DSM Hack 2015

The weekend of February 26th I had an opportunity to participate in DSMHack which is a Des Moines Iowa based event bringing 80 technical folks to help 10 non-profit organizations. A group of 8 of us from Principal partnered with Teens Against Human Trafficking, an organization founded in Iowa, whose mission is to raise awareness about human trafficking through the powerful voice of young people. Not only did this mission inspire us but the founder Lexi who is just 18 years old was awesome to work with with an amazing vision.

Before opening pitches on Thursday, we were discussing the various non-profit companies and debated about this one in particular. If you ever seen Slumdog Millionaire this film presents some grueling, gut wrenching scenes that made you ask yourself if you could get deep and learn more about this topic. Once Lexi made her pitch, we all knew that her passion would propel us over this hump.

This event wasn't to win an award or pick the coolest technology, it was to provide solutions for the non-profits. We all knew that we were going to walk away from the weekend as winners just as though we were playing t-ball. We also wanted to scope work to be completed so that we could provide a solution that Teens Against Human Trafficking could run with once we were done.

TAHT wanted a complete site redesign that was specifically targeted towards their audience. This required us to make it simple, responsive, fast and design it to appeal to teens. We landed on wordpress which was unfamiliar territory for a group of developers that liked to have control. This was a huge hurdle to begin with trying to understand coexisting in an development environment, theme it and think about longer term maintenance of the site.

Once we got rollin, got past our rusty php skills and dns troubles, we did great! Below is the high level features we delivered:

  • New domain - http://www.letsgetangry.org/
  • New website redesign
  • Mobile/responsive view capabilities
  • Secure content features
  • Focused on teens as a targeted audience
  • Online donation and shopping with Square
  • Online email form
  • Updated education
  • Migrated existing content
  • Added analytics to the site

Learned about:

The 48 hours we donated was insignificant to the impact these non-profits make in the communities around the world - they do the real work while I sit and punch a keyboard. Thanks to all the event volunteers, participants, sponsors and non-profits. We had great food, beer and company.

"There are 27 MILLION people in the world that are victims of human trafficking"

Final presentation

Warning: We were exhausted!

Photos from the event

DSM Hack 2015 Lexi

DSM Hack 2015 Group

DSM Hack 2015 Ready Break

DSM Hack 2015 Lets Get Angry Web

DSM Hack 2015 Working Together

DSM Hack 2015 Working