We love a hack competition at Mint. We love them so much, we have our own yearly hack week every February and we even turned that into a way of working with clients. So naturally, when we get the chance to work alongside and compete with other hackers, we jump at it. Last weekend was the London leg of PayPal's global hack competition Battle Hack and Adam, Noam and myself were in attendance.
Mint at Battle Hack London
The top prize for the weekend was a trip out to Silicon Valley to battle against the winners from the other 9 partaking cities with the overall prize for Battle Hack, a cool $100,000. But it's not all about the money. The theme for the weekend was to solve a local problem, so with that charitable mission in mind a full house at Level39 got to work for 24 hours of hacking just after 1pm on Saturday.
Battle Hack was not your ordinary hack day. Leaving aside the grand prize, the winners on the day were to walk away with their own axe (it was a battle). Owing, I'm sure, to the PayPal branding, everything was blue or white. From the t-shirts and hack day survival kits to the cocktails and pick and mix sweets. You couldn't find a cola bottle or gummy bear, but milk bottles and gummy Smurfs were certainly present. Even the cheese on the burgers at dinner was blue. Finally, the venue was pretty special too. You couldn't fail to be inspired with this view out over London.
As there were only 3 of us, we teamed up with Matt Bee. Matt had had the idea to revolutionise the sales of The Big Issue. With the hypothesis that cash was increasingly rare on the streets, a problem for Big Issue vendors, we set about creating our application "The Bigger Issue," a way for Big Issue vendors to take mobile payments on the streets. We combined Twilio to receive text messages and PayPal's new REST APIs to take payments so that we could deliver a digital issue of the magazine.
The competition was fierce over the weekend and there were plenty of interesting, fun and technically brilliant hacks produced. Some of my favourites included LifePong, a game where you become a geolocated paddle to knock a ball between you and a partner across a real map, TicketDrop, a cross between Eventbrite and pricedrop.tv, and the eventual winner Candlepath an iOS app by one of the Nottingham HackSoc that used local street light data to plot the safest, brightest way to walk home at night.
Whilst we missed out on the top prize, we did manage to scoop 2nd place, which left me very happy with the weekend's efforts. I'd like to wish the Candlepath team the best of luck on the global stage and thank PayPal for a superb, and very well executed, hack day. We'll certainly be back next year, gunning for the top prize and world hack domination!