Protohack – a code-free hack for designers & business


Held on May 17, 2014

(Corrections were made a 2pm local time.)

If You Attended, Why You Should Read This

I want to quickly mention I’ve been to numerous hackathon in as many months, and what is sorely missing is designers and business people. Hence this event as a great idea and I enjoyed the little time I was there – as a developer.

Also, I attended inspite of this being the Maker Faire Weekend. I pressed other developers to come, but they had long planned to be at the Maker Faire – mostly because they had their ventures’ going (Zook wordsLilbot). So rightfully there should have been more developers there.

In addition, the judges were not to consider the business case. As such, a serious developer would NOT have made the same decision. I have graded the business case and have noted my favorites. Also, because this was such a long torturous event – everyone was extremely nice. So you might be deluded into thinking your idea is good. It may not be.

Lastly, I did not schedule this blog post, nor did I have plans to write this. I  was so inspired by the work I saw, I thought it deserved some immediate praise.


I also wanted to mention the judges’ had a disposed bias toward social networks. This can be seen in either the work they do, or have done. As such, participants should have biased their Apps toward social networks – like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, if they wanted to win.

protohack_teamsAn Assortment of Issues

Aside from the mechanical issues, most pitches went well. I can only think of two (2) groups that should reconsider, get training, and start over.

The typical issues include:

  • passive voice – It was a mistake to use the communication method known as “passive voice”. When selling or pitching use an active voice.
  • volume lowers – This is error a natural human reaction and must be actively worked against. It is very natural, and often un-noticed by the speaker that the volume of the voice lowers when they are not confident with a point.
  • dangerous premise (imagine or iff) – the use of a dangerous premise that starts with the word imagine. This word is very powerful. If you plan on using it, learn how to use it. Go to a pitch club and practice. The other dangerous premise starts with the word if. Use both these words with caution.

The Participating Teams – in the order presented

All teams were timed 60 seconds for this first round.

Stage prior to the judging

Stage prior to the judging

poor, fair, ok, good/gd, vgood
The ones I really liked are in bold.
team name – business case – presentation
  • onetrip – ok – ok
  • parting steps – good – good
  • plummet – ok – working app?
  • pros – poor – poor (imagine)
  • cultivate – poor – good
  • goodbits – ok – good
  • bib & butter – good – good
  • eat tour – vgood – nervous, but good
  • overlay – gd – presentation failure
  • all fit – ok – cheated presentation
  • bean hero – poor – what was it?
  • edspread – poor – poor (buzzword heavy)
  • 99 bottles – ok/good – conflicted presentation
  • pencil box – vgood – fair presentation
  • just like mom’s – poor/good – not a thoughtful App
  • monkeysphere – good – ok
  • train 2 success – fair – (image)
  • take ten – ok/good – vgood
  • artenary – good – (image), but good
  • travel2change – what? – what?
  • upmentor – gd – vgd
  • shine – poor – ok
  • clothing with friends – gd – incomplete presentation
  • spottr – good – ok
  • anelli – ok – incomplete presentation
  • Vote Ally – good – shakey presentation
  • Groupie – vgood – incomplete presentation
  • Panache – vgood – vgood

The 5 Finalis in order of presentation

All teams were timed 5 minutes for this round.

team name – business case – presentation  (originally I scored)

  1. goodbits – vgood – ok (ok – good)
  2. eat tour – vgood – vgood (vgood – nervous, but good)
  3. monkeysphere – ok – poor (good – ok)
  4. take ten – ok – ok (ok/good – vgood)
  5. artenary – fair – ok (good – (image), but good)

The Winners in order

Place – team name – (originally I scored)

  1. take ten –  (ok/good – vgood)
  2. monkey sphere – (good – ok)
  3. good bits – (ok – good)
  4. eat tour – (vgood – nervous, but good)

My choices in order


Coffee, water, sodas, pizza, what else on a hack night.

  1. Panache – Excellent business model, great presentation.
  2. 99 bottles – Good idea, easy to monetize. Even thought it’s been done.
  3. bib & butter – Good idea, might be a hard sell.
  4. parting steps – Excellent idea, a hard sell. Needs a real business plan.



Organizers – Cole Fox, Rahul Nihalani