Highlights from a 24-hour Hackathon

Hundreds of hackers gathered to crank out new apps over the weekend at TechCrunch

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Programmers and designers swarmed in Manhattan this weekend, gathering in a cavernous, echoing hall. They had 24 hours to build something, anything, with keyboards and code. Most carried laptops. Some brought desktop computers, complete with multiple display monitors and ergonomic keyboards. Others toted sleeping bags and cots, not that they would get much use.

The hackathon, which lasted from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, kicked off TechCrunch Disrupt New York, a three-day conference for startups. The best three hacks got to present during the week, but sponsors also handed out more tangible prizes, including an iPad box with US $1000 cash inside.

Of the hundreds who showed up, about half of the hackers made it through the whole night.  Hack teams submitted and presented their projects: web, iPhone or Android apps. The panel of judges and sponsors sat through 92 exhibitions. Sponsors awarded their winners, and the judges picked their top three hacks:

First Place: Thingscription, a group of websites that sell anything on subscription, from saw blades to diapers

Second Place: Poachbase, a web app that helps employers steal engineers and CEOs from dying start-ups

Third Place: PractiKhan, a site for teachers to build custom quizzes and lesson plans


Jeffery Bennet: Let the hacking begin.

Jeffery Bennet: It is 24 hours to build something from scratch. And you know that’s it. That’s what’s doing the talking for you. And it’s this Acham’s razor, duct tape, just get it up and working.

Svetlana Reznick: This is my first hackathon. So I’m just excited to be here, seeing what this is like. It’s pretty cool.

Peter Verrillo: I’m all ready to go. We’ve got cots in case we get tired. We’re going to pop out some cots, get some sleeping bags on them, get a couple hours of sleep if we need to. Because it’s going to be a long day tomorrow.

Jeffery Bennet: So I’m very excited for tomorrow’s competition. There’s always awesome stuff that comes out of it and it’s just so amazing to think that one day prior to seeing it, it just didn’t exist in the world.

Text: 18 Hours Later

Jeffery Bennet: It’s 8:47 in the morning and we’ve been here all night.

Peter Verrillo: A bunch of groups have dropped out I think. They got tired or maybe they just finished early. We did some crazy stuff, but these guys are really good. The guys stayed up all night and it’s turning out great.

Cem Kozinoglu: This was good because having a start up you constantly work on your startup and you never have time to work on side projects. So we said why don’t we come here, spend 24 hours, try to get as much as we can done, and get some market research acceptance. Maybe people are going to like it. Maybe people are going to hate it. What we are trying to do is we are trying to actually figure out which places you go, where your friends go, and depending on that give you a score: a VIP score. So we can find your VIP appeal in comparison to your friends.

Kivanc Anar: We had no idea. We were brainstorming, and we ended up deciding around 6 p.m. WhisperYou, in basic words, is scheduled voice message system. Basically you schedule your voice message and it delivers it. It was like a 13-hour process.

Jeffery Bennet: We are going to open the submission form in 15 minutes. We’ll see who the true hackers of the evening are.

Text: The Presentations
            92 Hack Teams

Jeffery Bennet: So up next we have number 42. We have number 26. We’ve got number 38.

Text: And the Winner . . .

Jeffery Bennet: And that one was Thingscription. Congratulations. And that’s it. We made it. Congratulations everybody.

Text: But the Creepiest Hack Goes to . . .

Oliver: Hi, I’m Oliver.

Sam: And my name’s Sam. And we are complete strangers.

Oliver: So last night I met a cute girl at the bar. And today I want to see if she’s as cute as I remembered her. But we’re not Facebook friends.

Sam: My girlfriend just broke up with me. And de-friended me on Facebook.

Oliver: So we both joined Stalkbook. And now, I can see the cute girl’s profile with Sam’s credentials.

Sam: And I can stay up to date on what my ex is doing with Oliver’s credentials. Stalkbook: Not a friend? Not a problem!