Instead of focusing on product development milestones (of which I’m happy to say we have many), we’d like to focus this blog post on morale boosting and culture establishing events over the past two weeks.

Watts Hackathon
The Watts Hackathon 2015 was hosted by Teens Exploring Technology (@URBANTxT), an organization whose mission it is to nurture science, technology, engineering and math interest in underrepresented minorities. This event -- which by the way was amazing -- also helped us clarify our own mission.

Unlike other college- and professional-level hackathons we’ve attended, this was a hackathon for elementary, middle school and high school students. Unlike the glass paneled buildings that house those hackathons, the Watts Hackathon was held in a non-air conditioned auditorium in the Nickerson Gardens Housing Development. And unlike the polished coders that might help a company like ours now, a few diamonds in the rough got to shine.

There was one young man whose natural curiosity at such a young age stood out to us. As we looked on at his screen, his father shared the story of his seventh-grade son. This is a young man who has developed multiple games on his own, has big plans for college, and has even bigger plans to make a splash in the gaming industry. We don’t make assumptions about how great or small the support that he receives from home or school is, but we can safely say that he is the main driver behind his activities and aspirations. We believe this is an early sign of true talent and feel the need to nurture it.

We at Q-Cigarettes, Inc. hope to make our product line highly accessible, i.e., available in many languages, across many platforms and at no cost for major features. Even as we continue to build the first version of our product line, we are trying to instill that spirit in all other aspects of our company. So, we offered that young man a ‘learning internship’ where he will benefit from seeing how our coders work and where we will benefit in our own way from him joining the team. We’re anxious to hear back from him.

Out of a field of over 3,000 companies, Q-Cigarettes, Inc. was selected as one of about 100 semi-finalists in the 43North Competition (@forty3north). It is a pitch competition with a grand prize of up to one million dollars and additional in kind rewards. It is held in Buffalo, NY, a city like many others that is trying to restructure its local economy with health and tech startups. We feel like we’re the perfect fit in terms of mission orientation and the potential for job creation and healthcare cost reduction. Wish us luck.

There’s plenty more to report, but that’s all for now folks ;).

Drew Park