EventsWashington D.C.Washington DC

Small Business Week Kicks Off with a Hackathon

Teams Hack Solutions to Help Businesses When Natural Disaster Strikes

When natural disasters strike, it can be completely devastating to a business. Running a business can be difficult when conditions are “normal” but natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina happen, it be nearly impossible for businesses to survive let alone thrive.

In 2017, natural disasters cost the US economy $307 billion and the cost and impact continue to be felt in 2019 as disasters like wildfires or hurricanes happen. Small businesses employ about 50% of private-sector workers and are the primary driver of jobs in the United States. So when disaster does strike, it becomes extremely important for these small businesses to rebound.

This year’s DC Hackathon is the second annual and its goal was to tap into the minds of developers, creatives and business owners to create solutions for small businesses that may have been impacted by major disasters. For National Small Business Week, the US Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA and VISA teamed up to create solutions for small businesses impacted by the devastating natural disasters.

The three-day hackathon gave participants access to API’s from FEMA, The Visa Developer Platform and business continuity planners to help them brainstorm and “hack” to create solutions that could allow small businesses to survive and thrive in the wake of a major disaster. Over 20 teams participated and while there were teams that won over $50,000, the real winners small businesses, employees and these economies that were affected by disasters.

The event kicked off May 3 and demos and winners were announced on May 5. Judges for the hackathon include SBA Chief Information Officer Maria Roat, Visa Vice President for Global Small Business Nate Smith, DC Market Editor Michelai Graham, and Janice Jucker, President of Three Brothers Bakery, a Houston small business that rebuilt in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Interview with David Simon of VISA


  • First place receiving $25,000: SnapShot, an app-based solution using bookkeeping APIs to help small businesses catalog their assets before a disaster, and then uses AI-based damage detection software to assess the value of damages through mobile photos.
  • Second place receiving $15,000: Disaster Recovery Score, this app solution digitally consolidates forms and disaster resources when filing for loans and claims. The app provided a disaster readiness score to determine a small businesses’s ability to recover from a natural disaster.
  • Third place receiving $10,000: Route7, an app using Amazon virtual assistant Alexa’s voice assistance and a visual recognition software to speed up the pre and post-inventory process.
  • Visa API Challenge Winner receiving $5,000: Disaster Recovery Score
  • API Winner receiving $5,000: SBAssist, a web platform that maps small businesses affected by federally and state declared disasters, giving users the ability to contribute to those businesses directly and receive social badges.


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