Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator to pay visit to Johns Hopkins

Representatives of tech company responsible for Reddit, DropBox, Airbnb will meet with students ahead of HopHacks hackathon

Hours before the kickoff of the biannual HopHacks hackathon on Friday, organizers will welcome two members of the Silicon Valley tech accelerator Y Combinator, which has served as an incubator and fundraiser for tech giants such as DropBox, Airbnb, and Reddit.

Y Combinator partner Dalton Caldwell and hardware specialist Luke Iseman will host a talk, followed by a Q and A session, at 5:30 p.m. at Hodson Hall. The speakers will also hold office hours and meet with students to discuss startup ideas before their scheduled talk.

Caldwell is the founder of the music streaming service imeem—which was acquired by MySpace in 2009—and Mixed Media Labs. Iseman cofounded the soil sensor startup Edyn and specializes in hardware development.

Event organizer Kasim Ahmad, a venture coordinator for Johns Hopkins University's own accelerator program, FastForward, says the goal is for the speakers to impart some of the secrets of their own successes.

"I hope that attendees of the talk are inspired to take the next step in their entrepreneurial process," he says.

Added Daniel Swann, a student founder of HopHacks who will graduate in May with a master's degree in computer science: "Y Combinator is all about the cutting edge of technology. They really like to see innovative ideas and innovative teams. They want to see people who are passionate about technology, who are really devoted to what they're working on, and people who think of alternative ideas. We hope to see that in our hackathon—really creative ideas that haven't been seen before."

HopHacks is a 36-hour hackathon that brings together university students from around the country to take part in collaborative computer programming. The event is coordinated by a team of 13 students and is sponsored in part by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Google, Bloomberg, and AOL, among others. Winning teams are awarded cash prizes, and additional awards and honors will be given out by sponsors.