This Spring, co-founders Doug Crescenzi and Mitch Holland organized yet another great HackUpstate hackathon! What is HackUpstate? Find out here!

Participants entered the doors of the April 11-12 event Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse starting at 11:00 AM on Saturday, and nervously gathered together throughout the hour. Soon, Doug, co-founder and host of the event, welcomed the audience. He introduced the sponsors of the event and also announced several job opportunities. He also iterated that this was not a business competition. He shared:

“Hack Upstate intends to unite and facilitate collaboration among the great Upstate NY hacker community. In doing so, we aim to contribute to the growth of Upstate NY’s technology sector, and to create a robust network of Upstate technologists.”

Afterward, participants of all ages and skill levels pitched their ideas to the audience. In total, five individuals pitched ideas ranging from a virtual training platform to information security. Each pitch consisted of the individual’s idea, coding background, and what other skills they were looking for. This pitching process allowed hackers without an idea to contribute their assets to other projects and gain experience. This is exactly how HackUpstate was intended to be–a community. A half hour later, pitching began, as hackers, both experienced and inexperienced, scrambled to make their teams get to work for next 24 hours.

HackUpstate, with the help of its sponsors, provided food and beverages for the hackers at the Tech Garden. Certain teams worked all night, while others chose to hack only during the daytime. Nonetheless, the hacker community thrived throughout.

Come noon on Sunday, all of the hackers threw their hands in the air and stopped hacking, even if they were not yet finished. Next, every team provided a four-minute demo of their service.

Twelve Teams

In total, 12 teams pitched their app or service. That was an impressive number of teams considering the 24-hour timeframe. Demos ranged from a bar-hopping app, to hand writing recognition software, to new Google Chrome features. As a spectator, I was honestly impressed at how much these developers could accomplish in such a short period of time.

The Awards

After demos, there were awards. Crescenzi first introduced the winner of the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset. This was the award for the MongoDB, an open-source database challenge. This challenge was for any team applied to any team throughout the competition that used MongoDB’s services for their project. This award went to ToDo.txtaaS, an online text as a service platform to create new to-do lists for quick tasks or projects. (There was also an option to generate graphs to measure productivity throughout a certain period of time.) This team effectively used MongoDB for developmental support. What’s more, the apparent team leader was a 16-year-old high school student!

First and Second Places

In second place was Call Me In. This is a system used for managing conference calls. At one point or another, any business person or team member can admit to forgetting to call into a scheduled meeting, and sometimes individuals are  driving during the meeting time and where can’t dial in. Call Me In eliminates this hassle by sending a text to invited team members and sending a confirmation text. At this point, team members can confirm the meeting or choose to opt out if they are busy. The one-man team proved his service by successfully setting up a mock conference call during his four-minute demo. For all of us who regularly attend conference calls, this service may prove to be extremely efficient!

In first place was Slices. This is a pizza ordering app. Here’s how it works: a host, whoever is placing the pizza order, initiates the order with their preferences, including their likes and dislikes. Meanwhile, guests can join the order by listing their preferences as well through an “order code.” Once the host closes the order, SMS messages will be sent out to the guests for their pizza allotment of the order. Slices also set up a mass pizza order for the audience to join in. The team proved that the service worked and had the perfect pizza order in just four minutes! When asked if he plans to sell his service to major pizza chains, the developer said he would only consider if it was a local pizza chain.

It was certainly an exciting weekend of hacking! All the participants brought their A-games and contributed to a great community.

Stay Tuned for Fall

HackUpstate will host another hackathon in the fall, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the event’s Twitter account and Facebook page for regular updates in the hacker community!

Have you ever been to a hackathon? Let us know what you think of them, by leaving your comments here!