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Silicon Valley Group Turns Ideas Into Businesses


Almost anyone with a good idea and the ability to write directions for a computer software program can make products that were not possible before the internet.

But it is not enough to just have an idea. A team of people with different skills is necessary to turn that idea into reality.

Teams like this are often formed at an event called a hackathon.

Sabeen Ali is the founder and leader of a California company called AngelHack. It organizes hackathons around the world.

At a hackathon, she says, people with creative ideas can join with others to develop and write computer programs.

“A hacker is anyone that can take limited resources or be in any type of constraint -- time constraint, resource constraint, knowledge constraint -- and create something from nothing or something from very little.”

As a child, Sabeen Ali learned to live on very little money. Her parents were immigrants from Pakistan. Her father died when she was very young.

“I lived in a house with a single parent, three kids. And we had to figure out how to do a lot of things on our own.”

Ali said she used her childhood experiences to create her company.

“Somebody who works in a larger organization 9-to-5, building the same app, day after day, can come and build that thing that’s been keeping them up at night. Or somebody like me, who’s an entrepreneur, who has this amazing idea -- I know how to make money from it, I know all the customers and the clients, but I don’t have the tech resources to be able to put it together -- I needed this type of outlet and support and forum.”

Her business has organized hackathons in more than 90 cities throughout the world. Hackers form teams, and compete to win awards for the best idea and best product.

AngelHack works with a winner from each event for 12 weeks, helping them form companies and persuade people to invest money in their idea.

The top teams are brought to Silicon Valley, near San Francisco, where they present their idea to hundreds of possible investors.

Some teams helped by AngelHack have had great success. Investors gave one team $10 million. Two others were bought by Google, the technology company.

I’m Dorothy Gundy.

VOA Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reported this story from San Francisco. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

software – n. programs or processed involving or related to a computer system

resource – n. supplies or support; something that generally improves one’s quality of life

constraint – n. a controlling force; repression

entrepreneur – n. someone who organizes and launches a business

amazing – adj. surprising

outlet – n. an opening; a way to release something

forum – n. a public place; a center for open discussion

collaborative – adj. of or related to jointly working with others

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