2019 Detroit Fashion + Tech Hackathon Creates Innovative Solutions to Business Challenges in Detroit’s Retail, Apparel Manufacturing, and Technology Industries

2019 Detroit Fashion + Tech Hackathon Creates Innovative Solutions to Business Challenges
in Detroit’s Retail, Apparel Manufacturing, and Technology Industries
Winning Team from 36-Hour Hackathon Event Announced

Detroit –
The  2019 Detroit Fashion + Tech Hackathon (DF+TH) brought together more than 70 participants from 33 Michigan cities as well as a few out-of-towners from other states and countries this past weekend to work together to solve real problems facing established brands in the fashion industry. The 36-hour event kicked-off on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. and ran until 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, 2019. The event was held at Grand Circus Detroit located at 1570 Woodward Avenue on the fourth floor. The Detroit Fashion + Tech Hackathon was co-hosted by Whim, a Detroit-based tech company specializing in the apparel, athletic, and retail industries and the Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC), an initiative of the MEDC.

 The DF+TH set a number of goals for the event related to diversity, creativity, and community. It achieved these diversity goals by hosting 70 participants, becoming the largest retail and apparel innovation challenge in the Midwest. The 70 participants included 14 textile manufacturing professionals, 22 developers, nine UI/UX designers, and 10 retail owners and managers.

 Cash prizes totaling $1,500 were awarded to the top three winning teams. First place received $800, second place $500, and third place $200. DEVIATE, consisting of Cassidy Tucker, Kelsey Tucker, Matt Gotschall, and Vincent Bey, received first place with their solution “PoPP.” Fashion Tech Gurus, consisting of Shirley Rawlings, Steven Plat, Nathan Dimmer, Andrew Dimmer, and April Smith took second place for their solution “PopUp Hopper.” WildTex, with team members Reem Ali, Elizabeth Tong, Jordan Blackwell, Joseph Thomas, and Ali Azzawi, received third place after presenting their solution “Retrace.”

 There were two business challenges that were powered by Whim for the weekend. The first challenge, supported by Pingree Detroit and presented by Co-founder Jarret Schlaff, involved leveraging technology or data to reduce environmental textile waste to support designers, brands, and consumers who are looking for new ways to reduce their environmental footprint. According to The Balance Small Business, more than 15M tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States (an amount that has doubled in the last year).  Average Americans throw away 80 lbs of used clothing per person per year.  It costs a city, on average, $45/ton to dispose of textile waste and most consumers have limited options for repurposing old textiles.

 The second challenge, supported by York Project and presented by Founder Josh York, focused on creating a solution to help emerging brands assess which channels and pop-ups would deliver the most return on their investment. According to Accenture Retail, millennials, whose annual spending is projected to reach $1.4 trillion, will account for 30% of total retail sales by 2020.  Their shopping behaviors gravitate towards experiences and socially conscious brands.  And, emerging brands have challenges with making strategic decisions on how they select their customer channels, markets, and short-term pop-up investments.

 The first-place team, DEVIATE, presented the best solution to York Project’s issue of assessing which channels and pop-ups would deliver the most return on investment, called “PoPP.” “PoPP” is a mobile app that connects the following community: brands, customers, and pop-up locations. The mobile app allows brands to engage with customers, share their pop-up locations, and deliver analytics to help the brand with additional customer information. The additional information allows brands to make better selections regarding pop-up location selections.

 “The Detroit Fashion + Technology Hackathon is unique. We are building new innovation and collaboration muscles by merging creatives and retailers with developers, experience designers, and data analysts. It is an event that focuses on human capital and pushes people out of their comfort zones creating a prime display of collaboration,” said Lori McColl, Founder of DF+TH and Whim. “There is an important movement happening in the state for apparel manufacturing and design, and the DF+TH is helping to facilitate growth and partnership with talent, mentors and educators, and esteemed brands in the state.”

 The format for the Hackathon included multiple teams with two to five participants per team. At least one person per team is familiar with writing code. Other team members may include designers, artists, retailers, entrepreneurs, product/data specialists, and creatives. The team collaborated to find solutions to market-based challenges in the retail and fashion industries.

 “The DF+TH is a creative and efficient platform to provide an outlet to not only gather creative minds and show them where their talents could thrive, but to generate innovative new solutions to problems challenging brands everywhere,” said Kate Partington, Program Analyst for PMBC. “The hackathon is helping to show that Detroit and Michigan play an important role for innovation and talent in the apparel, retail, and tech fields.”

 The 36-hour competition provided participants with unique mentorship. The Whim team provided technology and industry experts with collectively more than 50 years of experience in the business. The mentors worked closely with participants throughout the weekend.

 The competition was judged on the quality of the participants’ responses to how their proposed solution presents an innovative approach in addressing the customer’s needs in a target market. Further, judges considered viability, impact, design, creativity, prototype, pitch, scalability, validation, and execution.  

 The event was made possible with support of numerous sponsors. Sponsors and partners for the 2019 DF+TH included: Google, Whim, Pure Michigan Business Connect, Pingree Detroit, York Project, Grand Circus Detroit, Shift Up, A. Victoria MAE, and Detroit Gourmet Nut Company.

 About Detroit Fashion + Tech Hackathon 
The 36-hour Detroit Fashion + Tech Hackathon brings together creatives and tech to create solutions to the problems facing the fashion and retail industries. The goal of the event is to support the overall foundation of innovation in Detroit. 
detroitfashionhackathon.com | Twitter | Facebook |Instagram 

 About Whim 
Founded with the mission to promote diversity in tech and innovation, Whim is an innovation lab and technology partner for businesses in the growth stage. The Whim team has more than 20 years of global experience in creative design, digital strategy, enterprise implementation, and managed services.   
www.whim-detroit.com | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn |Instagram 

 About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) 
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community and talent development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Visit Pure Michigan Talent Connect at www.mitalent.org for more information on Michigan’s online marketplace for connecting job seekers and employers. Join the conversation on: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.