Garage48 Tech for Humanity

When 9-11 June 2017

Where Tallinn, Estonia

  • Overview
  • Agenda
  • Get Ready
  • Garage48 Tech for Humanity is a hackathon devoted to finding innovative solutions to ease and prevent humanitarian disasters.

    This event is organised the collaboration of Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol and Garage48.

    Taking place on June 9-11, 2017,  at the Tehnopol Startup Incubator in Tallinn, Estonia, the hackathon awaits DEVELOPERS, DESIGNERS, MARKETERS and FIELD EXPERTS with big hearts and bright ideas to work together and find solutions to aid humanitarian catastrophes. If You want to make the world a better place, then this hackathon is for YOU!

    There are three areas of focus at Garage48 Tech for Humanity: finding new implementations of technology to aid:

    • the refugee crisis
    • natural disasters and 
    • developing countries.

    According to the United Nations, there were 65 million displaced people in the world in 2016 - that is the highest number since the Second World War. Millions more suffered due to hunger and numerous natural disasters. When it comes to helping in such disasters, the effective use of information and technology are nowadays as important as food, water and medicine.

    Our partners International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Global Humanitarian Lab (GHL), NGO Mondo and Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation have mapped out the most crucial problems:

    • Better solutions in logistics, information gathering and distribution are essential to ensure that help would quickly reach the ones who need it the most. 
    • Sustainable solutions in education and psychological help are needful to ensure the normal quality of life for displaced people. These are just a few examples of areas in need of innovation.
    As a result of this hackathon, along with your team, you will have developed an idea into a working prototype and have a chance to present your solution to the ICRC, GHL and our other partners. From there on, the product development can continue in collaboration with the GHL or ICRC and the best solutions will be put to work at the international catastrophe sites.

    Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn more about the problems that await innovative solutions at the hackathon. Additionally to the challenges proposed by our partners, participants are encouraged to propose their own challenges to be solved at the hackathon.

    What is Garage48 about?

    Garage48 is a weekend long intensive development event to work out innovative technological solutions. In 48 hours, participants turn their ideas into working prototypes. A Garage48 event is a mixture of a hackathon and an exercise from a bootstrapper's bible. With origins from Estonia & the Silicon Valley, Garage48 events evolved being the first of its kind events in rapidly developing tech countries: Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya & elsewhere. The aim of Garage48 is to bring innovative ideas and new startups into life.

    How does Garage48 work?

    • The event begins on the Friday night with pitching ideas and forming teams. 
    • Experienced technical mentors and field experts guide the teams towards better solutions and working prototypes over the weekend. 
    • Sunday evening the event ends with presenting prototypes and selecting winners. Although, everyone is a winner after making many new contacts, crazy progress and learning a lot over the weekend. 
    • Read more about the event in the AGENDA and GET READY tabs.

    Screw it, let’s do it!

    Sign up TODAY & let’s change the world together!

    Book your ticket here.

    All registered participants will be invited to a dedicated Slack channel where you can discuss ideas with mentors & other participants.

    Read more about CHALLENGES that need a SOLUTION by scrolling to the bottom of this page.


    In order to narrow down the subject list, come out with more specific ideas and form teams, there will be a pre-event held on the 6th of June at Tehnopol Startup Incubator.
    Follow the pre-event on Facebook for more details!

    Follow us on:

    Tech for Humanity is funded by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organised with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Global Humanitarian Lab.
    17:30 - Doors open, check-in, networking, coffee, snacks
    18:00 - Opening remarks
    18:15 - Pitching ideas (90 sec per idea)
    20:00 - Refreshment break
    20:15 - Pitching ideas (continues)
    20:45 - Forming teams, everyone will choose their favourite idea
    21:00 - Teamwork begins!

    09:00 - Coffee & light breakfast. Development continues
    10:00 - Checkpoint #1
    11:00 - Mentors go around
    13:00 - Lunch
    13:45 - Product development
    18:00 - Checkpoint #2 & Pitch practice
    19:00 - Dinner
    20:00 - Product development continues

    09:00 - Coffee & light breakfast. Development continues
    10:00 - Checkpoint #3
    11:00 - Pitch drill session #1
    13:00 - Lunch
    14:00 - Pitch drill session #2
    17:00 - Coffee break with light meal/snacks
    17:30 - Final event & LIVE stream
    20:00 Jury deciding
    20:30 - Winners & networking

    GET READY for participants

    We'll start on Friday (June 9)  at 17:30 with opening doors. Please come on time, as the registration process might take some time. This time before the official opening is a great opportunity for getting to know the crowd and to network. See the agenda for further information.


