Hack Daze

Etsy and Dwolla’s eCommerce Hack Day Was Practically an Olympic Event

A marathon, not a sprint.
ecommerce hackathon Etsy and Dwollas eCommerce Hack Day Was Practically an Olympic Event

Pizza boxes not pictured.

And the gold medal goes to . . . MissNev!  No, we’re not talking another Olympic gold for Team USA, but rather prizes for this weekend’s first-ever New York City “Ecommerce Hack Day,” hosted by Dwolla and Etsy. The event was held at AlleyNYC–formerly known as The Hatchery–a coworking-space for early and growth-stage startups located in the Fashion District.  More than 225 people showed up over the course of the hackathon, which started at 10 a.m. on Saturday and didn’t shut down until 5 p.m. on Sunday–amidst a pile of pizza boxes, empty gallons of coffee, and discarded bottles of 5-Hour Energy, of course.

In the end, developers presented 37 hacks and won over $10,000 in prizes from high-profile startups like Foursquare, Constant Contact, WePay, and Zappos.

First-place–and a $6,000 prize–went to MissNev, a hack that lets online shoppers send their packages to nearby businesses in exchange for product purchases, so you never have to miss packages when you’re not home. Ideal for anyone who doesn’t live in a doorman building. The judges, who scored the projects based on creativity, technical prowess, design, and viability, were not the only ones impressed by MissNev’s idea.  The team also received one month of free working space from AlleyNYC, as well as two Kindle Fires and a $100 gift card from Twilio.

Etsy and Dwolla tried to keep out the noobs by making applicants solve a puzzle in order to win a coveted developer ticket. But self-described serious hackers still kvetched about their unworthy peers. “I was the only hacker on my team and there was quite a bit of tension and egos,” Sohel Siddique of GymFlex told Betabeat. Mr. Siddique, who said he has been hacking since the age of 14, also claimed to be completely unfazed by the lack of sleep. “If you talk to any real hacker, they sleep like 4 to 5 hours a day.  When I work, I hack. When I come home, I hack. And on the weekends, I hack.  Being in a hackathon is just like being at home.”

The silver medal–along with $2,500 in prize money and a $5,000 trip furnished by Terapeak–was given to ShopPapaya, a one-click tool that lets consumers figure out the right time to buy by showing whether prices of products are rising or falling. The service uses analytical tools over retailer sites to check the latest price trends on eBay.  The final spot on the podium, along with $1,500, was snagged by Dollarly, a team led by Adam Leibsohn, founder Voyurl.

Although they didn’t medal, the Michael Phelps of the hackathon was FriendlyFeast, which was called up four times to receive awards. FriendlyFeast makes it easy to get takeout with friends by letting users pick a time and place and then provides a list of restaurants that will deliver to that location. Once you choose a restaurant, your friends will get an email with the details and a link to place their orders. Users can pay with their credit card; one hour before the meal, the orders are pooled into an account managed by FriendlyFeast.

Making our way through the empty pizza boxes, we finally caught up with the six members of MissNev and were surprised to discover that the team was composed of first-time hackathon attendees, whose members have all been taking coding classes at AlleyNYC for the past couple of months.

Mike De’Shazer, who teaches the class and is the self-proclaimed coach of the team, didn’t seemed worried by his newbie status. “We are most excited about launching our startup now,” he told Betabeat. “We have an app and now are going to change the way people receive packages forever.” Forever? Nothing like the innocence of  your first hack.