LAUNCH Hack Hack Hack



This weekend I attended the Launch Hackathon, right here in San Francisco. The event was billed as the largest of its type, with over 1000 hand-selected designers and developers competing for some great prizes, including a grand prize of $1.6k worth of investments and prize money. The event was MC’d by @Jason (Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc., Mahalo, and more recently TWiST), who did a splendid job of keeping things rolling.

The Hack

So myself and a couple of friends formed a team several months back, but despite many failed “brainstorming” meetups beforehand, pretty much turned up with no plan of what we wanted to make (great start).

The Team

After throwing a few ideas around, and not really gaining any momentum, we settled (read forced) upon a product that aimed to simplify collation and organisation of online recipes.

The basic idea was to provide users with a Bookmarklet/Browser Extension that allowed them to add any recipe to a unified catalog or “playlist” which provided a simple overview with uniform formatting, measurement units, layout etc.

This idea quickly “pivoted” to simply shopping for recipes instead of ingredients. Instead of manually collating recipes, the app would allow users to search for meals and order required ingredients in a few clicks. The product would also allow users to shop efficiently by combining recipes with common ingredients (so you don’t end up with half a tin of tomatoes, for example).

With renewed focus (and a substantial amount of coffee), we came up with “Quiche” (formally Trolley):


The app was built using, EC2, RDS, Bootstrap, Backbone.js and, again, a lot of caffeine products.

You can read more about what Quiche does here.


Although the idea didn’t win any prizes (we could’ve helped ourselves by actually entering a few of the API competitions), we were awarded a respectable 85% from our two judges:

Judges Feedback


So, to summarise my feelings from LAUNCH:

  • LAUNCH was by far the most well organised hackathon I’ve ever attended, everything just worked the way it should, there was clear attention to detail in all areas, and some great speakers to boot.
  • Think bigger. In hindsight, I think I should’ve let me imagination run more when coming up with ideas, I was too quick to think “how can we implement that in two days”, which actually isn’t that important. If I were to repeat the process I would definitely want to go after a bigger problem.
  • Sleep. Despite what people might say, I think getting solid sleep is critical to productivity, and, whilst it might be the done thing at hackathons, catching sub-three hours of sleep under a table is not going to yield the results you want.