Singly's $10K App Challenge: How the Real Winner of Hackathon is Singly

Today's rich ecosystem of software apps is possible because the people coding them build on the work of the coders who came before them. Tools like Flipboard are only possible because they build new levels on top of existing products like Facebook and Twitter. And finding things like the physical location of users is trivial today because the coding work has already been done.  This brings two huge benefits to both developers and users. First of all, the time taken to build a new app is much less. Second, it allows people to implement creative new app ideas without getting bogged down in coding basics.

Singly is a startup that makes the development of social-network-based apps even easier because it provides a standard interface for Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other networks. Instead of having to learn the API interface details for each of them, a developer can send standardized requests to Singly, which takes care of the rest.  This is already an interesting idea but what really caught my attention was the effective way they found to promote this new service.

To demonstrate how Singly speeds up the development process the company organized a hackathon, the Singly App Challenge during the long weekend from 1st to 3rd June 2012. Contestants simply had to turn up on Friday and then spend the weekend coding a new app using the singly uniform API, demonstrating a working prototype on Sunday. The winning team takes home a $10000 prize.

Among the apps in the challenge were Pipe,  that helps you identify and contact one person from your network each day, Vippit, a tool for handling shared payments when groups of people do things together and Calm, an app that filters tweets and Facebook posts so you see exactly the ones you want to. Officially the winner is @Yardrush, "The Optimal Way to Get Rid of Anything", but I suspect that in the end the real winner is Singly, who demonstrated through this interesting initiative the key selling point of their product.

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