ukraine. I was homeschooled for 5 years, so I was in a really sheltered environment. I transitioned to going to public school which was very traumatic. We all know how welcoming elementary school kids are.

I was ahead academically when I transferred. When I was homeschooled, I didn’t have video games or anything, so I read a lot of books. My older sister was a huge influence. I didn’t get into Computer Science until later. I taught myself Python in high school, but didn’t start taking CS until my second year of college.

What’s your biggest struggle?

I would call it ‘self-confidence.’ I need to convince myself that i’m well suited to the task at hand. I tend to fail to internalize my own accomplishments. It’s basically the imposter syndrome. Usually I do just fine, but it’s still something that I get anxious about.

What advice would you give the person you were 4 years ago?

I was probably sleeping this moment 4 years ago, haha. I was a lot more uptight about grades. I was your stereotypical ‘oh my god, I have to be valedictorian and get good grades.’ I guess I wanted to get into a good college. I’ve always been a huge perfectionist.

I would tell them to stop worrying so much. I’ve stopped worrying about my grades. Because in the end, everything will be all right.

Where do you see yourself going in 4 years?

I still have 2 years left of college so I don’t know if I should get a job in tech or go to grad school. As cliche as this sounds, my biggest goal is just to wake up every morning and love what I do. That’s where I want to be.

The following interview was originally published in the HackNY FieldGuide for the tenth hackNY hackathon where hackNY celebrated the graduation of its fifth class of hackNY Fellows. Kyle Ryan ’14, interviewed a selection of fellows during the summer to discuss what made them tick.

Want to become a hackNY fellow this summer? Checkout apply.hackny.org.


Matt Condon goes to Louisiana Tech and worked at Magnetic in Chelsea as their hackNY fellow.

Where’d you grow up?

I grew up in Louisiana. I had a few struggles growing up. Most of my time was spent around Louisiana area. I went to Louisiana tech mostly because it was free for me. Up until now, I was an EE and Physics major. But now after doing hackNY, I’m going to switch to being a CS major.

What’s your biggest struggle right now?

Time is really a struggle. I think we all have felt that. There’s so many possible routes I could go on. I just want to do ‘everything’ but know that I can only do one or two of those things with the time I have. It reminds me of the proverbial triangle between Friends, Academics and Family.

What advice would you give the person you were 4 years ago?

Mostly, I just stopped worrying. I spent most of my high school worrying about failure or about getting good grades. Once I stopped worrying and caring about what other people thought of me, I was free to do the things I’m doing now.

Where do you see yourself 4 years from now?

I’ll probably figure out how to take a quarter off of school to work at a place like Digital Ocean. I’d want to do an internship every winter quarter until I graduate. That way I am able to get experience while still going to school.

Everything I’ve done, and even though this sounds crazy, points to building an exoskeleton suit like Iron Man. It’s the perfect combination of everything I love ’96 electrical engineering, computer science and physics. If i’m able to be involved in something like that, I would extremely enjoy it.

The following is a selection of images created by Lisa Luo during the summer speaker series as a member of the class of 2014 hackNY fellows. We’ll be posting a selection of Lisa’s doodle’s every Wednesday for the next few weeks. Want to become a hackNY fellow this summer? Checkout apply.hackny.org.

Speaker11 Speaker15 Speaker16