Houston Voices

Global Legal Hackathon launches at The Cannon in Houston

Students, technologists, lawyers, mentors, and judges of all ages and backgrounds packed The Cannon's space Saturday and Sunday for the Houston chapter's Global Legal Hackathon. Getty Images

Hackathons have been launching across the globe at an ever-increasing rate, providing opportunities for computer programmers and others involved in software development to collaborate on projects that solve problems.

Hackathons usually consist of a multi-day workshop in which individuals break into teams and compete against each other to win the approval of a panel of judges, often resulting in a prize. These events will have a specific theme or focus centered on problem solving in today's world using new technologies. Themes can vary from utilizing a new technology like blockchain, supporting a movement like mental illness awareness, or even just working to develop a brand-new app that solves a problem previously not considered.

Global Legal Hackathon is a nonprofit entity that organizes legal groups across the globe. Since launching, GLH has hosted over 6,000 participants in 24 different countries. The primary goal for these events is to bring together people under a unified vision to develop solutions that improve the legal industry. Last weekend, GLH hosted over 5000 hackathons across the world, with a winner from each location moving onto the next round.

The Houston branch manager for the Global Legal Hackathon is Internetbar.org Institute. IBO organizes, gathers mentors, manages, and provides support for all legal hackathons in Houston. Christy Leos, the director of operations of IBO, described their mission as an "aim to support those who need critical help more efficiently, and change processes that no longer serve the people."

The president of IBO, Jeff Aresty, expanded on this mission.

"Like previous generations, we too must rely upon failed justice institutions and laws to protect those who are excluded from society, protect the climate, and eradicate poverty. In the meantime, the online society which now amounts to over half the world, is dominated by everyone else in civil society who are engaging in all kinds of online activity that may connect us with each other – but do very little to effectively bring fairness and freedom to us all."

The Cannon was proud to host last weekend's Houston chapter of the GLH. Students, technologists, lawyers, mentors, and judges of all ages and backgrounds packed the space Saturday and Sunday. By the end of the hackathon, the winning team had developed a tool to assist lawyers in visualizing eDiscovery data, combined with the information used to manage the movement of that data through the EDRM process.

As hackathons continue to grow in both size and frequency, their modern creative solutions to today's problems also grow. Moving forward, IBO hopes to continue to go where the problems are. They are already planning to host an access to justice hackathon by the end of the year where Aresty hopes to continue the progress made over the weekend, sharing with the group that "their actions can help us reinvent how we make laws and devise a social contract that brings access to justice for all." More events like last weekend's are certainly a step in the right direction of this ambitious but much needed goal.

If you're interested in Internetbar and participating in events like this in the future, please visit http://internetbar.org/membership.
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This is content from our partner, which originally ran on The Cannon.

Capital Factory will have a branded area in The Cannon when it opens its new facility. Courtesy of The Cannon

A major Texas innovation player with roots in Austin has now staffed its recently announced Houston outpost in partnership with The Cannon Houston. Capital Factory hired two Houstonians to help provide resources for its growing Houston-based portfolio companies.

Kendrick Alridge has been hired as mentor coordinator, and Brittany Barreto, who founded Pheramor and WeHaveChemistry, has been named the venture associate. Aldridge will focus on growing and cultivating relationships with Houston mentors, and Barreto is dedicated to reaching out to Houston startups to gauge their potential for Capital Factory participation.

Hiring these Houstonians and having these new boots on the ground is a key factor for Capital Factory as it grows its Houston presence, says Gordon Daugherty, president at Capital Factory.

"It's important for us to think Texas, but act local," Daugherty says. "What that means is we can't just assume that the way we do things and the things that made us successful in Austin will directly translate to Houston. Houston is a different market. That's one of the things we learned from Dallas."

Acting locally entails listening and learning to what the community wants and engaging with local organizations to contribute value to the market.

"We don't know how or in which ways, but we know Houston will be different from Dallas and Austin," Daugherty says. "In this way, we are advantaged by our two employees being from the Houston area. They're our eyes and ears, for one, but they are also the voice of Houston to us along with other ecosystem players."

While local resources and personnel are both new for Capital Factory, the organization already has over 20 portfolio companies that are based in the Houston area. Now, these companies will have new resources close to home and can also act as Capital Factory representatives in the community, Daugherty says.

One of the biggest benefits Capital Factory is bringing into town is investment opportunities. Daugherty says that he predicts that Capital Factory, which tends to invest many small-sum deals, will quickly become the most active early stage investor in Houston. The organization has already made a few investments in Houston companies — and this isn't even counting the dollars invested by the investment partners.

"Our mission, as it pertains to Houston, is to help the best Houston startups get funded. We will tap into our network of investors across the state and country to try to find the best matches."

If Houston can take any indication from Capital Factory's Dallas location, which opened earlier this year, Capital Factory will be making a big impact on Houston startups.

"In 2018, 25 percent of the startups we onboarded into the accelerator were from outside of Austin," Daugherty tells InnovationMap. "The first half of this year, a third or more have come from Dallas alone. And I expect the same from Houston. Next year, easily more than half of our new accelerator companies will be outside of Austin."

Capital Factory will have branded space in The Cannon when it opens its new facility later this month.