Startup Hackathon 2011: the teams

This weekend I had the pleasure of witnessing the outcome of another successful startup weekend this time under the name Startup Hackathon organised by Amir Nissen, one of Melbourne’s prolific entrepreneurial activists. Nathan Sampimon and Steve Hopkins provided mentorship to the participants on how to brainstorm, focus and get a product built fast.

What I always like about startup camps is the ideas people come up with. The ideas varied from the simple ‘scratching your own itch’ ones to a few game changers, and the inevitable wacky ones! But because this was a developer event, it was always going to be the most interesting what the final results were in terms of getting an app working.

These were all the teams:

Rate Your Lecturer, an application for students to rate their lecturers and have the results sent back to the Uni. The application was fully working and I successfully rated a lecturer, not that I ever went to RMIT or took any lecture. While the demonstration lingered a little bit too long in the registration/login pages the presenter was good as they had a little fun with the audience. My award: best presentation.

Read a Chunk allows users to submit a book and have it sent to them by email at a set pace, for example, one page at a time. One of those simple ideas that was implemented on a weekend. I would really like to see this idea combined with content, so I don’t have to upload my own book but can buy a title. My award: best simple idea.

Stale Ale aims to provide a marketplace for alcoholic beverages that is past its due date. My award: best wild idea

Janus Jobs is aiming to provide a platform for job sharing. It has three audiences: employers that have sharable jobs, people that want to share their job and then users who want to share in someone’s job. The team appeared to be confident that this is could work and if anything that’s good spirit! My award: best big idea.

WhereDoIStart aims to help people overcome writer’s block by providing little snippets of information from across the internet. This is probably the application I thought was going to be too much work for a weekend but the team has demonstrated great ability not to get side tracked. My award: best developer focus.

BitBuyText provides a mobile interface to buy bitcoins instantly. Kind of surprised this didn’t exist yet! My award: most obvious idea.

Foghorn is an Android app that tries to wake you up by surprising you with new alarm sounds. Funny application with good name to match. One of those crazy mobile apps that may just stick. My award: funniest idea

Ping2HQ is a beautiful application that lets you track others. Could be used by parents to see where their kids are but also for hospitals to see where ambulances may be at. While there are a lot of similar apps out there, full credit to the team on what they have built in a weekend. It is an intuitively designed application leveraging the good looks of the Aristo jQuery library and the Google Maps API. The demonstration included someone walking out with their iPhone emitting their location. My award: best application design tries to fix the age old problem of boredom. With a simple app, they attempt to crowdsource things to do given some of your interests. My award: best simple application

Teaddict, a site where you can find the next place to drink the best tea, with integration into existing social networks. They leveraged WordPress plugins to achieve a fully working social web application.

(If anyone knows the URLs of the applications below please let me know, would love to try them)

LookingAtYouNow tries to leverage the favourite MX (Melbourne’s free publication for public transport) section to the internet where people publicly comment on others. We can now see what stalkers actually get up to!

Compare2Save promises to show you places around you where you can get products the cheapest.

FindMyTime will help you plan your due dates of your assignments around your other tasks.

This weekend was exclusively for students and if I can compare startup camps for students and let’s call it ‘the older crowd’, is that students tend to be much less inhibited by convention. This has showed both in the choice of ideas as well as the implementation. Another interesting difference: I don’t think any application was built using one of the popular MVC frameworks for the web, which surprised me somewhat; in contrast I think almost every app from StartupCamp Sydney IV was built in Ruby on Rails. [Update: Ping2HQ used the Java based Play! framework]

Finally, the best part of this particular event was that it was only for developers. Being a developer myself and yes I’m totally biased, let me just say that this was a great idea. Developers will be (if not already) the core of every new business. Yes, I know, you also need to be able to sell. But you need something to sell. The age where you can sell snow to Eskimos is well and truly over and you need to have products that people love. It all starts with the people that can actually build something, no passengers!

Congratulations to all the organisers, participants and sponsors for creating another memorable startup event!