‘Beat Adidas’ comes out on top at first ever FC Bayern HackDays event

These past couple of days I’ve had the pleasure, thanks to FC Bayern, of attending the finale of their first foray into the world of hackathons. An experience that was both bamboozling and inspiring in equal measure for someone who has an interest in technology, and is a bit of a geek, but not to the level of being able to code (though I hope to change that) or design digital products.

By way of some background…. FC Bayern launched the event in late 2017, appealing to everyone around the world to apply to come to Munich for four days of good, fun hacking. There were seven challenges set by the different sponsors of the club; adidas, Audi, DHL, T-Mobile, Siemens, SAP and the club itself.

Out of 1300+ applications, 220 people from 40 countries were flown over and put up for the duration. This showed the intent of the programme to be more than just a RR exercise, but one that they hope will help change the direction of the club in years to come. This was reinforced by the appearance of club CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, to open proceedings and members of the sponsors staff helping to mentor the teams over the 4 days.

“Digitization is becoming increasingly important for a football club,” said FCB Media Director Stefan Mennerich, “but the HackDays were an ideal catalyst for that.”

Benjamin Stoll, the person who put this extraordinary event together and FC Bayern’s Digital Product Manager, was a man whose feet barely stopped moving over the period of the event. Trying to pin him down to find out more about what was going on was almost mission impossible so in demand was he from colleagues, hackers and anyone else linked to the event. I imagine he is sleeping well today and hopefully taking a couple of well earned days off!

Bayern ran the event with partner UnternehmerTUM, the center for innovation and founding at the Technical University of Munich, which accompanies startups and established companies in founding a business and organizes the biggest hackathon in Europe with the Tech Fest. “They have the know-how that we do not have,” says FCB project manager Stoll. “So the partnership is ideal for putting on an event the size of HackDays.”

I saw teams of people unite to take the data and challenge they had been given to come up with a whole range of ideas. Some of the people were young and extroverted, whilst others were older and using their experience to guide as best they could. There were the odd ones who matched into your hacker stereotype – taking over and doing it all themselves, shutting out others involved to the detriment of the final product. But most were enthusiastic and collaborative and there to have a great time, meeting new people and not having much sleep.

Yesterday each team had the chance to pitch their idea to a panel from the challenging company. I watched a FanCam using FaceID and machine learning, the reinventing of the ticketing model using Blockchain, trivia reward apps to engage with fans around and during the match… and much more. There was Virtual Reality, something we’ll be covering in more detail during February, and more apps than you could shake a stick at.

Following the pitches everyone recovened in the main event room, where 300 people would be watching as the finalists were announced, and then rushed onto stage to present for a chance to win the grand prize. And what a prize it was…. the opportunity to travel with the team for an away Champions League game and get unprecedented access to the players. Even if you’re not a football fan it would be an amazing experience!

In the end there could be only one. Giovane Élber, the ex-Bayern Munich striker who is now an ambassador, was on stage to announce the big winner and bring to a close four days of coffee-induced madness. Though in end, it was less about who had won but more that the club had taken on this mammoth task, put so much effort into making it a success, developing relationships with the tech community and where this will go in the future. The club promise to continue working with those who wish to carry on honing their ideas and have the belief they can succeed. A great gesture.

But back to the winners. The overall champion was chosen by a panel that included Copa90’s Tom Thirlwall as well as Bleacher Report, FC Bayern and the University. And it was ‘Beat Adidas’ whose name it was that came out of the envelope, made up of five team members, two women and three men, who designed an app that will change Generation Z communications with the Adidas brand . The app docks on Adidas’ mobile online store, offering potential buyers a discount on the company’s products through short game challenges – about five jump squats within 15 seconds.

“We hardly slept in the four days – but the experience was great.”

All in all it was a great experience to see this in action and speak to those involved. They’ll be more discussion and insights in the coming days and weeks as we piece together the video and audio captured during my time there. And we’ll speak to Benjamin Stoll about what’s next for the programme and for the club… and when we can expect to see the Adidas app coming out!

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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