What Happened at Hack the Crisis 😍

Elyse Wyatt
Propellerhead NZ
Published in
8 min readApr 21, 2020


See all final team submissions here.

A week ago the amazing Laura Reitel sent through an email asking for help with a new initiative they had sprung up in record time (10 days in fact) — Hack the Crisis NZ. Propellerhead quickly jumped on board as sponsors and I volunteered to help along with my team member Kris. Here’s my experience.

The largest event of it’s kind in New Zealand

Around the world, more than 30 countries have run online #hackthecrisis events. It was New Zealand's turn. In collaboration with Callaghan Innovation and startup networks across the country, the 48-hour-long weekend hackathon challenged Kiwis to design, test and bring to life innovative ideas for life in New Zealand beyond COVID-19.

In the days leading up to the weekend, anyone could send through idea submissions of what they wanted to work on as part of the weekend. These submissions were accepted if they could be related to the following impact areas:

  • Supporting businesses
  • Connecting communities
  • Resilience and wellbeing

The Participants

If you didn’t have an idea to submit, no worries, as you could still register for the weekend and join a team. People came together from all around New Zealand, from the deep South to Inner City Auckland, and there was no age barrier!

Mentors + Coaches + Organising Team 👫

There were two types of support for the teams — Mentors and Coaches.

Coaches worked with multiple teams each to get them access to mentors and other support, and checked their health and wellbeing. Mentors worked shifts throughout the weekend, helping teams through problem validation, pitch practice, and offered feedback and advice.

Mentors usually paired up, and never gave advice to teams without either another Mentor or a Coach in the call.

Typical mentor chat throughout the weekend.

The Mentor pool was outrageously good, from long-time startup gurus Brett Holland and Geoff Brash, to Nuri Cocay from AWS, Michelle Cole from EHF, Marian Johnson from Ministry of Awesome, Neil Hamilton, director and investor, Mahesh Muralidhar from Simply Wall St (Formally Canva & Airtasker), Rachel Adams from Soda, Anna Guenther from PledgeMe and many more!

There were over 40 mentors and 13 coaches working across 55 teams.

The organising team.

The organisers were just as epic — Laura Reitel from Callaghan Innovation, Sandy Isaac from Ster, Dave Moskovitz, Luke Ball from CreativeHQ, Kyra Piccione from Soda, and heaps more.

Friday — The Kickoff 📢

Participants started signing up and submitting ideas each day, which were then shared publically. On Friday night there was then a mad dash to submit any final ideas and form teams around these ideas. Fully formed teams (at least three people) were able to continue on and work throughout the weekend on their idea.

Here’s the agenda for Friday:

By this stage, there were almost 1000 people in Slack!

People used multiple methods to join teams or find people to join their idea. Everyone had info of each submitted idea, so could search for their favourite idea in Slack and pitch their services to that team:

An example of the many team channels you could jump into.

Or, they could post what they needed in the multiple group channels:

This was in #connecting

They could also pitch themselves and/or their ideas at the Speed Dating session:

Teams began work at 7pm — many worked late hours that first night to get a good start.

Saturday ⏳

On Saturday most teams were going hard on problem validation — many developed surveys and hunted for people, groups and companies to get feedback from. In the background, the organisers had prepared a great day of activities:

By Saturday afternoon many teams were still spinning, not having found a clear direction forward or still thinking about what they were trying to solve. A number of teams had made huge amounts of progress.

Words of encouragement from MC Dave Moskovitz on Saturday night.

Sunday ⏰

By Sunday, some teams were pivoting entirely, some teams were still focusing on validating their idea, and some were pulling their pitches together.

A 2pm hard finish meant that teams didn’t have much time to complete everything they needed — a brief, which documented everything they’d got done over the weekend, and a recorded pitch deck and voiceover from the team.

The program for Sunday.

At 2pm, chaos ensued, as many teams had difficulty uploading their submissions to YouTube. The deadline was extended by 20 minutes or so to ensure everyone could get theirs in.

My Teams

47 teams of the 55 who registered completed their final pitch on Sunday night. You can see them all here.

I looked after five teams as their Coach:


Vendor works to address food deserts — areas in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food — with next-generation vending machines that stock essential items.

Heartwork App

Team Heartwork came into the competition with the idea to digitize their tried and tested physical Heartwork cards, which make it easier for teams and organizations to connect meaningfully.

