Team Daft Hack, the winners at Grow Hackathon this year, brought home a $10,000 check for their innovative new app – developed for wearables. Check out their story and learn about the app you need to download on the mountain this winter.
Me: Tell me about the members of your team and how you came together for this hackathon.
Team Daft Hack: We’re called Team Daft Hack. There are two of us, Phil Jama and Jeff LaPorte. We’ve worked together in the past at a previous startup, which we both felt gave us a leg up in the competition, especially in the demo phase.
M: What was the app that you built?
TDH: We created a real-time, multiplayer app called JumpSquad, using Recon Instruments’ Snow2, a headset display for snowboarding goggles.
We integrated Recon’s SDK into our app to gamify the snowboarding and skiing experience for real-time competition with friends. The app connects to everybody’s goggles and phones. During game time, players who perform tricks (like going off a halfpipe) receive points, while the other players are notified. At the end of the game, the highest scoring player wins prizes from local businesses, through Kiip.
Our core concept was to mash up the world of digital competition and real-world competition. We took inspiration from console and PC gaming, such as shared voice chats. We thought it would be great if you could have that on the mountain, so we created a chat channel within JumpSquad called SquadSpeak. With SquadSpeak, as players execute, they can compliment or trash each other.
The Grow Hack theme was to make Whistler the most connected resort in the world. Our prototype, in that context, was to connect friends on the mountain and connect the mountain to the Whistler village.
“Kiip has the backdoor into real-world advertising.”
M: How did you work with Kiip?
TDH: Kiip was one of the buffet of technologies offered in the hackathon. It was incredible, because Kiip had pre-loaded a bunch of rewards relevant to the Whistler environment. It allowed us to create that moment when a player gets the top jump score and sees the Kiip reward pop up in their goggles. Kiip put the cherry on top of our demo.
We took advantage of Kiip’s core value prop to get users to engage during achievement moments in our game. Advertisers have tried to do SMS text ads or location-based ads, but because of how Kiip fits into real-time use, it works better. Once you bring that into wearables, Kiip has the backdoor into real-world advertising.
We were also really fortunate to have Brian arrive at the right time to help us with integration and get us past a couple issues. It was amazing to have the Kiip reward there for the demo finale, and it’s not often that the CEO personally helps you debug.
M: How did you come up with the idea for JumpSquad?
TDH: The real motivator was to create a product, capture people’s imaginations and fit into what Whistler Blackcomb is about: mountain sports. We wanted to create something that would be plausible as a real-world product and fit right in to Whistler.
The night before the competition, we brought a whiteboard with us to the hotel and a stroke of genius came. We brainstormed through a few ideas and laid out architecture with markers. The day of, we had a bit of a last-minute pivot of which tech stack we used in the backend. But the Kiip rewards that Phil came up with the day of the competition were perfect. Kiip became our stretch goal.
M: What was running through your head when they declared Daft Hack the winner?
TDH: When we arrived, we were surprised by just how many teams showed up – there were 24 teams that participated. We knew some of the people on the other teams. There was one guy, Ian MacKinnon, and we saw him and thought, “oh there’s going to be some serious competition.” When we won, it felt pretty good.
M: Will users be able to download the app soon?
TDH: At the end of the 30-hour hackathon, it’s still a work in progress. It’s not yet up on the app stores, but we’re kicking around ideas about how we want to take it forward.
M: Any last thoughts about the hackathon?
TDH: The organization of the event was great. The sponsors were really supportive; it was cool to grab Brian and get him to help us. Between everyone, it was a very positive experience. We’re very happy with that.
Rewards lead to higher engagement among users and better monetization for developers. 84 percent of mobile users say they prefer mobile rewards vs. ads, and over 3,000 games and apps already use Kiip to monetize. Learn more about Kiip at kiip.me/developers.