Your Chance to Disrupt a $4B Dollar Industry!

The second annual worldwide RootsTech Innovator Showdown is back and even bigger than before. Leverage the power of social, and turn your ideas into cash. Innovators of all kinds in any industry are invited to compete with their latest hardware and software apps and services.

The top six finalists will be invited to demo live onstage for over 23,000 people at RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah, where a panel of renowned judges and the audience will decide the winners! Many will enter, but only one app will take home up to $30,000 in total cash prizes, plus $25,000 in in-kind prizes. Finalists will also benefit from hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of publicity. 

Family History Meets Social Media 

Not sure if your idea applies to family history? Consider this: you might not think Facebook does either, yet by nature it is the largest repository of family history images and content in the world. Many related industries and apps can benefit from a family history feature or focus, and you can earn a chance to win part of the $100,000 if you enter the challenge with your app right here!

Technology + Market = Innovation

Unlike many other challenges, RootsTech Innovator Showdown is looking for “cool tech” and a potential in the market (see criteria below). You will present your project in front of a live consumer audience as well as judges. The format is a lot like an investor pitch except that there is a consumer audience, and a business model should accompany your awesome project. If you have cool technology and feel you can make a strong case for its marketability, then this challenge is for you!

What is RootsTech?

RootsTech is the world’s largest family history conference, with over 23,000 attendees in Salt Lake City, Utah. Attendees include seasoned genealogists and individuals just getting started in family history. RootsTech also hosts the largest gathering of family history technology builders through a business and developer track called RootsTech Innovator Summit—a critical component of the RootsTech conference. The Innovator Showdown is designed to allow technology builders to compete for awards and showcase their innovations for the general attendees of RootsTech. All prize money comes from sponsors.

See the Showdown in Action

If you missed the inaugural showdown event that took place at RootsTech in February 2015, watch it in its entirety here, and read details about the winners here.


This challenge is open to Individuals (who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry); Teams of eligible individuals; and Organizations (up to 50 employees). 


Content: Your submission must include a working software application that solves a problem you've identified in any industry vertical, with features either directly or indirectly related to family history. The application should at least be a working prototype, and enable a social or collaborative activity.

Check out the Resources page for more ideas!

Platforms: Your submission must include a software component such as:

  • a native smartphone or tablet app (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile)
  • a web app or subscription service
  • a desktop app (Windows PC, Mac Desktop)
  • software running on other hardware (including, but not exclusive to, wearable technology, open source hardware, etc.)
  • custom hardware which includes a software component (wearable technology, etc.)

Supplemental Material: You must submit a 60-90 second demo video (hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, or Youku) that walks through the main functionality of the app via screencast or video. The goal of this video is not to walk through every feature in detail, but to provide a compelling overview of it's capabilities and convince judges of it's value in the market. Basically, you want to make a case that your app should make it to the final round!  You must also submit at least one image/screenshot of your working app. 

If you’re a finalist you’ll also need to prepare a 2-minute pitch to deliver to the judges and audience (including a demo, business model, etc.) Pro Tip: Use your submission demo video to as a draft of your finalist pitch, just don’t forget to demo your app!

Testing: You must make your app available for no charge to judges for evaluation during the judging periods.

Hackathon Sponsors


$100,000 in prizes

Judges Choice 1st Place

$20,000 cash and $25,000 in-kind*

Judges Choice 2nd Place

$14,000 cash and $15,000 in-kind*

Judges Choice 3rd Place

$6,000 cash and $10,000 in-kind*

People's Choice

$10,000 cash
*In-kind prizes may include consulting, mentoring, development, marketing, co-location services, accounting services, and/or legal services.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

  1. Click “Register” to sign up for important challenge communications.
  2. Visit the Resources page to learn about the some potential problem areas and available data/API resources
  3. Review the judging criteria.
  4. Create your app!
  5. Shoot your demo video and take screenshots of your functioning app.
  6. Provide a way for us to access your app. 
  7. Get started on your draft and submit early!


Amy Rees Anderson

Amy Rees Anderson
Managing Partner, REES Capital; Contributor, Forbes and The Huffington Post

Judy G. Russell

Judy G. Russell
JD, CG, CGL, The Legal Genealogist

David Bradford

David Bradford
Chairman of the Board of FluentWorlds

Dennis Brimhall

Dennis Brimhall
Former CEO, FamilySearch International

D. Joshua Taylor

D. Joshua Taylor
MA, MLS, President and Executive Director of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B)

Judging Criteria

  • A social app
    Submissions must enable a social or collaborative activity.
  • Family History
    Submissions must be directly or indirectly related to family history. (for example: facebook is indirectly the largest repository of family history content today, even though it may not have been originally designed with that in mind.
  • Quality of Idea
    Includes creativity and originality.
  • Implementation of Idea
    Includes how well the idea was executed by the developer.
  • Potential Impact
    Will users get excited about this, is it applicable, does it solve a genuine problem?

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