Following on from Tim’s post about our hackathon adventuring in Europe over the past week, it’s my turn to highlight some of the excellence that came out of our time at the Kings of Code ‘Hack Battle’ during The Next Web conference that took place last week in Amsterdam.

After taking the rather scenic train from Paris, Tim and I arrived in Amsterdam to discover that I’d booked myself into a hotel 120 miles away from where we were supposed to be. Several confused minutes later Spotify Hacker Advocate, and fellow Hack Battle supporter, Andrew Mager rocks up with some local knowledge of a place we can stay. Crisis averted, I no longer have to commute 240 miles a day.

This is the first time I’ve done the Kings of Code Hack Battle at this time of year, although it’s SendGrid’s fourth time supporting. I hit the smaller Kings of Code conference and hackathon last December to hack on apps and do a talk about real time technologies.

Organiser Sam Wierema and his team rarely disappoint on both location and food. The conference and the hack battle take place in the awesome Westergasfabriek buildings to the west of Amsterdam city centre; a series of converted gas works buildings that now serve as perfect event spaces.

We were housed in the Machinegebouw building where over the next 24 hours, 30 hacks were created by teams from all over Europe. I met hackers from the UK, Sweden, Poland, France and Spain during my chats.

I won’t go into specifics on the food, but it wasn’t typical hack day food, and there were meat pies. Pies are a good thing.

Fast forward to demo time and things unfold a little differently at this Hack Battle. Normally, at the end of an event, the developers would present what they’ve made to each other, everyone gets it, everyone has some beers and goes home, possibly with some awesome schwag in hand. At the Kings of Code Hack Battle, you present your hack on stage during The Next Web conference in front of an audience who, although interested, probably aren’t as technically savvy as a room full of devs. This can be quite intimidating, especially when you can see the countdown clock in front of you getting closer to zero and you haven’t even got to the point of showing what you made.

Our favourite, and winner of “Best SendGrid Hack,” was Professional Invaders by Alexander de LeonAlessandro Bahgat. A take on Space Invaders that lets you fire paper balls at your LinkedIn contacts that even has a “boss mode” that you can trigger by sending email to the app (powered by SendGrid’s Inbound Parse Webhook, of course).

It was a really fun hack that everyone in the audience got to participate in during the demos. Brilliantly done.

Other notable demos were from, a track at a time, pass-it-on style collaborative playlist (which took home the overall prize) and Silent Discow, a proximity based phone app that only streams the same tracks to those in your immediate vacinity.

Need more? Sure! All the hacks from the event are on the Kings of Code Wiki.

Martyn Davies is a Developer Evangelist at SendGrid and a creative developer based in London. He has worked in technology for over 14 years with a background in both the music industry and technology. A serial hackathon organiser, mentor and startup advisor, you’ll find him presenting, demoing, hacking and chatting at hack days, conferences and meetups in the UK & Europe on a regular basis.