Technology sets limits for us while at the same time opening up solutions.

Benjamin Weber, information technology student at ETH and participant of the #SIXHackathon 2016.

Benjamin Weber, an information technology student at ETH, is passionate about taking part in hackathons. At the #SIXHackathon2016 Paymit workshop, he and his "TipIt" team were prizewinners.

What do you find so fascinating about hackathons?

One of the things I find fascinating is the aspect of innovation: some projects only arise because people from very different backgrounds are thrown together for a short space of time. I often think: what a complete brainwave! I'd never have thought of it myself. Another thing I like is the technological challenge. Technology sets limits for us while at the same time opening up solutions for us. Both of these things together – innovation and technology – enable hackathon participants to put together entire prototypes in a few hours.  

How do you like the sprints, the typical way of working at a hackathon?
In everyday life I do not really have the opportunity to work in sprints. But I value this form of project development. It is instructive and perfect for testing out ideas. Sprints are definitely a reason why I take part in hackathons so often. But the key is completing the project. That means that we also need to remain realistic and to limit ourselves. Within the short space of time available, the idea has to be meaningful to the audience and the jury.

That sounds stressful. How do you cope with deadlines and lack of sleep?
Passion and perseverance help. Math has no room for errors. So you need to be tough anyway. I personally think that challenges help me grow. I find fulfillment in them. The journey is the reward, and sleep takes second place. At the end of it I am exhausted but I can look back with pride at what has been achieved.

How was your team set up at the #SIXHackathon2016?
I arrived with two colleagues who come from the technical side as I do. We were then lucky enough when we got there to meet a fourth person with skills in innovation management. We quickly hit upon the idea: the aim of "TipIt" – based on Paymit – is to make very small transactions easier – for the user and for the processing in the background.