As we look ahead to post-COVID recovery, we cannot lose sight of the impact the last 15 months have had on small businesses. The abrupt pivot in early 2020 to an almost exclusively digital economy exposed crucial vulnerabilities for many small businesses. Small scale restaurants, salons, gift shops — retailers of every type– had to reinvent themselves again and again. As a result, small businesses of every variety have adopted new business models, platforms, products and services.

Ascend and #ExpeditionHacks invite innovative, socially conscious students and professionals from any school or industry to compete in this year’s Impact Challenge. Help us put resilience into concrete action by formulating a solution to the following challenge:

Learning from the pandemic, how can small businesses increase their resilience to withstand, adapt, and thrive in the face of future shocks?

Questions to consider might include:

  • Moving beyond curbside pickup and online orders, what aspects of doing business during the pandemic should a small business retain post-pandemic?
  • How can small businesses leverage aspects of the pandemic economy to turn this disruption into opportunity?
  • What efforts could large companies undertake to help small businesses become more resilient?
  • Develop an idea to create/improve support networks for small business owners.
  • How might a business that failed during the pandemic re-start or re-make itself post pandemic?
  • How can we alter the in-person experience to promote consumerism at small businesses?
  • How can a small business effectively combine both in-person and digital experiences that can withstand future disruptions?



Submissions must reflect the original work of the project team alone. Submissions must consist of the following components:

  • Written application via DevPost
  • Video pitch (No more than 60 seconds)
  • Prototype (optional)

Please adhere to the deadline for submissions above. This deadline is to give the judges time to review submissions before the competition. Submissions should be submitted via DevPost 

The top 10 teams will present their submission on August 27 for the judging panel.


A video presentation is acceptable, however, at least one team member must attend the live virtual event to be available to answer questions. Teams will have a total of 5 minutes to present their idea to the judges and 2 minutes for Q&A. Your team’s 60 second video pitch may be included as part of your presentation but is not required.

Hackathon Sponsors


$8,500 in prizes


Winners will be selected on August 27, 2021 by a panel of judges. Projects will be evaluated based on the criteria outlined below. Winning teams must designate one team member who is able to receive the prize(s) on behalf of the team.

Each Member will also receive an EA Game


Apple Watches for each team member. Each Member will also receive an EA Game

THIRD PLACE: Amazon Gift Cards

$200 Amazon Gift Cards for each team member.


$100 GrubHub Gift Cards for each team member.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


Kristie Curameng Bradford

Kristie Curameng Bradford
Director, Intellectual Property / IBM

Jennifer Jao

Jennifer Jao
IT Executive | IT Experiences / TOYOTA

Roger Park

Roger Park
Americas Innovation Officer / EY

Kajal Gupta

Kajal Gupta
SVP, Small Business Segmentation & Strategy / Bank of America

Sandra Black

Sandra Black
Vice President, Solution Engineering / Salesforce

Brian Pang

Brian Pang
Development Director, Electronic Arts

Judging Criteria

  • Impact
    How impactful is this solution?
  • Scalability
    What is the potential for scalability? How costly wouldthis solution be to bring to scale?
  • Creativity
    How original is this solution? Does it set itself apartfrom other solutions through innovative or non-traditional methods?Does it demonstrate outside-the-box thinking?
  • Design
    Is this solution thoughtful and complete? Is thestrategy appropriate?

Questions? Email the hackathon manager

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