Fall:Leaves, Hackathons, and Hatching Startups

I missed HackNY’s Fall hackathon event which was held at NYU’s Courant Institute over one long weekend earlier this month.  HackNY—it’s a non-profit—had the idea that entrepreneurship can be nurtured at the college level. HackNY is itself a kind of startup that was only recently founded by academics from NYU and Columbia.  Students apply to the program to become fellows and if accepted get matched up with New York-based startup for a summer internship, with NYU kicking in free dorm rooms. Kudos to Evan Korth (NYU), Chris Wiggins (Columbia), and Hilary Mason (now at bit.ly) for hatching this.

HackNY’s first hackathon brought together over 200 students during the October 9th weekend to see what they could do with APIs from the likes of 10gen, Aviary, Kodingen, Hunch, and Twilio.

This year’s price was won by HackNY fellow Ian Jablonowski—he interned at bit.ly this summer. This is the second hackathon Ian has won.

I did make the final presentations for Startup Weekend NYC back in June so I’m somewhat familiar with the atmosphere of these happenings—think “all nighter” junk-food fueled study session  where the goal is to produce viable software instead of memorizing for a mere test. It is impressive.

This year’s winning hack is based around the idea of an  alarm clock that calls you at a preset time and reads news updates, presumably from a list of configured RSS feeds. It’s built partially on Twilio’s quite cool voice browser APIs.

Assembled by  Jablonowski, who is a Rutgers computer science student, this hack appear to be evolving into its next stage of  larval development: a startup. He’s calling it “Cock-a-doodle-do.”  (I like it!) And according to his blog, he’ll be showing it off at November’s New York Tech Meetup.

It’s scary to think what Mr. Jablonowski could do with Tropo’s new Phono SDK for embedding SIP softphones.

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