"I found my boyfriend at a Hackathon"

On a lazy Bangalore afternoon, I was scrolling down my Facebook news feed, when I saw this post by Kasey Robinson.

Kasey_Facebook

 

I had never heard of such a thing. Forget finding love in the club, finding love at a Hackathon is unheard of! I had to know more about this story, so I reached out to Kasey, who was more than happy to share. A few days later, I got on a Google hangout with Kasey Robinson and Mark Wang and got to know their story. I found it very inspiring.

Not only are they adoring lovers, they are also co-founders of a startup.

Like Music and Lyrics - Design and Code

It was interesting that the two of them don’t come from computer science backgrounds. Mark is a Math PhD dropout and Kasey is an arts major. Mark didn’t like his PhD course and he dropped out, deciding to go to tech and started going to a lot of hackathons.

Kasey lived in Oakland, California, and was apprehensive about moving to San Francisco as most people there were in tech. She had, however, learned some code in her childhood and could design. Equipped with these skills, Kasey went across the famous bridge, into the epicenter of tech and startups.

Work on ideas after the Hackathon! Possibilities are endless

Kasey first met Mark at a Hackathon. She said, “I saw him first pitch the idea and I knew he was going to win it, which he did. And I thought he was really cute. After the Hackathon, we worked on the project for about three months.”

This is one of those rare instances where a team that met at a hackathon chooses to work on the hack after the event. Kasey said, “I used to think it was a common thing, but apparently it isn’t. We were one of the exceptions in that regard.”

Mark shared that the two of them worked as co-founders for three months, before starting to get attracted to each other. He said, “As co-founders of a startup, you’re spending a lot of time together. In the early days, it was almost 8-9 hours a day, and I really started to get to know her. It was really interesting, because Kasey and I met at a time when we both wanted a career and a life change.”

Kasey and Mark have been dating for almost 9 months now.

Kasey and Mark

Separating work and personal lives

When a couple runs a startup, the dynamics of being a couple sometimes affects the dynamics of being co-founders. And it is hard to distinguish. Mark is very frank about the difficulty. He says, “It is hard to keep the two separate as the emotional part of the relationship keeps coming into play. The key is to be very understanding.”

Kasey mirrors mark’s thought. She says, “When you’re working on a startup, you’ve got to be as lean and efficient as possible. And there will be times where you’re going to have to put a tough point across and that might play into the power dynamics of the relationship too. I think at the end of the day, you’ve just got to be mature.”

Both Kasey and Mark believe that being co-founders has truly made things a lot faster for them. Kasey says, “We’ve been dating for about the last 9 months and through all this time, we’re spending almost 20 hours a day with each other. We’re really gotten to know each other and in a sense, this startup journey has been a good test for our relationship.”

Mark adds, “There are a few successful startup couples out there - like Kevin and Julia Hartz, the co-founders of Eventbrite, whom we got to interact with in a previous startup venture. You quickly get to know each other's likes and dislikes and when you’re spending so much time with each other, you’ve really got to like the other person to make it work.”

“Just include a lot of humor and sarcasm and it should be just fine,” quipped Kasey.

Building something useful over something impressive

It almost seems like the duo’s startup journey has matured along with their relationship. Throughout the interview, I got a vibe that the two of them were a couple who were at peace with being each other, around each other, and that could have come without hard work.

Similarly, Mark shared how their startup journey has also matured. He says, “From wanting to build something to impress, our current focus is to build something that is useful.” The two are building an app via which you can show your appreciation to your friends. Mark says, “I can thank my girlfriend via the app and it really gives me a gratifying feeling and post launch I hope my other friends feel the same too.”

There’s no saying what a startup idea could become, but Kasey and Mark’s story is definitely one for the ages.

p.s. Update...they got married! And they have moved on from Savant Inc.

You never know; you could find your soulmate at a hackathon. Check this out.

 

About the Author

Raghu Mohan
Raghu is an engineering grad handles Marketing at HackerEarth. Prior to this, he was an editor at YourStory.com. When he’s not working, you can find him at the nearest music shop having a jam session.
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