See Big Ideas Born at Hack the Gap’s 2017 Hackathon at Target’s Minneapolis HQ

January 17, 2017 - Article reads in
A group of women share ideas during a brainstorm session

Heard about Hack the Gap? The Twin Cities-based organization, founded in 2015, helps Minnesota’s strong community of technical women connect and collaborate, build their networks and let their talents shine. Last weekend, as part of Target’s ongoing support for women in technology, we hosted Hack the Gap’s 2017 hackathon (think: big, multi-day all-women programming showdown) at Target Plaza Commons, a collaborative team space at our Minneapolis headquarters.

At the event, 88 programmers split into 14 teams and prepared to square off. All day Saturday, they worked with a team of local tech mentors—including Target’s own Emi Lyman, senior engineer and member of Hack the Gap 2015’s winning team—to brainstorm ideas for innovative apps and programs, and build pitches around them with coded demos.

On Sunday, groups delivered their presentations at an open house event where the public voted on the winners. Among the contenders? ToastBot, a set of sensors for your toaster that send a text message when your toast pops up. Carey, a personal wellness assistant that schedules appointments based on the user’s calendar and personal preferences. Happy Head, a “smart” sports mouth guard that detects and alerts the wearer if they’re at risk for concussion. And the weekend’s big winner: Talkative Chef, an audio app that guides users through recipes hands-free using audio prompts.

Hack the Gap welcomes women with all types of tech experience and skill levels. “One big goal of our organization is inspiring action—getting people to focus on actually doing something over merely talking about the gender gap in technology,” says Hack the Gap co-founder Kristen Womack. “There are already lots of women in the technology pipeline; we keep doing hackathons and more women keep showing up. So we appreciate partners like Target that help us grow and expand the event, and provide great spaces and resources for our members to use.”

Check out more of what went on at the event:

Target’s commitment to hacking the tech gender gap doesn’t stop with hosting and sponsoring events. This week at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York, Target’s Chief Information and Digital Officer, Mike McNamara, took to the stage and shared his goal of having women be 50 percent of entry-level engineering hires on Target's technology team over the next year. “It’s a lofty goal, but it’s one that’s important to our future and our efforts to build a premier technology team,” he says.

Interested in joining Target’s technology team? Check out available roles and meet more of our team members on the Pulse blog.

Photos courtesy of Shari Hagen,

Don’t miss out on the latest Target news and behind-the-scenes happenings! Subscribe to our newsletter and get the top stories from A Bullseye View delivered straight to your inbox!