Trade Your Space

Due to the government introduced alert levels, many business owners & landlords have been left with vacant spaces after businesses shut down. Trade Your Space is a marketplace where users can list current vacant spaces they have across a wide range of mainstream & niche spaces, including for spaces they previously may not have thought of as rentable.


Ants was originally Viral Free Logistics, with the idea to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 in freight by utilizing UV light to kill off virus’s on packaging. The pivoted Sunday morning to become a marketplace matching excess freight delivery demand with spare capacity.


Expanse tackles the problem of SME’s not sufficiently equipped to move to remote work. The solution is a desktop app that links work software (email, project management, team chat, etc.) and integrates it with OKR (objectives & key results) / CFR (communication, feedback & recognition) software.

Judging 📋

All 47 final submissions went through the first round of judging, where groups of Mentors rated each submission across a number of categories. Eight teams who scored the highest marks made up the final judging lineup.

  • Sir Steven Tindall — Founder of The Warehouse Group
  • Vic Crone — CEO of Callaghan Innovation
  • Mike King — well known media personality and Ambassador for Key to Life
  • Greg Cross — Co-Founder of Soul Machines
  • Lisa King — Founder of Eat My Lunch

Judging Criteria

Submissions were judged across how well each team had nailed the following:

  1. Validation
  2. Prototype
  3. Viability
  4. Impact potential

Overall Award Winners 🎉 🎊

Organiser Jayden playing with our nerves 😅

These are the eight teams who scored the highest marks and made up the final judging lineup:

Draw This — Overall Winner

20% of people over 65 in New Zealand experience loneliness and isolation, which has a severe negative impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing. Social distancing during COVID-19 is exacerbating this problem, with many feeling isolated and disconnected from their communities.

Draw This! uses story-telling and art to build safe and fun connections across generations and between bubbles throughout New Zealand.

See their final pitch submission.

Some of the art from DrawThis users over the weekend.

Peer Postie — Runner Up

PeerPostie is a peer-to-peer delivery service that helps you get anything picked up and delivered to and from your door by a neighbour or another local person.

See their final pitch submission.

PowerMove — Runner Up

Energy poverty will impact a significant group of New Zealanders due to the Covid-19 crisis. PowerMove will connect those in need with kiwis who want to help out by gifting them power.

See their final pitch submission.

Wanderble-Riposte — Runner Up

Poor mental health is being exasperated by the current crisis. Wanderable-Riposte’s product delivers guided audio mindfulness experiences and then tracks wellbeing using their social posting tools and machine learning technology.

See their final pitch submission.

Maple — Highly Commended & Tertiary Student Winner

People are not walking enough, and local businesses are failing. Maple converts walking steps into points which can be traded for discounts at your favourite stores.

See their final pitch submission.

The FoodJockey — Highly Commended

Foodservice manufacturers and distributors need to conquer new markets and adapt new styles of doing business. FoodJockey is a 24/7 online marketplace that also acts as a virtual tradeshow; you could call it the Tinder of Tenders — Match, Meet, Make it happen.

See their final pitch submission.

Founder Rafael from FoodJockey answering final questions from judge Greg Cross.

Shopalong — Highly Commended

Many small grocery businesses are fighting for their survival, as often shoppers will go straight to a large supermarket to find all items necessary for a full shop. Shopalong is a virtual supermarket which makes one combined order from various local stores, then delivers it to you.

See their final pitch submission.

Roadmaps 4 Recovery — Highly Commended

Central government has made millions of dollars available to councils for projects, but there is no standardisation of reporting in terms of what other councils are achieving and doing. Roadmaps 4 Recovery is tool that curates and maps the risks and benefits of purposeful projects and project portfolios so those that allocate resources can make better, long-term, wellbeing based decisions.

See their final pitch submission.

Prizes 🏆

  • Winning team received $5,000 NZD
  • Three runner-ups received $3,000 NZD each
  • Free 12-month subscription to MYOB Essentials Accounting worth $480
  • Up to $10,000 USD worth of AWS credits and 1 year of Business Support (up to $1,500 USD) through AWS Activate.

Next Steps

See all final team submissions here.

I thought Hack the Crisis was incredible and am looking forward to staying involved through the Slack channel. This comment from Nuri Gocay sums up the weekend pretty nicely.

Many of the ideas from this event have the potential to create amazing positive change. Updates on what further developments come out of the weekend will be coming soon….