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February 15, 2013

Work at Play are TV Hackfest Dual Winners

TV Hackfest is a weekend hackathon dedicated to decoding and creating the future of television. It’s the kind of event we live for. So, we sent two cracker-jack developers and our CEO to San Francisco to compete in the hack. 24 hours later, they emerged double winners.


Organized by Richard Kastelein, TV Hackfest was held in San Francisco as part of Appsworld 2013. The mission of the hackathon was simple: build, design and show how future video entertainment could be delivered within an interactive multi-screen environment.

Our team, Team APPplause, consisted of two developers and our CEO. They walked away the only dual winners of the Hackathon, taking home best commercial concept and the Vobile TVSync Sponsor award for best use of their API.

Here’s how they did it. 

Hackathon experience pays off

We here at Work at Play have a rich history of using hackathons (we call them Make it or Fake it Days, MOFIDY) to foster engagement and drive creativity. It’s a practice we not only believe in, but also thoroughly enjoy. At TV Hackfest, our team directly credited their success to this practice. Their ability to timebox, brainstorm on the fly and develop creatively within tight confines gave them the confidence to dive right in. They knew exactly what they needed to do, and how to go about doing it.  

TV Hackfest

Focus on one idea

It’s pretty easy to get swept up in grand ideas, especially in a hackathon environment where excitement and adrenaline are already heightened. Having had deep experience in hackathons, our team knew how dangerous multi-layered, flashy ideas are to actually build and execute. So they focused on one single idea and brought it to life with functional code and approachable user experience. In the end, what they presented was 100% a hack – a solid, working, live app centered around one great idea.

Pick an API and run with it

Our team knew early on that they wanted to build something that would convey the excitement you feel when you’re totally immersed in a great show. With that in mind, they were able to zero in pretty quickly on the API that would help them create this experience. Even though it was totally new to them, they were confident enough in their idea to run with it.


Having a day and a bit to research, conceptualize, plan, implement, debug, and prepare (for the presentation) is tough. As mentioned, having mini-hackathons at work helped our team prepare for it. However, they also had some help.

Early on, they had a mentor named Lance Nanek, a developer evangelist from HTC. Lance not only hooked our team up with Android phones and SDK, but he also helped set up their development environments and code base. 

Of course, programming till six in the morning just wouldn't have been possible without bottles of 5-hour ENERGY drinks. Thankfully, they were given out in buckets. What a life saver!

The winning idea

So what did our guys build? Well, we can’t reveal that just yet, but we can leave you with the tagline that started it all

“Real time audience reaction and social activity playback on the second screen”

TVSync App

We couldn’t be more proud of Team APPplause and the hard work and brilliant hacking they brought to the table at TV Hackfest. Please, join us in giving them a round of....well, applause!

To learn more about this event head on over to TV Hackfest's Facebook Page, or check out the video below. That's Team APPplause at the 1:56 mark!