GlobalHack III Winners Improve Emerson’s Thermostat; Win $50K

December 9, 2014
Martin McGreal, Tara Pham, Bill MacMillian and Christine Stavridi are each $12,500 closer to entrepreneurial success after winning the GlobalHack III hackathon at UMSL this weekend.

The event, sponsored by Emerson Electric, took place from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. Participants split into teams and spent all day and night during that time working on a plan to improve Emerson’s Sensi thermostat. Travis Sheridan, the executive director of Venture Café – St. Louis and a co-founder of GlobalHack, said that more than 200 people with skills in engineering, coding and product design worked together on 14 different teams and presented their findings to Emerson on Sunday.

Even before GlobalHack III, the team members were all active members of St. Louis’ burgeoning startup community. Both McGreal and Pham are the co-founders of CTY, MacMillian is the co-founder of Prattle Analytics and Stavridi is a freelance developer and designer who works with Happy Medium. According to MacMillian, the four members of the team planned ahead of time that they would work together on the project, unlike many participants who scrambled to find teams once at the event.

The team’s idea to Emerson centered on never having to schedule your thermostat – rather, the device would change the temperature based on a series of lifestyle questions the owner would answer before implementation: such as whether you choose energy efficiency or comfort.

MacMillian said this was his first ever hackathon. A former political economy professor, his later work with Express Scripts and Monsanto gave him a firm background in corporate analytics, which came in handy at the competition.

“It was nice to see people with different skillsets at the event,” he said. “I was expecting it to be pretty much all coders, but a lot of people brought different things to the table.”

Following recent tragedy and unrest, GlobalHack III decided to hold this event in the Ferguson area, where Emerson is headquartered. “It was great to do the event right outside of Ferguson and to have the food for the event catered from Ferguson businesses,” Sheridan said.

“I was also very pleased with the turnout,” he continued. “Especially by the diversity of the participants at the event. It is great to see so many different types of people interested in building great products.”

In addition to Sheridan, GlobalHack was co-founded by: Gabe Lozano, CEO of LockerDome; Drew Winship, CEO of Juristat; and Brian Matthews, General Partner at Cultivation Capital. This is the third event GlobalHack has put on this year, with the first at Union Station and the second at the Cortex Innovation District.

Although another date has not yet been set for the fourth event, Sheridan made its future very clear. “GlobalHack will definitely continue well into the future.”

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