Sarah-Jane Morris | Technical Writer and Developer Community Manager
November 27, 2012

Hack Grads: Hacks that Graduated from Weekend Hackathon to App Store

 

The Mashery Developer Outreach team is always heading out to hackathons and tech events. They have gone to over 60 in 2012 and the year isn’t over yet. We love to see what developers are capable of building in a weekend, or even a day!

Projects at these events are typically are limited in scope. Team building, education and fun are what draws hackers to attend.

While we’re often blown away with the quality of these hacks, once the event has come to a close, teams usually walk away having forged new bonds and new brain cells, but not necessarily the next big startup. 

Every now and then, a hack emerges that is truly disruptive - like the winner of TechCrunch’s Hack Disrupt hackathon in 2010, GroupMe.  Their app allows groups to collectively text via SMS (powered by our friends at Twilio) without needing to exchange phone numbers. This app solved a real problem and went on to be acquired by Skype (who was ultimately acquired by Microsoft) for hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Mashery has seen it’s fair share of hacks graduate from weekend team-building projects to market-ready apps.  Here are some of our favorites: 

The Klout Chrome extension, which was born at the Klout/Bit.ly Groundhacks Day in February 2011, uses the Klout API to place an influence score next the people you follow when visiting Twitter.com. It went live on the Chrome Web Store shortly after its creation and now boasts over 66,000 users. 

ESPN recently launched their SportsCenter Feed web app as the result of an internal hackathon. The app allows sports fans to create a personalized feed of sports news that’s most meaningful to them. Read all about it on PandoDaily!

The team from Discovr met the Rovi Cloud Services team at the SXSW Circus Mashimus lounge in 2011, and then integrated their search API in their app in the iOS App Store. With 3 million users strong, Discovr’s apps are a high profile example of how APIs can scale quickly and securely.

Find Me Hotel Deals was born at API Hackday Austin in February 2011 using the Hotwire API to show users great, local hotel offers.

Rotten Boxes was created at CodeFaire Nashville in August 2012 using the Redbox and Rotten Tomatoes APIs, allowing users to find the closest films available at Redbox locations and sort them by Rotten Tomatoes rankings. 

Qup.tv sends users targeted Netflix suggestions via email, and was born at Hack The Midwest in June 2012 using Netflix API, and covered in GigaOm shortly thereafter. 

APIs are allowing innovative ideas to move from conception to reality. They help connect developers with data sets they wouldn’t otherwise have access and speed up development time by providing direct access to time-saving code abstractions. Hackathons are a great starting point to demonstrate how quickly APIs can help turn an idea into a legitimate, problem solving tool.