Shelter Scotland Product Forge Hackathon


A room full of talented people spending 3 days and 3 nights side by side developing new business ideas, overcoming challenges and bonding - sound good?

Product Forge is back for its fifth edition to bring together student designers, developers, makers and marketers as well as graduates, freelancers and entrepreneurs for an unforgettable adventure between July 29th and 31st in Edinburgh. This hackathon is running on the theme of homelessness in partnership with Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity.

Participants form small cross-functional teams to work on a product prototype over a weekend. Everyone receives mentoring, meals and 24 hour access to the venue and the top ranking teams win support to help them develop their concept further.

Use this opportunity to develop your career, gain new skills, network with industry professionals, meet potential employers or even kick-start your own company!

Students, request a concession ticket here:


Kate Ho
Senior Product Manager, FreeAgent

Enthusiastic, quick-learning UX designer turned Product Manager at FreeAgent. Kate has previously worked on MyGovScot, the Scottish Government's digital service designed for people in Scotland to access public services that are easy to find and simple to use.

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Danielle Rowley
Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer

Danielle is new to Shelter Scotland, having started in June as Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer. She will be helping to carry out Shelter Scotland’s upcoming homelessness campaign, working with service users, politicians, our local city hubs and other stakeholders. Danielle previously worked at ACOSVO and has a background in journalism, politics and third sector membership organisations.


Conrad Rossouw
Digital Manager at Shelter Scotland

Conrad Rossouw is currently the Digital Manager for Shelter Scotland. Conrad manages a 5 person digital team, developing and implementing the charity's digital strategy and managing their social media channels. Conrad has over 10 years experienced in managing and ensuring the successful delivery of complex digital projects.


Tom Youll
Web Writer & Content Manager at Shelter Scotland

Tom has worked at Shelter Scotland for nearly 12 years, first as part of Rough Sleeper initiative where he worked across the hostels and drop-ins of Glasgow advising and advocating for people who were sleeping on the streets. Tom now works as a writer in the Digital team, where he makes sure that the content on Shelter Scotland Get advice pages is up-to-date and he has an active interest in the user journeys and usability of websites.


Keith Bartholomew
Senior Digital Officer

Keith works on digital team with Shelter Scotland overseeing projects, developing and maintaining the social media channels and handling the electronic communication.

Jamie McHale
Founder at Telaco

Founder of Edinburgh-based business consultancy Telaco, Saltire Fellow in Entrepreneurship. An entrepreneurial leader with a focus on strategy, technology and communications.

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Amy Hinchliffe
Designer at Everyone

Amy is a designer at Everyone, a digital agency based in Glasgow. Amy is passionate about applying creative thinking to problem solving and producing innovative design experiences.

Amanda Collins
National Marketing Communications Manager

Amanda’s background is in marketing for the software and engineering sectors covering everything from computational fluid dynamics to underwater wireless technology. She has been with Shelter Scotland for just over two and half years as National Marketing Communications Manager with a remit covering brand, communications and marketing in Scotland.



Michelle Caulfield
Events Coordinator

Events Coordinator for Product Forge. Irish born, moved to Edinburgh in 2016 after studying Event Management & PR in College.

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Megan Carlin
Events Designer

Edinburgh native and Napier graduate with a degree in Digital Media and two minors in Visual Communication and Mobile Media from the Hochschule Der Medien in Stuttgart.

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Answers to the most commonly asked questions about attending a Product Forge event.

  • What if I can't start on Thursday evening or attend all of the event?

    While we highly recommend attending all of the event, we understand that due to dependents, work or other commitments this isn't possible for all of our participants.

    The first thing to note is that participants can start the event late, either on Friday morning or Friday evening - in fact, we keep registration open until Friday 5pm.

    When you register you'll be asked when you can start, and late starting participants are supported by the mentors in forming new teams or joining an existing team.

    If there are other parts of the event you are unable to attend, the most important thing is to communicate this to your team and the lead mentor at the event so they can plan accordingly. This is an especially important issue to raise during team formation.

    One of the most important days is Sunday, where we have pitch run-throughs. We do ask that if you want to present to the audience on Sunday evening, that you attend the whole of Sunday in order for the mentors to help you develop your presentation.

  • What is the situation with Intellectual Property (IP) at your events?

    We should stress that we are not lawyers or a law firm, and if you have concerns or specific issues, you should seek your own independent legal advice.

    However, neither Product Forge or our partners hold any IP rights to your project developed at the event, unless you have made a specific agreement to the contrary, and no such agreement is required to participate. The default situation is that you own what you build, and the default will hold true for almost all our participants; you will know if it doesn't.

