St. Paul, Minn. – Macalester is holding its third Macathon, a mash-up of a computer hackathon and a business start-up competition where students ‘solve a problem and build a product’ 4:30 p.m., Fri., Feb. 20, ending at 7:30 p.m. Sat., Feb 21.

Macalester students form teams of 3-6 participants for Macathon, Macalester’s overnight innovation and technology contest with over $2,000 in cash prizes. The three teams that come up with the most innovative tech-enabled product or service for either the commercial or nonprofit sector will win.

A traditional hackathon is a contest where computer programmers and other technologists compete to improve, break, build, and create new systems.  A start-up competition is an event where entrepreneurs, inventors, and design-thinkers compete to come up with new and disruptive ventures.  Macathon puts the two concepts together in one event.

Macalester’s Macathon challenges student teams to put their liberal arts education into action and invent a new product or service (website, interactive application, mobile app) that solves a real-world and relevant problem or is just flat-out cool. To succeed, Macathon teams need a mix of technical, business, design, communication and general creative skills.

What will happen
Non-stop from 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, teams of Macalester students will compete for cash prizes and the opportunity for feedback from successful alumni entrepreneurs, technologists, and investors.

The Judges/Advisors and Co-Founders
Macalester alumni judges, advisors, and co-founders are entrepreneurs, technologists, and investors:

Seth Levine ’94
Co-Founder, Macathon; Managing Director, Foundry Group
Seth’s career spans venture capital investing as well as operational, transactional and advisory roles at both public and private companies. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, Seth began his venture capital career at Mobius Venture Capital. Currently, he serves as a board member of roughly 12 start-up companies. Seth is a summa cum laude graduate of Macalester with degrees in both economics and psychology. He is active throughout the entrepreneurial community in Colorado. 

Per von Zelowitz ’94
Co-Founder, Macathon; Founder and CEO, Cowri
A Macalester Trustee Emeritus, Per has over a decade of experience as a venture investor in digital media, communications, enterprise software and consumer software and service spaces. Per is the chief event judge and, along with Seth Levine ’94, generated the Macathon concept.

Steve Arnold ’72
Co-Founder and Partner Emeritus, Polaris Partners, Polaris Ventures
Prior to founding Polaris as a venture capital firm in 1996, Steve had senior executive positions at Microsoft, LucasArts, LucasFilm and Continuum (now Corbis) Corporation. With George Lucas, Steve is a co-founder of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. He also serves on the boards of several other education-related non-profit organizations.

Beth Desnick ’82
President, Thebe & Co
After graduating with a degree in English, Beth moved to Paris with artist friends and created an international salon in her sixth floor walkup. Upon her return, she worked as a political aide and then stepped into the role of managing exhibitions and publications at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Seeing a niche, Beth founded Thebe & Co. with Thea Nelson, ’83, a creative agency focused on design thinking and innovative problem solving.

Altay Israfil ’98
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Prospera Real Estate, Independent Consultant
Altay works as a strategic and financial consultant to growing businesses based out of London. Prior to this, he founded and managed Prospera Real Estate, a real estate investment company active in acquiring, renovating and selling old buildings in Central Istanbul from 2007 until 2014. He began his career as an investment banker, working for Merrill Lynch and UBS in San Francisco and London.

D. Christian Koch ’87
Group President, Diversified Products, Carlisle Companies, Inc.
Prior to Group President position at Carlisle, Chris held a variety of positions at Carlisle, Graco and H.B. Fuller, including a six-year posting in China managing Asia Pacific business for Carlisle and Graco. An economics and history double major at Macalester, Chris has an MBA from the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota and serves on their Alumni Board. In addition, he is the lead director on the Arctic Cat board.

Rodney Mogen ’99
Chief Financial Strategist, Business Coach, Insurance and Investment Specialist, Startup Advisor, National Director, Mogen Consulting, Financial & Training LLC, The Evans Group LLC, M4Enterprises
Rodney started off as a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial and moved up the ranks while establishing his leadership and business development skills. He currently runs his own business working with entrepreneurs and business professionals to develop their business, identify funding, and organize themselves in the right financial order.

Peter Pascale ’94
Director, Product Strategy and Architecture, Pearson VUE
A geography and environmental studies double major at Macalester, Peter has MS degrees in both geography and software engineering. With over 15 years experience in software development, Peter guides product and technology investment for Pearson VUE, a global testing and educational certification provider.

Kate Ryan Reiling ’00
Founder, Morphology Games; Product Department Manager, InBoxDollars
Kate launched Morphology, a word/board game, in 2009, shortly after completing her MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She was a political science major and a three-time Division III soccer All-American at Macalester. In 2013, Kate licensed the Morphology Games portfolio, which includes a junior version and an iPhone app, to PlaSmart, Canada’s leading toy and game company, and took a product manager position with a Minneapolis start-up.

David Sielaff ’90
Principal Software Engineering Manager, Microsoft Corporation
After majoring in math and computer science, David is now a software engineer with multiple patents, an angel investor and a startup advisor. He has led teams across Microsoft, arriving there when Intrinsa, the startup where he was chief software architect, was acquired in 1999.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 2,045 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at or follow @macalester on Twitter for updates throughout the event.

Who: 12 Macalester student teams
What: Macalester’s Macathon
When: Fri., Feb. 20 – Sat., Feb 21, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Olin-Rice Science Center
Best time to go: Sat., at 2:30 p.m. when the participating teams present to the judges in Olin-Rice Room 250. Winning teams will be announced at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Barbara K. Laskin, Macalester media relations, 651-399-3252.

February 13 2015

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