LAUNCH Festival Hackathon

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being one of the judges at the LAUNCH Hackathon hosted by Expedia, CapitalOne Labs, and BitPay. Over 800 developers and designers participated and over $2 million in prizes were given away. In addition to the grand prizes for best overall product (a $100,000 investment from the LAUNCH Fund), Expedia was a premier sponsor, giving away prizes to the top 5 teams who used our API in an interesting way.

It was an invigorating experience and I was blown away with what the teams were able to pull together in under 48 hours as well as with the great ideas on ways we could extend Expedia’s API in the future.

This hackathon solidified my belief that there hasn’t been a more exciting time to be in the travel and technology space. Here are some highlights from the whirlwind weekend:

LAUNCH Hackathon

LAUNCH Hackathon

LAUNCH Hackathon

Expedia API Winners
For the teams who used the Expedia API most creatively, Expedia travel credit was awarded:

  • $5,000 for 1st
  • $2,000 for 2nd
  • $1,000 each for 3rd, 4th and 5th

LAUNCH Hackathon

First Place: Oasis
The Oasis team used our Points of Interest API to build an exciting app in the discovery space. The app recommends points of interest to visit on a road trip. If a traveler accepts or ignores this feedback, it is used to improve suggestions for future travellers. We found the app to be creative, fun, and an excellent use of our API!

Second Place: Serendipit.us
Serendipit.us tied Facebook and travel itineraries together to let travelers meet up with other people who were traveling to the same destination as you during overlapping days. We thought it was an interesting take on integrating social and travel.

Third Place: DreamCatchr
DreamCatchr was a Chrome plugin that linked hotel searches to images with location data in Pinterest. We thought their visual design was beautiful and liked the idea of enhancing existing sources of emotive location photography.

Fourth Place: Noteary
Noteary built peer-to-peer marketplace for Evernote notes. The imagined use cases included class notes in college or conference notes for attendees. They implemented a “notes near me” feature, but then also added support for pulling in your Expedia itinerary list and letting you see notes for places you were going to be in the future as well. We liked the creative use of an undocumented API, and the fact that they gave us a use case for extending our itinerary API to third parties in the future.

Fifth Place: TravelNanny
Travel Nanny built a mobile app to augment your itinerary with information you might need. They used a third party API to parse your itinerary, then added additional information like what visas you need for the trip. We liked that they were solving a real problem for a lot of our customers and it made us interested to find out more about the visa information service they were consuming.

Best Overall Product
For the competitors for best overall product, three grand prize winners were chosen from a group of top five finalists. The honor was bestowed on VUE, Blush, and Ripple, all of whom received a $33,000 investment prize from The LAUNCH Fund.

1st Place: VUE
Vue automatically tracks all users interactions on mobile applications, provides a powerful search engine to learn more about your users, and allows you to ask questions to specific users about their in app behavior.

2nd Place: Blush
Received a bonus prize of $25,000 from Barracuda Ventures
Blush is a unique twist on 1-1 messaging with the people who matter the most to you. Blush is a mobile app that combines the convenience of offline texting with the intimacy of real-time video. Using the front-facing camera, a video is recorded on your recipient’s phone as your message is revealed one word at a time. When done, the video is sent back to you automatically so you can watch and share in the moment.

3rd Place: Ripple
Ripple lets you share content from your phone to users near you, where they have the choice to continue spreading the content themselves. It’s the new, democratic way to share ideas with people nearby.

We loved being at LAUNCH and getting our creative juices flowing. The community blew us away with their passion. In the future, we’ll highlight and take a closer look at some of the winning apps. Stay tuned!

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About John Kim

John Kim is the Chief Product Officer at Expedia. He is a seasoned and accomplished product and marketing executive with over 17 years experience as a digital media executive. John has a deep domain expertise in online and mobile search, local, advertising, analytics, gaming, and social media.

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