    Positive attitude, open mind and lots of energy! Everything you need for a rapid product development.

    Please take your:

    • laptop
    • 3-5m power extension cord (as power might be on distance)
    • mobile phone
    • all chargers


    • photo camera to take and share photos
    • mattress
    • sleeping bag and towel (in case you would like to stay overnight)
    • credit cards for domain registration
    • business cards (if you have any)


    Ideas are presented based on "elevator-pitch" method within 90 seconds. Event host and audience can ask 1 to 3 short questions.

    You can prepare 1 (one) PDF slide to support your pitch. This slide will be shown on the big screen while you pitch. 

    You should send the slide by Friday noon latest (June 9), at the e-mail (Subject: name of your project). Ideas sent to us via email get preference.

    Consider following key points:

    • Briefly describe your background (10 sec)

    • What is the name of the idea? (5 sec)

    • What's the idea all about? What is the problem your idea solves? Target user count and description (30 sec)

    • Technical solution and if there is a revenue model (in case of non-profit idea, how the maintenance and further development costs will be covered?) (30 sec)

    • Minimum viable product and plan for 48 hours. Who do you need in your team? (20 sec)

    NB! Practice your pitch to your friends or family before you present! 90 seconds goes really fast!


    After pitching is over, we will put all the ideas on the wall. Every participant will choose their favourite idea and this is how teams will be formed. Usually, 14 to 20 best ideas will get enough interested people to get the "green light" for the implementation.

    The average team has about 5 to 7 people and the team should be "balanced" - covering all required roles like necessary engineers, designers, a project manager (team lead/visionary/field expert) and marketer in order to get the product/service ready in 48 hours! The minimum size for a team is 4 people and max is 8 people.

    If some ideas get too few people or are not balanced (probably unable to build the service), the idea will be dumped. Those people should choose another idea/team.


    After forming the teams, organisers will give a room/space for every team for the weekend. You should start by dividing roles, setting the product vision, customer journey and start working right away.

    It is very important that you have a project manager (team lead/field expert) on the team - one of his tasks is to keep the focus of the team, one eye on the clock and the other on the team progress. 48 hours is really a short time.


    We provide full catering at the venue. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on Saturday and Sunday.
    There’s also snacks/drinks/coffee available, so you can fully focus on your work.


    We have arranged great mentors to work with the teams throughout the weekend. Some of them have great field work experience, others are more technical. Be open and ask for their advice and contacts. They are there to help you!

    Please wear your name badge during the whole event, this will help to encourage networking. Otherwise be open, get to know new people, share your ideas and give ideas/feedback to other teams.

    MOST IMPORTANT - have fun!


    • Sunday afternoon 14:00 pm is the deadline. Either you have your service ready or not, time will tell.

    • Every team will practice their demo together with mentors and jury members for 10 minutes to make the final adjustments and make a better presentation.

    • We do not allow any Powerpoint presentations for web services - we want a live demo of your product!

    • The final demo event starts at 5:30 pm

    • We will pick teams randomly. Every team gets 3 minutes for product demonstration (+1 minute for questions).

    • We admit, that the development process is the ultimate importance. But we still have a jury, to evaluate the results and choose the top projects.


    Take your sleeping bag & mattress and you'll have a possibility to stay overnight in the venue.

    If you have further questions, please see the Agenda tab above and FAQ below. If you don't find an answer there, then please write us at or

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What is Garage48 Tech for Humanity? It is an intensive hackathon where people pitch ideas, form teams and build prototypes or sometimes full product/service over the 48 hours.

    • Who can participate? Registration is open to anyone. We are looking for people with different roles - front-end developers, back-end developers, mobile developers, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, field experts, but also other people interested in building a cool project within 48 hours. If you register to the hackathon event, then we expect you to be ready to work on the project also after the hackathon is over.

    • I don't have my own team? Can I come? Sure, Garage48 is about networking, meeting new people, hacking, building new products/services and finding new friends. After pitching ideas on Friday evening, all participants will choose their favourite idea and form a team on-site. You should carefully review all pitched ideas, talk to the team members, negotiate, brainstorm and finally find the best matching project for yourself. Then join this team and start working on the project.

    • How to submit and pitch an idea? We ask all participants to submit their ideas already when registering but also share your idea to our Facebook group before the event. This allows other participants to review their idea, ask questions and possibly to develop the idea further. On the hackathon event, there will be about 30-35 slots for ideas.

    • How long is the pitch? On Friday night there are 90-second pitches for each idea, followed by 2-3 questions from audience/mentors. You can have one slide (PDF) to support your pitch.

