There were a few factors that made hackNY’s fourth intercollegiate hackathon the one to beat.
First, the much-loved local fellowship program got ambassadors from the likes of Pivotal Labs, Foursquare, Code Academy, Twilio and Google (“But I’m not here officially,” said the rep who shall not be named) to hold office hours during the hackathon. They were on hand to help bleary-eyed hackers running on
In the first hour alone, we learned about a stealth New York startup with some big name clients and an upcoming Turntable.fm party. Add in some humorous contestants (“It’s its like Chatroulette, but without the dicks!” was one memorable tagline) and some familiar judges (David Tisch, Chris Dixon, Charlie O’Donnell, Khoi Vinh) and it made Betabeat wish we’d stayed up all night too. Well, not really, but close enough.
As Mike Swift explained, the Hacker League came about after he and his fellow co-founders, Ian Jennings and Abe Stanway, found themselves seeing the same people again and again at every hackathon. To keep track of the usual hackathon suspects, prevent good hacks from being lost, or people from cheating with the same hack at multiple events, the trio put together a social network of sorts. All the students attending had a chance to submit a profile with links to, say, their GitHub page or personal website and upload their hacks. When the site was up–hey, it’s still in alpha–it also broadcast vital info like where to find the demo livestream or when the shwarma delivery showed up. Mr. Swift, who’s working for TechStars finalist CrowdTap, said Hacker League is in the running for Lean Startup.
We can’t say much about the stealth startup, Parse.ly and its Dash platform for publishers, which officially launches next month, except that co-founder and CTO Andrew Montalenti showed us a demo and we really, really want to start using it on Betabeat, like yesterday. And after hearing some of the big name publishers they’ve signed up as beta clients, its clear we’re not the only ones. Thankfully, Mr. Montalenti offered to let us come by and see his standing desk at the ff ventures ergonomic new office space in the interim.
As for the party, mark November 17th on your Google Calendars. Rebecca Zhou, a former HackStar that we recognized from the TechStars reality show, is organizing Raise Cache (get it??). It’s a party/mixer/fashion show with the goal of drumming up $100,000 for hackNY. If that doesn’t sell you, how about the fact that Moot himself is going to walk in the fashion show and that party is being DJ’d via Turntable.fm.
Popular themes for the hacks themselves appeared to be ordering in food without moving an inch and solutions to help ladies evade “creepers.” You can view the full API list, including Tumblr, Twitter, Parse.ly, Hyperpublic, Bit.ly, and Etsy, as well as all the hacks here. But you really only care about the winners, don’t you?
3rd Place: LoCreep,”like a LoJack for creeps!,” which lets women offer the LoCreep group phone number instead of their own, mock the offender with her friends on LoCreep.com to “stir his game up,” and then “when they believe that hilarity has reached optimal level, export all activity to public Tumblr” and print out a QR code to slap on his back.
2nd Place: AdRunner, which makes an addictive game out of dodging ubiquitous online ads. The punishment for losing? You go to the page of the ad that tripped your epic run. One of the creators had been playing all night, and got pretty good at it.
1st Place: MidiPhon, which was created by two NYU music students who code on the side. The hack lets up to 16 performers control MIDI instruments through their phone and led to successful audience performance during the demo. Afterward, it sent a Bit.ly link to a recording of the “concert” to everyone that played. Wonder how long before they give up rock n’ roll for Startupland.
Betabeat would also like to award an honorable mention to YPNHOI, short for “You’ve Probably Never Heard of It,” to an app we’d probably download for kicks. According to the demo, it was founded on the “first rule of hipsterdom,” namely the fact that “coolness is indirectly related to popularity.” It attacks the problem that the first results in Foursquare or Yelp are often what’s most mainstream. You can enter in a venue and, based on the number of check-ins and reviews, the app will tell you “Is it still cool?” If it hasn’t yet been discovered by the norms, it gives you the option to create a misleading QR code or write a bad Yelp review to keep the tragically uncool at bay. As for the unwieldy moniker, YPNHOI, they were just following the hipster golden rule, “We chose a difficult name to remember for a reason.”