A traditional and effective way to launch software platform companies is to recruit early developers and host hackathons. Singly, the social data platform company did just that on June 3rd in San Francisco. Singly offered a grand prize of $10,000 to whomever created the most creative and interesting app based on the Singly API. The response was fantastic. They had more than 200 developers attend the 48 hour hackathon in person and more than 20 apps submitted at the end of the weekend. Somewhat surprising to many of us, a bunch of teams were working on apps during the weekend but were not physically in attendance. They showed up at the Sunday 5pm deadline with completed apps, working with our dev teams in the IRC chat rooms.
As important as it is to attract developers to a platform, demonstrating responsiveness to their needs is key. During the 48 hour hackathon, the Singly team re-deployed the API more than 25 times based on bug fixes and feature requests. This was truly development in real-time.
At the end of the 48 hours, 6 judges (including yours truly) evaluated the apps and picked a bunch of exciting winners. It was amazing to see so many apps born in such a short time. Congrats to Yard Rush and all the winners!
The team has a great blog post up about how they did it and what they learned.
A quick video of the entire experience is above.