    • How are the ideas selected on the event? Afterwards, when ideas are pitched, each participant will choose the idea that s/he wants to work on. Ideas that are able to gather a sufficient team around them will prevail. People who have chosen the ideas that are not able to gather proper team will have to join other teams.

    • How big is an ideal team? In our experience, best teams have between 4 and 7 members. Each team should be self-sufficient by having all the main roles (business and product vision, design, programming, marketing, business development) covered. The minimum size for a team is 4 people and max is 8 people.

    • If I present an idea at the Garage48 Tech For Humanity event, can someone steal it? Of course :) Hackathon has many participants, including journalists, bloggers and tweeters - your idea will not remain a secret. So, if you think you have a top-secret, patentable, Nobel-prize worthy idea, then don't present it in the hackathon ;). On the other hand, if you have an idea that has been sitting in your head for some time, waiting for right time or right people to be put into practice, then this hackathon is a great place and environment for making it happen!

    • Is 48 hours enough? Yes and no. 48 hours is more than enough time to take an idea, build a working prototype, alpha or beta service and make it publicly available for users, potential customers. (Unless you are building a nuclear reactor, new drug, a spaceship of something similar, of course). However, to make your prototype, alpha or beta into a viable business, much more work after the event is needed. We encourage (and give preference in selection) to those participants, who show an interest and willingness to continue working on (successful and promising) ideas after the event!

    • Is it a startup competition to get funding? Not really. The main idea of the event is to build a startup community, find new friends and meet people, build something cool in 48 hours. But it's not so much about winning the prize or getting financing. This hackathon is mostly an experience of building a new (working) project in 48 hours, meet and work with new people whom you probably would not meet otherwise.

    • Can I buy a domain and set up hosting account before the event? Yes, you can do various preparations for your project unless you start designing or coding. We encourage you to think of the project name, business model, short-term and long-term plan etc. But it's not allowed to do any coding work on the project before the Garage48 Tech for Humanity event.

    • What happens to the developed products and services after the event? The project built during hackathon event is owned by the team who built it. So it's up to the teams to decide how do they take it forward. Some ideas are very likely to be developed into successful businesses, others struggle to find a feasible business model and fade away. Organisers are encouraging teams to continue developing the ideas and provide mentorship, but ultimately, the success or failure rests solely with the members of the team.

    • Is the hackathon a continuous 48-hour marathon or can I sleep during the event too? Sleep is for the weak. (Just kidding). While some teams pulled all-nighters at the last events, most successful teams did take time to get a full 7-8 hour sleep, come back in the morning refreshed and were fully productive during the day. We provide floor space in the venue in case you don't want to go home or to your hotel.

    • What if I have registered to the hackathon event as a participant but can not come to the event? Please notify us by e-mail as soon as possible about such changes. Garage48 does not give a refund to purchased ticket but you can use the same ticket to any other Garage48 hackathon, just let us know beforehand.



    The Mentors 

    Chiara Zanette
    Country Manager for Asia & the Pacific, Resource Mobilization Division at International Committee of the Red Cross
    Tarun Sarwal
    Head of Innovation Labaratory at International Committee of the Red Cross
    Daniel Dobos
    Physicist at CERN, Co-Founder at THE Port hackathon
    Liis Narusk
    CEO at ELEVATE by Garage48
    Martin Goroško
    Startup Incubator Manager at Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol
    Elise Sass
    Advisor at Garage48
    Tauri Tuubel
    Co-founder & CTO at Defendec
    Chris Raastad
    Product Engineer at TransferWise
    Cesar Zeppini
    Design Lead at Veriff
    Fred Moritz
    UX/UI Designer at Imagine AD 
    Kristi Ockba
    Humanitarian Aid Expert at NGO Mondo
    Mari Kinks
    Education Expert at NGO Mondo
    Veronika Svištš
    Humanitarian Aid Coordinator at NGO Mondo
    Eero Janson
    Director at Estonian Refugee Council
    Mari Rohtla
    Project Manager at Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation
    Siim Nemvalts
    Board Member at NGO Search and Rescue Works
    Jaanika Hirv
    Educational technology specialist at Tallinn University
    Kersti Eesmaa
    Director General of Consular Department at Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Tarmo Terep
    Director of the Rescue Services at Estonian Rescue Board


    Dagmar Urb
    Volunteer @ Garage48; Queen of Marketing 
    Merilin Lukk
    Project Lead @ Garage48
    Heleri Holm
    Volunteer @ Garage48, Business Development Assistent @ Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol
    Kairi Sülla
    Greentech Sector Manager @ Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol
    Kelli Rimmeld
    Volunteer @Garage48
    Kai Isand
    Host, mentor and pitch coach at Garage48 

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