Leadership investigate

Locationally takes out SAPI hackathon

Eight days and 14 applications later, an app focusing on the best location to open new businesses takes home a $10,000 investment.

From the initial elevator pitches of last weekend, there was one idea that led the field in the SAPI hackathon, and that was Locationally.


Eric Bae giving the winning pitch
(Credit: Sensis)

Created by Eric Bae, Locationally focuses on finding the best location to start a new business. To see it in action, head over to the demo page and type in cafes to see a sample report.

Not only did Bae take home the $10,000 investment from start-up incubator Pollenizer, but he also won the $250 for best elevator pitch on the opening day — not bad for a one-man show. Bae also picked up a prize in SAPI's previous hackathon in Melbourne last year.

"I came to the SAPI hackathon with an idea in mind and I spent my first Saturday just trying to build a primitive prototype. I wanted to see how it would turn out and at least get some early feedback from the mentors," Bae said.

"During the week, I spent about four or five hours building the minimum viable product, which I wanted to show to friends for further feedback. And I spent another one or two hours emailing, or on the phone talking to different people about my idea. My main goal was to validate whether it actually had any commercial viability."

"Currently, SAPI is definitely one of the core parts of Locationally and I plan to stay that way. SAPI is actually one of the fastest APIs I've used over the years, and from a developer's point, that's a huge plus."

Pollenizer's involvement will also be extended to Nathan Waters and Tristan Grace, who also received enrolment into Pollenizer's incubator program albeit without the winning prize cash injection. Waters and Grace created Yellow Fridge, a Pinterest-inspired social aggregator for restaurants, or in non-start-up cliché terms, a site that shows what restaurants your friends enjoy.

The format of the hackathon was an interesting split-weekend model; the teams got together last Saturday and had the next seven days to work on their ideas before presenting their final pitches yesterday. Expecting a number of teams to ditch over the intervening week, it was surprising to see no total team loss — only one team disbanded, with the remnants of it moving onto another idea. I expected that the participants still at university would have a leg up on the competition by being able to devote more time during the week, but was proved wrong by the winner being an employed software engineer.

"I believe this format really challenged the participants, because you have to stay quite focused and motivated, not just for a weekend, but for a week! And while that is a challenge, I think in the end, you obviously see more polished and mature concepts/products and teams out of it than a set of quickly hacked apps," said Bae.

"I am an avid developer/hacker and I think that plays a huge part in these events. I think all those side projects (regardless of how silly they are), really helped me sharpen my skills."

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Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

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