Impressions from TechCrunch SF Hackathon Part 2

TechCrunch hosted a hackathon before the 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt in SF this weekend.  Part one of this post deals with Hackathon logistics and presentations; Part 2 will be some quick thoughts on some of the ideas presented. Here are some of the overall impressions followed by tweet-length reactions to the 60-second presentations. You can see all the demos here and the top winners with videos and pics are available here.

Quick, top-line impressions:

  • Technologists often solve tech problems technically–often in Hackathon Presentations we see the emphasis in on the technology and enabling platforms, not the idea, and even with a clearly stated solution there’s an under-representation on the beauty/design/story-telling-quality creativity over functional execution. This is an opportunity for teams IMO.
  • General recognition that discovery is a central issue, not data availability–many of the apps at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon were about finding food, music, friends and even drinking buddies more easily demonstrating how much we’re in the early innings of this evolution of the platform
  • Notification/delivery is another common theme
  • Couple of good gamer hacks, but not many. Good way to infuse presentations and solutions w/entertainment.

Reactions to specific demos (did not see all of them yet, btw) in order of presentation:

  • Advise.ly—find advisors in linkedin. Actually really like this idea. Shows discoverablity issue in professional socialnets still has room to evolve
  • Nofacebook—puts sunglasses & sick mask over photos to anonymize/privacize–humorous solution to a small problem
  • Heat Data, Jason Shah, Product manager from Yammer—heatmap of how people navigate your mobile web before they click. Awesome. Really like this. Jason, if you’re reading, take this to MSoft’s analytics group or create a startup to make this happen. NOTE: Turns out I’m not alone in this thinking–Jason’s demo took runner-up #2 at the event
  • CardRoullette –who pays for dinner? Fun solution to ongoing issue of friends and acquaintances on who picks up the bill.
  • Bzzzz—restaurant pager system w/twillio API allowing for people to return at the right time (that’s 4Zs)
  • Appetize—avail for download on  iOS at appetize.com
  • Snapus.in—post phone # for on going comms w/event—totally anonymized–ephemeral CRM for conferences & meetups
  • Dream recorder—save voice memo into evernote, dropbox & ms skydrive–clever, but feels a lot like an IFTTT Recipe
  • Anonymous Feedback—use linked in to ask for honest feedback to allow for career growth—360-degree review IRL. Interesting if you can assure anonymity.
  • PhoneID—allows you to use phone to login to popular services
  • HackerBuddy—app that allows you to socialize w/other hackers at a hackathon to discover. It’s a real problem but couldn’t tell how well their hack solved it.
  • Spaceious—conversations around hashtags in a specific place
  • What’s Next Eat—locu to dropbox–humorous presentation inspiring this reaction from Menlo Ventures Servin Pishar: @Shervin Tweet
  • GiveGift—Finds friends birthday & lets you send them a photo gift using Fuji Film API
  • En Route w/Ford SYNC—nice voice notification in car to share Estimated Time of Arrival while enroute w/contacts
  • Things There—search/discovery leaning on ontology—w/Ford SYNC—based on needs/desires
  • Tag Maker—allows you to tag/ anything on web & create dynamic tag clouds
  • Project Care—become virtual guardian to the child, see other sponsors, watch child grow, etc. Love this & think they should take the idea to Hank Fortener’s AdoptTogether initiative to enrich features of this great cause
  • Healthly–Loco API to get menu items to suggest calorie intake
  • SquareMeals—restaurant discovery is still tough.
  • Play it Forward—good recognized & rewarded
  • Communly—aggregates hashtags, etc. “creating communities around hashtags” analytics & management platform
  • MenuGuru—geo-loco for restaurant using Locu API
  • Pic Smoosh—displays most loved photos largest across photo services–so the more likes, favs or <3s a picture gets in Facebook, Flickr or Instagram the larger they display in flow
  • Crunchfunnel—crunchbase API—sendgrid T-shirt,  Adria Richards—identify trending, growing companies to offer relevant services at right time
  • Memstash.co—altert system around data
  • LinkedOut—tough to find start-ups you love. How to align those w/interest? Maybe should connect w/LinkedOut to combine efforts.
  • BookRocket—finds relevant topical books based on expressed needs including previewing free books & buying from amazon
  • Twinfolder—open Dropbox—don’t need a Dropbox account to access, which is smart b/c you don’t need a Gmail account to get email, do you?
  • Poof—your experience at a specific location like a restaurant, store, etc. in a quick feedback app
  • GitUp—challenges posted to encourage others to join working out, getting up
  • Livebolt—AirBnB hardware hack–$60 lock allows you to key any door & unlock w/ipod/iphone. One of my Favs & also of the show judges as well–they took grand prize
  • iLikes– iLikes uses ethnographic approach for CPG/Retail product QA/Feedback–might have a place in Big Brand research
  • SurfTron—bringing big data to big waves using Locu API. Personally like this as something useful for a super-niche audience
  • Habu—voice command music by mood over Ford SYNC API–pretty cool layer over your music preferences. Heading to the gym? Get pumped up. Decompressing? Slow it down. Habu Music can do that.
  • SERIous Margaritas—Hardware Hacks—use Siri, Twillio & other APIs to trigger a blender for margraritas. Liquor is an easy way to get some points from judges.
  • Instamillions—angel-hack API for startups to find funding–see notes for CrunchFunnel & LinkedOut.
  • Miles—Neil Mansilla from Mashery pitching w/team to connect users w/similar interests. Neil is always great to watch and adds a lot of value to API evangelism–he’s a gold-standard developer & evangelist.

Were you able to check out the demos? Any others stand out for you? Pls post in comments below.

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