Microsoft Ventures in India organized its first-ever "HackDay" on Saturday, November 9th in Bangalore. HackDays, HackNights and Hackathons are typically organized by big technology companies, inviting developers to build hacks on their APIs - but this is the first time startups got a chance to showcase their APIs to the developer community.
Portfolio companies benefitted because giving them an interim milestone for development helped them work faster toward their own long-term goals. And for the first time external developers had a chance to play with cutting edge technology being created by startups, and also got a birds-eye view into Microsoft Ventures. Some of the hackers are also likely to receive job offers from startups.
Developers were invited to hack on APIs of six of our portfolio companies - Cloudinfra, Frrole, Native5, Nanobi, NowFloats and SupportBee. Developers got access to the latest and most innovative technologies being developed by these companies. All the company co-founders were around to help and advise the hackers.
"Our objective was to enable developers with working knowledge of HTML5 to create applications across platforms. Over the course of 6 hours, Native5 Platform successfully enabled three group of developers, not just to create but deploy applications on desktop and mobile," said Kunal Abhishek, co-founder of Native5.
A total of 17 teams were formed - the overall enthusiasm on the floor was very high. None of the teams were seen dropping out or slacking off at any time. Including a short lunch break, the teams were hacking non-stop till 6 pm after which they presented their hacks to the team of judges-- Pradeep Banavara, technology lead, Microsoft Ventures, Kiran Jonnalagadda, founder, HasGeek and Mrinal Jain, Integrated Systems Sales Specialist and Cloud Computing expert at IBM.
Each hack was evaluated on the following criteria--technology, design, value proposition, inspiration and completeness. Finally, after several rounds of debate, the judges picked five winning hacks while a sixth almost made the cut. These six are; Aman, Python Wrapper for SupportBee, Fixivik, EnlightUs, LiftOff and HackFloaters.
Microsoft Ventures gave out a Nokia Lumia 520 handset to each of the winning teams while HasGeek announced free DroidCon tickets and StartupWeekend gave away two free tickets.
The participating startups were happy with the outcomes of the hacks and said they discovered a few use-cases they had never thought of earlier. They just wished they had more time to explore these amazing APIs.
In closing, Ravi Narayan, director, Microsoft Ventures in India, said "It looks like we have found a very effective grassroots engagement model to work with the developers and startups and plan to do this on a regular basis."