The tech conference season this autumn is currently in full swing and this year there was a very special (pre-)event two days before the first European TechCrunch Disrupt Conference 2013 in Berlin: The Hackathon!
Since it was the first time that the Techcrunch Hackathon took place in Europe, our team decided that we just had to support this event by offering our own contest! Besides Zalando, other great companies did a sponsorship such as Foursquare, Xing, Yammer, Paymill. Due to these partnerships, the hackathon was completely free for all the 500 international participants. The venue "Arena Berlin", a huge indoor hall near the river Spree, was just perfect to host all hackers and create an open, bustling and productive atmosphere.
We brought our brand new API with us and as you can imagine, we were very eager to find out the coders reactions and how many teams would choose our API for their hack. With this interface they had access to all of our over 150.000 products in the catalog. This offered endless possibilities to create a cool piece of software.
After a short lightning presentation of all available APIs, the Hackathon kicked off at Saturday noon. The hackers made about 100 teams with 2 to 5 members. From then on, the clock ticked and the 24-hour-hack began.
The mission we gave to the hackers at the very beginning was to "create an innovative and creative approach to take our customers to a unique shopping journey". Fortunately the API went down really well! We got a lot of positive feedback and many teams decided to use our API to build something quick and great. And the glimpses we saw looked really promising. During the night the hackers began to get really stuck in! The Zalando crew at our booth supported the teams through the whole night with coding tips, fashion advice and (most important) Club Mate in huge quantities.
The rising sun over the Arena sounded the bell for the last round. All teams who wanted to present on stage had to register and submit their hack. It was astonishing for us to see that over 90 teams were still in the race - almost nobody quit during the night. The presentation rules were really tough for the teams: They could choose 2 team members to go up on the big stage and present their idea with a strict time limit of 1 minute. Eight teams were competing for the "Zalando Sponsor Prize". As every team did an awesome job, we really had a hard time fo find an overall winner. In the end, the winner was "Glovr"!
So what did they do?
The two hackers managed to use a "Leap Motion" device to measure the exact size of a human hand by just hovering over the device. With this data a search can be done in the Zalando product catalog for such items like the perfect fitting gloves. The customer chooses the style and the perfect fit is guaranteed! That simple but powerful idea really impressed us. And most importantly: it actually solves a real world problem! A great combination of hardware and software!
The complete overview of all the teams, who used our API:
And since we like it the spontaneous way we already invited the team, who used our API for creating “Partylando” to our Tech Headquarters in Berlin Mollstrasse. After an office tour and a short introduction in how we work at Zalando Technology we did a short TechTalk session, where Maarten and Bert presented their Hackathon-results to some of our developers. Thank you Maarten and Bert for your great efforts! And since this worked so well, we decided to invite more hack-teams to share their results with our shop-team: Next week we will welcome the winner team!
All in all the Disrupt Hackathon 2013 was an impressive event! We really want to thank all teams for participating and using our API to create these great results in such a short amount of time. Your positive feedback has definitely encouraged us to do more hackathons and work even harder to make our API better and better. Also we want to thank Leslie and the whole TechCrunch team, they all did an amazing job during the whole weekend!
See you next time!
P.S.: Here you can get more information about the event, watch some videos and read interesting background information.
P.P.S.: As mentioned earlier in the article: The API was especially created for this event and is not publicly available at this point of time. Be sure to check our Tech Blog regularly to get all new information about the API and it’s development.