Late last month I attended my first hackathon as an official SendGrid Developer Evangelist, PayPal’s BattleHack New York. I have attended hackathons before and I even represented SendGrid at Hack4Colorado as part of my interview process. But this was my first time solo, with our New York-based evangelist at another event. This was also a first for BattleHack. PayPal had never done this event in the US. I was excited to see how it would go and the results were nothing short of amazing. The event ended with twenty-one teams presenting very high quality hacks. It was inspiring to see what the teams turned out in 24 hours.

The event started Saturday morning, with sponsor demos. This was to be my first time demoing SendGrid to a group of people. I had spent the entire day prior to the event working on my demo and accompanying materials. As it was my 21st birthday, I asked the audience to choose where I should get my first drink. It was exciting to show everyone what SendGrid can do and see the audience engage with the product.

My first demo. Photo Credit: @JonMarkGo of Twilio

Demos done, the hacking began. Participants split off into groups throughout AlleyNYC. I wandered the event, finding out what the teams were doing. I heard ideas ranging from apps facilitating public housing maintenance to a free market for parking spots.

As teams began to coding their ideas I offered help to anyone struggling. Doing everything from aiding teams in getting SendGrid running (always easy) to running through an OAuth Flow (always hard). As participants learned new concepts, it was awesome to see light bulbs go off and wheels turn.

PayPal pulled out all the stops for the event, bringing in masseuses and bartenders, keeping all the hackers happy and coding at their best. Hacking continued late into the night, and through morning, with many teams never sleeping.

Teams gave practiced demos on surprisingly well polished apps. Eight teams ended up interfacing with SendGrid and 311Repairs was awarded Braven Speakers for best use of our API.

The 311Repairs Team Accepting their Braven Speakers (Photo Credit: @PayPalDev)

The event was a blast. It was amazing to lend a hand to coders as they made their app ideas into reality. I enjoyed showing participants everything SendGrid could do to make their lives easier and give them more time to develop their app. I love my job and I can’t wait for the next event.

Nick Quinlan is a SendGrid Developer Evangelist based out of San Francisco. He works to make developers lives easier by providing them with the help they need to grow their ideas. Give him a shout, @YayNickQ.