I’m guessing a normal Saturday morning at the Heartland Golf Club looks more reminiscent of a scene from Caddyshack than The Social Network. But on the morning of June 2nd, over 100 hackers filed into the clubhouse to participate in the inaugural Hack the Midwest competition.
Organized by a local tech community called Kansas City IT Professionals (KCITP), the event pitted software developers against one another in a 24-hour hackathon to create and demonstrate an original and useful mobile or web-based application. More than $5,000 in cash and prizes was offered by a variety of local and national companies, most of which provided an application programming interface, or API, for the developers to utilize in the creation of their software.
A small group of Intouch developers decided to take the challenge and develop an application using the Mashery API. Tony Mishler, Jonathan Rehling, Jeremy West, Clint Helfers and Abidur Rahman built Make My Day, a mobile-optimized web application that uses a device or web browser’s geolocation to plan the perfect day of local fun and adventure. The app utilizes APIs from Yelp, MapQuest, WeatherBug, Neustar and SendGrid to suggest an agenda based on user ratings. The agenda can then be fully customized based on the users’ preferences and location. The information can also be sent via email and printed to take along for the trip.
According to Abidur Rahman, the idea had to meet certain criteria before the team considered it viable for development. “The app had to be useful, mobile-optimized, integrate with social media or encourage community and the team had to be able to complete development in 24 hours”
The group took a very strategic approach once they arrived at the event. “We planned out the basic functionality of the app. Then, if we got that built and had four more hours, we decided exactly what functionality we would add. If we got that built and had more time, we knew exactly what functionality we would add. And so on.”
This level of planning paid off. The Intouch team’s app won Best Use of Mashery. And although they won, the team learned a lot about these types of events. “The presentation is very important. We probably could have been better prepared for that,” Rahman said. He went on to note, “This event showed us how much talent resides in the Midwest, the community is much bigger than I expected.”