On October 17th, we held our first ever Telerik European Hackathon. I had the pleasure of attending, and it was an amazing experience. I wanted so badly to tell you all about it, so I wrote it all down. Then I realized that my words would never do this event justice.
Instead, I would like to tell you all about the Hackathon through the camera lens of Svetlin Nikola, who did a much better job capturing the moment than I ever could.
The Hackathon took place in Sofia, BG which is Telerik’s global home office. The Telerik Academy, which is the flagship building of the sprawling Telerik campus was re-purposed and re-branded for the Hackathon. This is serious business. This was our selfie spot where hackers could take pictures against the custom Telerik Hack backdrop.
Registration starts at 5, but people are already trickling in the door at 4:45. It never ceases to amaze me how eager people are to stay up for 48 hours straight.
That’s me! I had the honor of serving as the MC for the event. Microphone check 1, 2.
The first floor room begins to fill up as we get ready to kick things off. Welcome to the Hunger Games!
We kicked things off with a brief keynote from Telerik’s own CTO, Faris Sweis. Faris has built a side project or two and even sold a company, so it was only fitting for him to present “10 Simple Lessons For Aspiring Entrepreneurs”.
Here you can see Lee Crossley and Ryan Roberts all the way from Manchester, UK. Lee is clearly enthralled with the keynote, but it looks like Ryan is doing what I usually do during keynotes – something else.
Next up we had Shawn Wildermuth presenting on “Lessons Learned In Hybrid App Development”. He’s got some great app store rejection stories. He and Apple are BFFs.
Sam Basu then did the best 15 minute demo I’ve ever seen in my life. He did a whirlwind intro to the Telerik Platform that I hope was recorded, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do such a good job in such a short amount of time. Here you can see him getting all of his demos ready.
After a quick update from the creator of the Imagga API, we got down the real business. PIZZA. Lots and lots of pizza.
By then of course, the games had already begun and the Hackathon was in full swing.
Some worked at tables…
Some worked in comfy chairs..
Some worked in BEAN BAG chairs…
and some just played foosball….
OK – so nobody played foosball because they were way too busy coding out on the open roof of the Telerik Academy overlooking the bright Sofia city lights while nursing on a beer from the cafe. The Telerik Academy is my favorite of the Telerik buildings and I think it’s that rooftop setup that does it for me.
Of course, this continued all night and straight through Saturday. Some slept on their computers, some went to the hotel for rest, and some powered straight through replacing all the blood in their bodies with Redbull.
One of the great things about this Hackathon is that we had the engineers who work on the Telerik Platform available to work directly with the different teams. Here you can see Sam from DevRel working with a dedicated hacker.
Now Sam is conversing with Pavel, VP Of Cloud Engineering. We call that “issue escalation”.
Even though I wasn’t eligible to win, I took advantage of the time to work on an internal project and exploit Korchev – the Kendo UI lead. Korchev loves to pair program with me. He once asked me if we could pair program all day every day, but I told him that would be awkward.
Meanwhile, Petyo Ivanov – co-creator of Kendo UI Mobile plays foosball against himself and still manages to lose somehow.
Alex Mechkova takes a moment to rest and soak it all in. Alex and her team put this whole event together and I’m sure it feels great to see it all coming together.
After nearly 40 hours, it’s finally time for the judging. Judging was in two rounds. In the first round, teams were split into three groups and a technical review was done. Out of the 30 teams that had app submissions, 13 made it to the second round of judging. These 13 teams then had 5 minutes to make a formal app pitch to the jury. It’s not just about the app, it’s about the idea as well. There were folks from actual VC firms on our jury. It was like an episode of Shark Tank.
Here, the team “10 Thousand Words” gets ready to make their presentation. 10,000 Words is an app that used geolocation to plot your position on a map. Then, you could send pictures to other people. The trick was, you had to be facing in the direction of that person in order to send them a picture. Pretty neat!
Team “52” had the same “coordinated t-shirt” idea. The “52” app surfaces charities. It then allows the user to make micro-donations on a weekly basis while tracking their giving and total money raised by a charity. This was also a very interesting idea – especially for those living in regions where it’s hard to know where exactly the charities are, and how you can go about donating.
There were 11 other amazing app ideas. We had apps that identified the perfect surfing conditions. Apps that allowed you to challenge your friends to short races – even indoors! One app used IBeacon to allow you to scan a product you were interested in, and then it would notify you if you walked by a store where that item was on sale. How killer is that?
After the final round of presentations, the jury deliberated…
With so many great apps, it was so hard to pick a winner!
Finally, the judging was done and everyone eagerly assembled in the atrium to find out the results.
My MC skills were still in full effect after 48 hours. Of course, I had gone back to my room and slept a lot when nobody was looking.
Second place went to team “52”. They were thrilled! Really really tired and really excited. Of course, I would be really excited too if I won 5 thousand dollars.
Finally, it was time to reveal the winner of the 10 thousand dollar first place prize. This was a big deal considering this is one of the largest prizes ever awarded at a European Hackathon. It’s a prize deserving of a giant check.
We announced the winner by writing their name on the giant check.
The team “Cool Apps” was the winner of our 10K dollar prize with their app, Amroo. This app was such a great idea and all the judges were thrilled with it. The app allowed you to find people in your area where you could drop you pet off while you were on vacation. The app featured a feedback and rating system, along with the ability to set a daily rate. Think of it as Air BnB for pets. If you have a pet, you know how expensive it can be for boarding and pet hotels. This app has HUGE potential.
The Cool Apps team was crazy excited to win, and I was really excited too! Then I remembered I wasn’t on the team and wouldn’t be winning any money.
With that, we closed out our first ever European Hackathon with an epic group picture of all the folks who were able to power through and make it the entire 48 hours.
Thanks to Cody Lindley, we have the entire winners announcement recorded on video so you can relive the moment in all it’s 3 minute glory.
A big congratulations to all our winners and a HUGE thanks to everyone for coming out to Sofia to make this one of our most successful events ever. We’re already thinking about what we’re going to do next year.
Do you know what’s cooler than 10,000 dollars?