BeaconValley Hackathon with the Dynamic Duo

26th November 2015

Sam and Olly promoting TapPoint with Kontakt team

Last weekend, my partner in crime Olly and I jetted off to support the developers gathering at the BeaconValley Hackathon in Krakow, hosted by the one and only Marty McHack (a.k.a. Marcin Kasz) and the wonderful folks of Kontakt.io.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a ‘Hackathon’, it involves assembling a gaggle of developers, fuelling them with pizza, beer and Red Bull and challenging them to build a start-up project in 24 hours.

BeaconValley was the largest beacon Hackathon in history, covering four locations across the world: Krakow, London, New York and Guadalajara, with over 100 developers in attendance, building Smart City applications focussing on culture, health, commerce and transportation.

In order to win the various prizes on offer, the developers were asked to split into teams and build an app, utilising beacon technology, which would turn their city into a ‘Smart City‘. To help with this challenge, developers had our award winning platform TapPoint® and Kontakt.io’s beacon hardware at their fingertips, as well as around the clock support from Proxama and Kontakt mentors.

Providing this support pushed our ability to intake caffeine to breaking point, but along the way we saw teams build some incredible apps, including bar guides, metro ticketing apps, city gamification platforms and even a revolutionary beacon app for using the toilet…on the off chance that some of our readers are eating their breakfast, we won’t go into too much detail there!

Here’s a minute-by minute breakdown of how we got on:

15:00
We arrive at The Museum of Municipal Engineering donning our Proxama T-shirts. Greeted by international beacon superstar Marty McHack who recognises us instantly from the website.

Sam with Proxama t-shirt at 2015 BeaconValley hackathon

15:30
A short tour and 4 cups of coffee later, we’re logged into Hangouts across the globe and ready to roll!

Olly wearing Proxama t-shirt

16:00
Marcin Kasz and Szymon Niemczura from Kontakt.io introduce the global challenge via a live stream to all locations, and Jon Worley, CEO of our Proximity Marketing division, announces Proxama’s Global Challenge.

16:30
Teams are formed, ideas are born and hacking begins.

Hackathon teams using Proxama's TapPoint platform and mobile SDK

17:00
Team Molten Man downloads our mobile SDK and starts integrating TapPoint.

18:00
Team Hellion joins the party and uses the TapPoint platform to begin building their local pub finder app.

19:30
Team Krakow becomes the last remaining Proxama mentors on the ground, now supporting four locations across the world.

20:00
London teams settle down while team Meteorite installs the SDK and begins to build their app.

20:30
App support questions continue to roll in from around the world while we increase our energy drink intake.

Sam and Olly providing TapPoint support to four locations around the world

21:30
Team Machine Man race ahead with beacon notifications and our Data Management Team (DMT) generates a standard report from TapPoint.

Proxama Data Management Team providing online support

22:00
Team Kang are up and running with TapPoint.

22:45
News of snow in Norwich reaches team Krakow!

Snow in Norwich at 2015 BeaconValley hackathon

23:00
Energy levels replenished with pizza and energy drinks replaced with beer.

Proxama's TapPoint platform and mobile SDK used by teams around the world

23:00
Inspired by the data they saw in the standard report, team Machine Man request a bespoke report, which the DMT are more than happy to produce.

12:00
Requests continue to fly in from New York and Mexico.

12:30
Team Pile Driver request a login and get started with TapPoint.

01:00
Team Human Torch uses TapPoint to improve their city games app and ultimately emerge as winners from the Krakow location.

01:30
DMT notice a peak in team Hellion’s notifications and fire off a report from the Norwich office.

Data Management Team sends TapPoint report

02:00
App support signs off for the night and we put our app developer hats on.

02:30
Morale boosting cuddle with Marty McHack.

Sam and Olly with Marty McHack of Kontakt.io

03:30
A wild Dave Starky appears to help New York teams.

Proxama providing online support for teams in New York

05:15
DMT sign off for the night.

Proxama's Data Management Team

05:30
Support questions slow down in Krakow and we leave our wooden chairs in search of beanbags.

Team Krakow at BeaconValley 2015

05:45
Beanbag hunt returns no results. We finish beers and return to hotel for much needed sleep.

06:00
ZZZ

09:00
6 cups of coffee later and team Krakow spring back into action.

11:30
Support questions ramp up from around the world as teams reach their final hours of hacking.

13:00
DMT produces report of TapPoint beacon notifications, displaying activity from 8 different teams and Machine Man reaching 840 notifications in a single hour.

Bespoke TapPoint report sent to teams in Krakow

14:00
FIFA break with Kontakt guys. Final score 7-0 in favour of Proxama. Olly is still waiting for his Facebook apology from Janusz.

15:00
Teams race to finish development and shoot pitch videos.

16:00
Team presentations are delivered and final judgment is completed.

17:00
Winners are announced, and it is revealed that 4/5 winners from Krakow were using TapPoint and our mobile SDK!

Now we’ve caught up on sleep and our blood content has normalised to below 50% Red bull, we’ve had a chance to reflect upon what we’ve learnt from what was a fantastic experience from start to finish:

With the help of some amazing technology and dedicated colleagues, you can support anyone, anywhere.

Going into the Hackathon we had expected the teams to need our support early on in the festivities (16:00- 20:00) and the questions to die down as we approached night time. How wrong we were! The team who ultimately won the Krakow challenge didn’t even come to us to integrate with TapPoint until 01:00. We were constantly speaking to developers excited about using TapPoint until the crack of dawn. I was blown away by the dedication of my colleagues to ensuring that all Hackathon participants had the best possible experience using Proxama technology, no matter the hour. All of whom had given up their weekends to help out.

Using Google Hangouts, we were able to support four locations, spread across the globe, at the same time. I can’t recall a time during the Hackathon when we weren’t talking to developers in New York and Guadalajara over the web, whilst a team was simultaneously sat with us in Krakow. To us, it felt like we were part of a ‘pop up community’, a community who were tightly connected by a common purpose (and Google) throughout the Hackathon.

TapPoint makes using beacon technology so much easier and faster for developers.

We’ve explained this to developers numerous times over the phone and at meetings, but actually seeing it happen in real time absolutely solidified this concept for me. We were lucky enough to help Kontakt.io with the judging process and it was noticeable that, over the same time period, the teams using TapPoint had been able to actually produce completed projects, whereas those who hadn’t, had some nice UI screens, but hadn’t created apps with actual beacon functionality. By using TapPoint, developers had an off-the-shelf means of allocating campaign data to their beacons and copy and paste code samples for monitoring triggers. The fact that 4/5 prizes on offer were won by teams using TapPoint speaks for itself.

We have an incredible partner in Kontakt.io.

This was our first time meeting our peers at Kontakt and I can’t say enough about how friendly and welcoming they were, even at 4AM when we were all in dire need of some sleep. We had the perfect opportunity to chat beacon tech, what worked for us, what challenges we encountered and how we felt it best to drive the industry forwards. It was great to find that we were both on the same page and looking forward to making use of each other’s impending feature tech upgrades. A massive thanks to Marcin, Santtu, Joanna, Janusz and the rest of the gang for making us feel at home. The only thing we would suggest is that Kontakt.io brush up on their FIFA skills.

10/10 can’t wait to do it again.