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The CodeLaunch Atlanta Experience

Shelby Sansone // August 30, 2021

Community & Culture

Ask any Improver what the best time of year is, and they just might say “whenever CodeLaunch is scheduled”. Since 2013, the startup accelerator event has taken place annually in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and will continue to do so. But this year, Atlanta got to experience all the fun for the first time!

Our Atlanta, Houston, and Frisco offices sent teams into the startup world so they could participate as a hackathon team. Improvers Robyn Fuentes (Houston) and Jeremy Edmonson (Atlanta) spent several days working side by side with finalist teams, getting them prepared for finals on Wednesday, August 18th.

What does a typical CodeLaunch week look like for consulting teams who volunteer to help out? Both Robyn and Jeremy say it’s one of the most gratifying things someone in the IT world can do.

“We all left CodeLaunch feeling like we were a part of something much bigger because Improving allowed us to participate.” - Jeremy Edmonson 

For both consultants, the Improving team members had extensive conversations with the startup companies they were going to work with.

Robyn and the Houston team partnered with iStory, a startup with the goal of creating the first interactive storytelling tool for digital marketers that integrates voice, AI, rich media, and analytics.

Jeremy and the Atlanta team worked with Evva Health, which is making both an app and web tool that gets information from physicians to caregivers for people with heartbreaking ailments like dementia using QR codes.  

All teams arrived at CodeLaunch headquarters the weekend before finals and participated in the product development hackathon. This is when the startup teams and volunteer IT consulting teams paired up and got to work. It was an extremely beneficial time for these businesses who received more than twenty thousand dollars of free IT work done to their products. Robyn explains this weekend as an adrenaline rush.  

“The first day you get there, you're ready to go. You’ve been thinking and planning in your head, but this is when you put it into action.” - Robyn Fuentes 
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She says they worked fast the first day. In thirty minutes, they had completely dived in, building buttons, APIs, and document storage.  

Jeremy explains that his experience was a little slower at first, but once they figured out a few missing pieces of infrastructure they started to move rapidly. Evva Health hadn’t touched any piece of their product for eight months because of funding restrictions, which is typical for some startups who apply for this opportunity.  

Their teams cut their twenty-four hours into three days. By the third day, they described a hectic scene where everyone is trying to beat the clock. Thankfully, both Evva Health and iStory had a product they could show off at the finals by the end.  

“You get to see everyone's super intense side. We were all sitting there together doing this awesome thing, and it’s a lot of learning.” - Robyn Fuentes 

Some people may wonder why these consultants take time out of their busy schedules to work at an event like this. It’s a pretty easy answer for anyone on an Improving CodeLaunch team. 

“It was refreshing. It was like a throwback to the early parts of my career when I actually just wrote code all the time. To be hanging out with other developers from sunup to sundown, it's fun.” - Jeremy Edmonson
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While it seems like an exhausting process, Jeremy and his team talked about how they have not felt this energized and motivated in a long time once it was all over. They were excited to get back to their clients the next day. For any companies who don’t understand the benefit of gathering a team to help startups during CodeLaunch, he wants them to consider employee retention.   

He points out that from a team of five, three people may stay at a company for three more years because of their love for CodeLaunch. While the company may lose out on a few days of billable hours, they have actually made an incredible investment.  

And, for participants on these teams, Robyn says consultants easily and quickly learn valuable skills throughout the process.  

“You learn a lot. You get to have fun with friends. You're able to build a product that you don’t have to work on in a week, and you can get out of your comfort zone for a while. It really builds relationships.” - Robyn Fuentes 
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If you read CodeLaunch’s summary blog post, you’ll see that Evva Health won the entire event! However, all four finalists received the opportunity of a lifetime and gained many new resources that will help them in the future. They will take what they’ve built during the hackathon, and work to grow into a successful, flourishing business.

Make sure to stay informed about upcoming CodeLaunch events by going to their website or following them on LinkedIn and Twitter. CodeLaunch DFW is happening on November 17, so consider attending or getting involved with the event! The organization will also announce more CodeLaunch events in several new cities for 2022. 

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