    It should be noted that ideas are presented in an open forum on Sunday, and given that ideas are not inherently protected (in the same way that your code, brand or other creative output is), you might consider this when deciding what to share at the event. That said, it's our firm belief that projects are best developed in the open with external feedback, and most entrepreneurs err too much on the side of caution in this respect.

    With regard to IP issues within a team, one of the reasons we have strict limits on team sizes is that it is much easier to come to an agreement on IP after the event when there are a limited number of contributors. We can direct you to support after the event to help you with this.

    We strongly encourage project partners to release any data or source code that they are providing to our participants under an open source, commercially friendly licence (e.g. BSD/MIT, OGL, Creative Commons Attribution Only). Where this is not possible, there may be specific agreements required between you and our project partners to gain access to these resources, and such agreements may include clauses relating to your IP; however, you will not be required to access these resources in order to participate at the event.

  • What happens to projects after the event?

    That's entirely up to you - you own what you build, and it's up to you how you would like to see it taken forward, or not. However we hope that as many teams as possible will continue development of their projects, or pass them over to someone else to keep them going.

    We'll help you connect with support after the event, and in some cases our project partners can provide access to funding.

    In terms of what actually has happened after a Product Forge, in the past teams have gone on to secure funding for their concept, or worked with one of our partners as a collaboration. In some cases they haven't pursued their initial idea, but are continuing to work on other projects together.

    It's a common critisism of events like ours that whilst they are lots of fun, nothing long term comes out. We've demonstrated time and again that this isn't the case at Product Forge.

  • Why are you charging when other hackathons are free?

    Most hackathons run over 24 hours - ours last over three days and nights and the venue is kept open around the clock.

    Due to the costs of running an extended event and the problems of no-shows and drop-outs when providing complimentary tickets, we ask participants to pay a small cover charge to ensure they're fully committed.

    Even on the basis of meals alone, we feel the tickets are more than value for money. Students can also apply for a concession of up to 80%, and in some circumstances, travel reimbursements can be provided.

    However, most people come to Product Forge to learn, or to prototype a new idea. At the end of the weekend you will have had hours of support and mentorship, and whatever you build is yours - neither Product Forge or our partners will hold any IP rights to your project.

  • Is Product Forge a hackathon?

    One of our past participants said that Product Forge was the "hackathon with a twist!" What did they mean by that?

    Whilst we incorporate many of the same elements of a hackathon as you'd expect - the intensity of the experience, developing a technical prototype - we also expect our participants to consider the business case behind what they're building.

    This, in our opinion, is the essence of product development, and closer to the experience you would have working in a startup.

  • I am not technical, will I have anything to contribute?

    Yes, absoutely - Product Forge isn't just about the developers! In fact, 50-60% of the participants at Product Forge are not technical, and are there instead to contribute business, design or other specialist knowledge.

    Whatever your background you'll find something to contribute, and we'll have mentors on hand to help you collaborate effectively with your team.

  • Is this only for students, am I too old?

    No! Product Forge is open to all, and whilst it used to be true that the majority of our participants were university undergraduates, this is no longer the case. Most participants at Product Forge are subject matter experts, freelancers and other professionals.

    Due to other commitments you may not want or be able to attend into the early hours like some of the student participants - that's completely understandable, and we just ask that you attend the team check-ins and communicate your availability to us and your team-mates.

  • Do I need to have an idea to come to the event?

    No, not at all! We'll be providing plenty of support and inspiration to get you thinking creatively, and ideas are developed as teams.

  • What if I already have a team, or what if I don't and I don't know anyone?

    Team formation happens at the event, and you don't need to know anyone else who is going. You'll quickly meet new people!

    Whilst you're welcome to attend the event with someone that you'd like to work with, we actively encourage participants to work with people they don't know. We also have strict guidelines on team size and teams need to have a balance of skills.

  • What do I need to bring?

    We provide the food and drink, so all that is absolutely required is a laptop and lots of enthusiasm!

    If you're intending to stay late or sleep at the venue, please bring a sleeping bag, toiletries and a change of clothes.

    You may also want to consider bringing business cards and/or copies of your CV if you're hunting for work.

  • Do you have a code of conduct policy?

    Yes, we have a code of conduct for which all attendees at our events are expected to abide by.



Join our community

Members receive complimentary tickets to Product Forge events, full access to our Slack community, and exclusive content and support.

Existing members

Please email us at [email protected] and we'll send you a private registration link.

Basic terms

Please note that complimentary tickets are subject to availability; you must be a member at the time of registration and attendance; membership renews on a monthly or annual basis; at this time members must be 18 or over.