Why I Spent Last Weekend in NYC (or: DV Hacks: Humans)


Fostering the next generation of product, service, and business builders is something BCGDV Managing Director and Partner, Gunnar Trommer, believes should be supported at the highest level — and that’s why he spent last weekend coaching participants at BCGDV’s latest hackathon, DV Hacks: Humans.

By Gunnar Trommer, Managing Director and Partner at BCG Digital Ventures

Last weekend, I had the pleasure to serve as a coach for BCG Digital Ventures’ fourth hackathon in the DV Hacks series, DV Hacks: Humans. The event took place over the course of ~48 hours at BCGDV’s Innovation and Incubation Center at 10 Hudson Yards, right in the heart of New York City’s vibrant tech scene. More than 65 participants joined us from around the globe, including a group of Yale MBAs, engineers from Goldman Sachs, Yahoo, Microsoft, and many others. The objective: To tackle Human 2.0 — the next generation of technologies, applied through a human-centric lens, promising to shape the future of how we live, work, collaborate, and learn.

At BCGDV, we aim to be at the epicenter of tech-enabled business builds, and we firmly believe it is our responsibility to support people who share in this aspiration. With our DV Hacks series, we offer a space for those who are passionate and crazy enough (in a good way) to spend their weekend ideating and hacking product, service, and business solutions that could potentially change the world. Beyond the obvious benefit of helping create transformative ideas, hackathons are an excellent vehicle to inspire the essence of collaboration, giving participants the opportunity to work with people they’ve never worked with, on things they’ve never had a chance to work on before.

In this way, a core piece of the DV Hacks experience is building a global community of innovators. This well-supported platform is a place where some of the best and brightest minds can come together, learn from and inspire each other, and ultimately reap the rewards of what this kind of cooperation can achieve — both for themselves on an individual level and for society at large. Fostering team building and multidisciplinary collaboration in hugely diverse settings is one of the biggest value-adds that comes out of these events, not only for external participants who join us for the weekend, but also internally at BCGDV amongst the many coaches and volunteers who make DV Hacks a success.

Gunnar Trommer, BCGDV partner and managing director, with Sharon Mwale and Min-Joo Lee from Team AlphaGo who won for best business pitch.

On a personal level, the topic of DV Hacks: Humans is near and dear to me, as I am deeply passionate about bringing digital health solutions that touch millions of lives to the market, and have spent almost two decades working towards this goal…Yes, I’m old enough to recall the time when the term “digital health” did not even exist until a bunch of idealistic and somewhat naive people (myself included) started trying to make mainstream tech robust enough to be applied in health care and bring digital user experiences from the consumer world to the health care space.

At BCGDV, we are looking to fundamentally redefine how consumers/patients, clinicians, or simply humans, interact across the health care spectrum to allow people to live their best lives possible. We have made substantial investments in this space; not just from the standpoint of building health-tech ventures with our corporate partners, but also investing in the next generation of individuals who will be responsible for creating and scaling these solutions that will help drive powerful social impact.

So, when the opportunity arose to fly from my home in Manhattan Beach, CA to New York for the weekend to serve as a coach, I jumped on board without hesitation. I very much enjoy being able to share my experience with others and let them avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Fostering the next generation of product, service, and business builders is something I believe should be supported at the highest level, and as a partner at BCGDV, I’m grateful for the opportunity to do just that.

While hackathons are intense working events, they are also a lot of fun and there is never a dull moment. I find brainstorming (around the solution), jamming (on product features and solution architectures), and rehearsing (for the “shark tank” style pitch) with the participating teams to be extremely inspiring and energizing. Watching people become fueled with the kind of excitement that can only be obtained by building something from scratch under intense time pressure and seeing teams that begin as strangers and end up on stage together cheering each other on as they see their ideas materialize into something real — that in itself is a reward for me and makes it all worth it.

Maybe you will decide to join us for the next one?

To learn more about DV Hacks: Humans, read a recap of the weekend here. Sign up for updates on when our next hackathon will be announced at dvhacks.com.



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BCG Digital Ventures, part of BCG X, builds and scales innovative businesses with the world’s most influential companies.