Backing Major League Hacking

Powering technical student learning & collaboration worldwide

Three years ago, Major League Hacking (MLH) set out to become the platform for organizing and championing student hackathons across the globe. If the CS degree is the structured learning place for skill building, the hackathon would be the laboratory/playground for practical application, experimentation, imagination, and leveling-up.

Around the same time that MLH was formalizing its hackathon format, I was becoming increasingly interested in the communities of concentrated talent developing around these events. Peter Boyce, who’d been actively participating in the MLH community since his sophomore year of college, had recently joined us at GC and connected us with MLH’s founders, Swift and Jon. Peter had served on MLH’s advisory committee since its inception and was very enthusiastic about the community’s growth. With 8 hackathons in their first season to 200 events and over 65,000 participants in 15 countries just three years later, the momentum behind the MLH community was palpable. And after a couple years of sponsoring the community, we realized that we wanted to roll our sleeves up to help the MLH team even further.

Fostering an authentic, high-energy environment where students come together to build new, creative solutions under the tutelage of world class technical mentors, using the most cutting-edge hardware is complex and difficult to orchestrate. MLH does so organically and effectively, inspiring the most ambitious young engineers to give their best outside of the classroom on college campuses all around the world. MLH is also a powerful forcing function for cross-school collaboration. At any given participating hackathon, 85% of the attendees are recruited from other campuses, getting student groups to find new friends and engineering partners.

As long-time participants and now investors in the MLH community, we’re seeing the amplifying effects that MLH has throughout the hackathon ecosystem. Engineers, designers, and makers coming out of MLH hackathons often start their own companies (some through Rough Draft Ventures), apply to YC, or join start-ups to provide the technical horsepower needed to architect tomorrow’s platforms.

As a firm, we’ve collaborated with young entrepreneurs and students for more than 15 years. We believe that universities and student-led organizations play an invaluable role in inspiring the next generation of product leaders and start-up founders. With offices in Cambridge, MA; Palo Alto, CA; and New York City, we have been lucky enough to work with some of the brightest minds coming out of schools in all three cities. This is why we invest in them both through Rough Draft Ventures, our student-focused funding initiative, directly as we’ve done with WayUp (the world’s largest hiring marketplace for students), and now with MLH.

We’re dedicated to making the power of software creation accessible to as many communities as possible and through our commitment to Major League Hacking, we move one step forward in advancing that goal. We couldn’t be more excited to support Swift, Jon and the MLH team and help them continue on their path towards becoming a massive global federation.

If you’re interested in bringing a hackathon to your school or envision another way we can expand the mission that MLH is embarking on, drop us a line and let’s join forces.

Spencer Lazar & Team GC