It’s 12:49 am at the TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing Hackathon; Unlike any other hackathon I’ve attended, the late night hacker snacks here take the prize for unique brain fuel. They include Tea Eggs, Italian Red Meat Flavor potato chips, Yanjing beer, Apples, and Pokki sticks. Other differences? Well I’m writing this through a VPN because WordPress is blocked, and I’m probably going to have to go back to the hotel room to finish because the Internet keeps crapping out half way in the middle of my post.
Despite it being a hard day’s night basically, there are about 100 intrepid programmers still here at the CNCC conference center in the Olympic Village, working all through the night with the fervor of well, programmers. Despite the lack of Red Bull. And Internet.
So why are they still here? I asked MadeToFitMe’s Alex Duncan, “To beat those mother*ckers,” he said, gesturing to the competition all around him. Duncan’s hack, Cityfight, allowed cities like Beijing and Shanghai to “fight” against each other with the amount of support messages they receive from constituents.
“We’re here for the food,” said the team behind iTrust, an online reputation management system . “Cause it’s fun,” said startup founder — and former Palantir employee — Tian Li, “I can do this kind of stuff all night.” When asked what had changed in China’s startup scene since he left Palantir and Silicon Valley, he explained that increased media coverage and Chinese success stories had increased the amount of support in China, including but not limited to startup incubators and events: “Two years ago doing a startup wasn’t cool, it was below getting a job at Tencent.”
Success stories like Zuckerberg and Ma can sometimes get one through a patch of rough Internet, or a lack of a good night’s sleep. “Whether we win or not we’re going to just go on and try to make it happen,” said Acheeveit founder Nicky Szmala.
Okay, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to take a cue from that dude up there and go to bed.