Improve small business customer service through innovation

Eastern Foundry and AWS are jointly organizing a hackathon focused on small business requirements. Public Spend Forum and FedTech are joining the effort.  The goal of this Hackathon is to produce platforms/tools/products that a wider community can leverage for the benefit of Small Businesses.

AWS brings natural language processing, speech recognition, text-to-speech, and machine translation within the reach of every developer. Application services by AWS enable developers to plug-in pre-built AI functionality into your apps without having to worry about the machine learning models that power these services.

Put your skills to the test and apply language and vision intelligence to a new or existing application! Use language and speech APIs including Amazon ComprehendAmazon TranscribeAmazon PollyAmazon Lex, and Amazon Translate to gain customer insights, and personalize customer service.

The Challenges:

1. When natural disasters strike, small businesses get impacted significantly. SBA offers various programs to help in such situations, and with this Hackathon challenge it aims to significantly enhance the quality of call/help center through voice/text based automation. The goal is to provide a faster/quicker/easier and more accurate customer service. These use cases are squarely aimed at Disaster Response & Assistance part of SBA’s charter:

  • Voice based (Alexa driven) automated customer service during Disaster Response
  • Text based (Mobile App driven) automated customer service during Disaster Response
  • Infuse GPS/Location data to provide for relevant answers

 2. SBA coordinates SBIR/STTR grants to encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D). This challenge is to produce a tool to help entrepreneurs, VC, and the govt. agencies to gain insights on:

  • Awardee companies’ probability of success based on various factors such as funding, technology, team size, and many more variables
  • Whether SBIR will meet awardee’s funding goals and improve the chances for success
  • Companies that use SBIR awards to create products (and economic value) vs companies whose business model is to win SBIRs
  • Principal Investigators (PIs) background and probability of success pre/post-award

Data Sources: Available in the form of APIs, unstructured data as well as semi-structured data


Hackathon Sponsors


$6,000 in prizes

First Prize

US$3,000 USD
US$2,500 AWS Promotional Credits*
Swag bag (for up to 5 team members)

Second Prize

US$2,000 USD
US$1,500 AWS Promotional Credits*
Swag bag (for up to 5 team members)

Third prize

US$1,000 USD
US$1,000 AWS Promotional Credits*
Swag bag (for up to 5 team members)

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

  1. Register for the Small Business Hackathon.
  2. Create an account on AWS.
  3. Learn about machine learning and serverless from AWS with documentation here in resources and consider inspiration on how to get started.


Maria Roat

Maria Roat
Chief Information Officer / Small Business Administration

Rafaela Monchek

Rafaela Monchek
Deputy Associate Administrator Office of Disaster Assistance U.S. Small Business Administration

Adam Zuckerman

Adam Zuckerman
Director - Ventures & Innovation / Discovery Inc.

Tien Wong

Tien Wong
CEO / Opus8 Inc

Cal Zemelman

Cal Zemelman
Director / CVP (Customer Value Partners)

Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson
WWPS Venture Capital & Startup Lead / AWS

Judging Criteria

  • Quality of the Idea
    (Includes creativity and originality of the idea)
  • Implementation of the Idea
    (Includes how well AWS machine learning services were leveraged by the developer)
  • Potential Impact
    (Includes the extent to which the solution can be widely useful)

Questions? Email the hackathon manager

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Hackathon sponsors

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