Hi, I’m Bryan, a designer who always dreamt of also being an animator. Attending GiveBackHack last year helped catapult me to achieving this dream, and I’m going to tell you how it happened. But first, let me re-introduce myself: Hi, I’m Bryan, a designer and an animator.

Let’s start back in 1995 when I first saw Toy Story in theaters: The lights in the theater dimmed down amid growing parental concern that my 7-year-old bladder couldn’t possibly handle the ICEE I had swiftly consumed during the previews. The screen began to glow light blue, a now-famous lamp started hopping across the screen, and all focus was diverted for the next 81 minutes. I’ve had a love affair with animation ever since. Who wouldn’t!? It was unlike anything I’d ever seen! I was so enamored with the story I didn’t even think about how I was watching animated pixels, that I was relating on powerful level to talking toys, or how that ICEE situation never got resolved.

Fast-forward 15 years, I started working in design. I had taken a few animation courses in school, but day-to-day I was working with branding, print design, and UI/UX design. A few years into my career I started a job where our team would make a weekly video update for the business. The motion graphics quickly became my playground, rekindling my love for animation. The freshly-unboxed animation skills worked very nicely with all of those interfaces I had been designing and I began to animate them.

I attended Startup Weekend for the first time in 2015, taking my freshly- expanded design and animation toolbox to see what I could do. Over the weekend I created a prototype and a video for the team I worked on, but more importantly I met a lot of cool people from the startup community, including Justin Foley. Justin is an amazing developer with an incredible acumen for business strategy and development. After Startup Weekend, Justin and I kept in touch and realized we were both planning to attend another, unique kind of hackathon: GiveBackHack.

At GiveBackHack, Justin and I joined Team Omnibus, an idea to create a real-time transit tracking app that would make buses as convenient as using Lyft or Uber. Over the weekend, our development team magically created a working version of the real-time tracking feature that the audience was able to use and interact with during our presentation. The business hustlers on the team validated and validated and validated, got the support of members of the Columbus transit community, collected all the data around the idea humanly possible, and created a clean, crisp, and articulate presentation that was sure to impress. So what was I up to? Animating, of course! With a mockups of the app complete, I created a prototype of the future-state Omnibus app to be included in the promo video we showed during our pitch.

Firing on all cylinders, we felt like Team Omnibus was using the BUS ONLY lane during rush hour. With pitches complete and judging decided, we hadn’t been called up for crowd-favorite, then passed third place, then another third place, then both second place slots. The excitement started to leave as our odds dwindled, then the floor dropped out on us as we heard “OMNIBUS” announced as the winners!

Following the win, I was approached by a few people in the audience about working on similar animation and design projects for their businesses. What! Why!? It was unexpected and very cool. Justin graciously helped me with how to form a business and I began running my one-person animation and design firm. I had done it, I was a professional animator!

The next big step came when Justin reached out to me to join some of the best designers and developers I know at ModWeb, a team of collaborators creating awesome experiences using digital media and the web.

In the year since attending GiveBackHack, I am in awe of the dedication and determination of the seven wonderful people I worked with on Team Omnibus, I own my own business, and I have the pleasure of working alongside some extremely talented people on a daily basis.

You’ve probably noticed, but buying a ticket to GiveBackHack actually changed my life. You’ll meet the best, most passionate people who will most likely become your best, most passionate friends and business partners. You’ll also have the opportunity to create real change in the community through social impactful ideas. If that’s not enough, you even get a t-shirt, seven meals, swag, and a great story to tell your coworkers on Monday!