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Yahoo! Open Hack 5 – The Experience

August 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Before we even start, here’s the idea which we hacked up during the 24 hour contest timeline. Brand horizon – When all the social media focuses on the count of re-tweets or share (or whatever they’d like to call it) None of it actually gives you the count of people your product update reached out to. That particular missing link is what addressed in Brand Horizon is. It’s not actually how many shared your update, rather it is who shared your update. The most influential person’s share would spread the word faster. You hit the right nerve, you get the information across faster.

Well before the event:

After Yahoo! Open Hack 4, the expectations were really high for the next edition. The two day weekend at The Lalit Ashok Palace Bangalore during July 2011 hiked up the anticipation for this one. The date was fixed for August second weekend at The Sheraton Bangalore. Two weeks prior to the event, me and my co-hacker came up with countless suggestions for the hack we were about to build. Some of it were: Rupyaa++ – a social media based money management tool which would help you split up the costs of a group hangout or a trip. TwitVote – a voting system with crowd sourced data from twitter. A sentiment analysis based system which gives you a pulse of the crowd’s thought over a given subject. We even came up with some fun hack ideas – A guy-bot who changes his emotions based on tweets he receives and a Guess-the-movie-based-on-its-quote site.

Just before the event:

As the event neared, the official categories for the hacks were published as: Digital Communications, Digital Media & Advertising, Multi-media Experiences and a wide bucket category called “Surprise Us”.  The last one was quite tempting. Although we chose to take the defined category of Digital Media & Advertising and that’s when we brought the idea of Brand Horizons to the fore.

The event:

Like any of its precedents, fifth edition had all the usual elements: Swanky hotel, Yahoos, A huge crowd of eager developers and none other than Anil. He’s Yahoo’s secret sauce when it comes to YDN and developer engagement. After the usual sessions from Murray, Saurabh, Jai – we drove straight into the hack and started with our product. We learnt a lot from our mistakes at YOH 4 which we vowed not to repeat this edition.

The Issues:

Well for starters, the WiFi gave away and we lost precious time after the 24 hour countdown started ticking down. Those wonderful Yahoos wracked their brain to help us connect, but our laptops just wouldn’t give up and connect. Next, once we started querying Twitter through YQL console we never got what we wanted. Turned out, due to multiple pings to Twitter APIs through YQL, Twitter blocked YQL. So our original idea of mashing up data from Twitter and Facebook was given up and the product specifically focussed on brands based out of Twitter. The last one was, neither of our team members, knew in-depth PHP. So we had to struggle overnight to complete the app which required a good use of OAuth.

Panel Evaluation:

The 24 hours counted down to 00:00:00 and we wrapped up our hack with a good description, a screencast on youtube. We were given the first slot for presentation, yay! And We were ready for the panel evaluation.  Our panel was of 3 judges with one extra time-keeper. We were offered strictly 2 minutes with 90 seconds for the demo and 30 seconds for any Questions from the judges. The key person on our panel was Shouvick and was indeed a pleasure to see our product examined by an industry leader.

The presentation went well although sadly for a remark that the prototype was constrained just to Twitter and there were other competitors like TweetReach with similar ideas. This gave a clear idea that our prototype didn’t make the cut, Nevertheless we were satisfied we could come up with a complete working prototype in under 24 hours.

The actual winners:

The final few hours of the event were made of the very popular open bar, and the presentations from the selected hacks. As remarked by one of the judges, not all ideas were worth selling but only a few were. And those were the ones which made the cut. Later that day, saurabh announced the winning hacks through the YDN website Brock, vibration reduction, pictrends, i am bored, bookmafia, beamOS. All deserved the accolades. It was a real experience into the world of startups where in a simple idea turns into something worth making money out of!

 

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