The fundamentals behind a successful hackathon

 PennApps hackathon was the largest college hackathon in the world and it took place this past weekend. It produced some of the best/most entertaining hacks that I’ve seen at any hackathon: Remote controlled battle bots, Automatic Wifi Authentication for facebook friends, enlarging media seamlessly from one to multiple mobile screens, app that messages you if you forget to put required items in your backpack, exploring neighborhoods from the comfort of your couch with augmented reality, just to name a few.

Looking back, I would say that this hackathon was a smashing success, and I’m sure the other sponsors would say the same. From my perspective as a developer evangelist, here’s why PennApps turned out to be a legendary hackathon and what we can learn from it:

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A new kind of hackathon

 Last weekend we had the pleasure of sponsoring University Hacker Olympics. Unlike your typical hackathons, this one emphasized connecting University students with industry professionals.

Personally, I thought the event was innovative in the field of recruiting. In the traditional interview process, sometimes great candidates were dismissed because their shyness or nervousness inhibited them from performing. 1-1 interviews can be intimidating, we’ve all been there. From the interviewer’s perspective, asking candidates to solve problems does not provide any valuable insight into how pleasant it would be to work with them in a working environment.

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Double Robotics presents at LeWeb

Yesterday, the talented folks at Double Robotics rocked the stage at LeWeb in Paris. David Cann, Co-founder and CEO, demoed their telepresence robot, Double. The sleek Double combines Segway-style movement with video presence delivered through an iPad.

Leveraging OpenTok’s iOS SDK on WebRTC, Double enables owners to broadcast their video stream on the robot’s iPad from any location. Not only that, but the operator can stream and control its movements from a smartphone.

Cann demoed the Double’s original inspiration, which was to connect remote workers with their home offices. Calling his CTO back in Sunnyvale, Cann took their Double for a three a.m. spin around the office from Paris. Customers are also finding uses for Double for remote tours of factories, museums, schools, and retail outlets.

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AngelHack Los Angeles Winter 2012

Here at TokBox, we’ve been supporting AngelHack since its infancy. This year it’s no different, and this time we sponsored at a city bursting with startup energy, Los Angeles.

The event is hosted at a spacious and comfortable co-working space called Cross Campus, a place to inspire “creative collisions through space design, learning platforms, and extraordinary events.” If you are an entrepreneur you might want to check it out!

The event started off with sponsor pitches and API talks. Singly provides SDK for developers to get their app connected quickly and easily with services like Facebook, Twitter, Google, just to name a few. Gimbal provides a mobile context awareness platform that includes image recognition and geofencing. TokBox provides a video chat API (called OpenTok), and for demo I live coded a web and iOS app that video chatted with each other.

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TokBox disrupts the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference

After getting some much-needed rest, there was much fun to be had at the actual Disrupt conference, featuring big names like Kevin Rose, Mark Zuckerberg, Jessica Alba, Michael Arrington and more!  Not only did we get enough shirts and shwag to represent a different startup for every day of the month, but we met some really cool partners, featured on the battlefield, and they were:

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Redefining Work Hackathon by Box

As mentioned in previous blog, we are proud to be sponsoring a Box Hackathon, called Redefining Work. Over the past weekend, we got to live it and it was AWESOME!

For pictures, look at our facebook page. We took pictures throughout the entire hackathon!

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Hack for Change: Your skills are good, but do they do good?

Over the past weekend, July 28-29, we sponsored Hack for Change. How can you use technology to help and improve the lives of the people around you? Or better yet, how can you use video technology to make a change?

On the beautiful saturday morning, Change.org opened their Headquarters to developers, designers, and hustlers with a common goal: to build something over the weekend that can help improve the community. In the spacious office with an unlimited supply of snacks, food, energy drinks, beer, and soft drinks, hackers comfortably mingled and got to know each other.

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Change the World at the 2012 Box Hackathon

It’s time to take control of your work. Ever notice yourself doing repetitive tasks and wished there was a way to automate? Wish there was an easier way to communicate and collaborate with co-workers?

Let’s do something about it.

On August 11, there will be a hackathon. In two days, you can be the change you wish to see in your workplace by putting together a mobile or web application that your users can use to increase their productivity and happiness at work.

Come in with your computer and your ideas, and learn how technology can help you accomplish your tasks. There will be representatives from different companies to help you and give you prizes for your efforts to improve the workplace.

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Apply to demo at TechCrunch Disrupt SF

TokBox friends, today is your lucky day because we’re sending one deserving startup team to TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco to demo their OpenTok-powered goods between September 8-12, 2012.

Startup Alley, TC Disrupt’s demo area, is set aside just for newly launched startups. Participants get 2 tickets to the full conference and one complimentary day to demo your startup for a grand total of $0 (we’ll foot the $1,995 bill). The only requirements to apply to our contest?

  • Your companies must be less than two years old
  • You have raised less than $2 million dollars in funding
  • Last but not least, your app must be powered by the OpenTok API
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Winner of OpenTok’s Prize at ioHack 2012

Aurelio Tinio wins TokBox’s prize (PlayStation 3) for the best use of OpenTok API. He integrated Video Chat into straymapper.com, so that pet owners who lost pets can ‘Call in’ to the animal shelter to see if his/her pet has been found! OpenTok integration in Stray Mapper is still in development and waiting for Approval.

Congratulations!

ioHack was held with Google Technology User’s Group (GTUG) at Mashery office in San Francisco. It was a great turnout, had around 80 cool developers who built awesome applications.

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