Luminary Labs
Nov 12
November 12, 2014

After the Codeathon: Supporting Early Stage Innovators


In early 2010, health met the hackathon as part of a public-private partnership between the US Government and healthcare innovation advocates Health 2.0.  Since this time, over 130 health hackathons have brought technologists together to promote health and well-being, yielding novel collaborations, new applications of technology, and even company formation. 
Fast forward to August 15th 2014, when the Clinton Health Matters Initiative partnered with Jawbone, Ace Hotel, and media partner SELF Magazine to launch the Women’s Health Codeathon Series. The Series challenges female developers and designers to build original, functional application prototypes based on key women’s health issues. The first challenge in the series took place at Ace Hotel, New York and team ‘Feasted’ was pronounced the winner.
Feasted conceived their concept with the idea that family mealtime should be luxurious - not a luxury. To this end, Feasted is a non-profit family meal subscription service that delivers nutritious meal kits to families in food deserts, which can be purchased with SNAP/EBT and picked up from school each week. 
What started as a rough idea quickly developed into a novel solution to address nutrition for low-income women. The vision attracted the attention of numerous organizations in New York and begged the question: how can Feasted become a reality? 
It was with this goal in mind that Luminary Labs, a strategy and innovation consulting firm, hosted its inaugural ‘Lab Session’ in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, to benefit Feasted and help them roll out their idea. Designed to address society’s most pressing issues, Lab Sessions bring together noted founders, designers, developers, data mavens, and innovators of all stripes to help early stage solvers develop tangible plans and establish valuable connections. Following a brief presentation from Feasted, participants broke out into small groups to help them navigate business planning, design, and technology challenges.
Through this exercise, three themes emerged:
  1. Ask and they will come. Prior to the event, Feasted made a wish list of high-profile innovators, and nearly all accepted the invitation. Investor Ester Dyson, Rent The Runway CTO Camille Fournier, Plated co-founder Josh Hix, Doug Hayes, the Director of Blueprint Health, and Dawn Barber, the co-founder of NY Tech Meetup, eagerly offered valuable insights and new connections. 
  2. Funding is not enough. All too often, prize money and angel investments are perceived as signals of startup success. Yes, money helps, but early stage health innovators require support from the community, including mentorship, connections, and industry expertise to make a good idea a reality. 
  3. There is a time to move from design and systems thinking to design and systems doing. Participants were actively encouraged to offer tangible advice, and it paid off. As Feasted’s Candace Williams told SELF Magazine, “We’ve all been to an event where everyone puts sticky notes on a wall and everyone’s excited, but this has been pretty groundbreaking. I’ve literally thought about things that I never would have thought about.”
So what’s next for Feasted? The team is preparing to launch  a pilot in the near future with 20 families in the South Bronx, and thanks to Lab Sessions, they will not be alone.
Last weekend, from November 7-9, the Clinton Health Matters Initiative – in conjunction with Atelier Ace, Jawbone, the Innovation Hub at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, MIT Hacking Medicine, and SELF Magazine – hosted the second Women’s Health Codeathon in Boston, Massachusetts. Female developers and designers were challenged to design and build original apps, with the focus on advancing women’s mental health. See highlights from the codeathon on Clinton Foundation social media channels on Facebook, Twitter @ClintonFdn, and Instagram @ClintonFoundation.