GrowConf is a gathering of entrepreneurs from both Canada and Sillicon Valley coming together to share knowledge and foster a new generation of innovation in business, both online and off. The sessions that filled the conference day were full of insights and action items. Our favourite panel was about developing and fostering API communities and featured Jeff Lawson from Twilio, Tyler Lessard from Research in Motion, Matt Galligan (very recently formerly) from SimpleGeo, Isaac Saldana from SendGrid and Jeff Clavier from SoftTech VC. The panel discussed the ups and downs of building communities for APIs. All the panelists agreed that Hackathons were one of the single best ways to connect with developers (the real end users of any API), develop a product and generate discussion. Good thing too, because we spent the Saturday after Grow doing just that…
HackDays are gatherings that bring together the brightest geeks in technology in Canada, so naturally we were thrilled to participate! Vancouver’s event this past weekend was the first ever HackDays event in the city, and boy did YVR represent! Out of a turnout of approximately 50 hackers, 14/15 projects had a live hack to demo at the end of the day! We were really impressed with the creativity and genius that went into these projects, and we were thrilled when we learned that a Context.IO mashup took the top prize at the end of the day!
The big winner was Ross Whisson, a Senior Web Dev at Pixilink. Ross built a customer support dashboard that mashes up Twilio, Context.IO and Freshbooks. The temporary project name was “Email to Phone”, but I know Ross didn’t put his official branding on that name, so as soon as he comes up with something else, we’ll post it here. “Email to Phone” works as follows:
Customer calls a support line via Twilio. Based on the incoming number, the customer service agent will the automagically see a list of recent email messages correlated to this customer via Context.IO in the support browser, providing a clear history of interactions and making the support experience smoother. The support call is then timed, and once completed, the call is pulled straight into Freshbooks for billing based on call time. Genius!
The awesome judges (Boris Mann from iQMetrix, Kenshi Arasaki from A Thinking Ape and Carl Schmidt from Unbounce) chose Ross’ project for a few reasons: they were impressed that he hacked it alone and without a team to leverage, that he was able to use 3 of the participating APIs, and that they could actually see themselves using it.
Ross was the lucky winner of the latest Macbook Air, and a one-year paid Github account. And yes, he got a Context.IO t-shirt. 🙂