Intuit last month held its first QuickBooks Connect Hackathon, which promised developers the opportunity to compete for $100,000 in prize money for creating apps for small businesses using QuickBooks Online.
Method, the developer of a popular CRM solution for QuickBooks users, won the $55,000 grand prize with its Method:Donations app, which allows donors and nonprofits to make and accept charitable donations without leaving the QuickBooks environment.
The remaining $45,000 in prize money was split among three other entries:
- PaymentsCloud — Developed by Cloud Conversion, this app enables users to integrate their Salesforce.com accounts with Quickbooks Online to streamline sales, quoting and payments.
- SafetyNet — According to Avi Golan, Intuit's Developer Group vice president and general manager, data backup is an "in-demand feature gap of QuickBooks Online." To fill it, Jobber developed an app that allows QuickBooks Online users to take snapshots of their data and restore it quickly.
- ServiceTitan — The winner in the New Feature for Existing App category, the company behind this field service management tool added QuickBooks Online integration.
"We were thrilled to have such a talented group of developers onsite at QuickBooks Connect as we unveiled our new developer experience and to participate in the hackathon, and were truly overwhelmed by the creativity we saw," Golan told me. "All 45 entries into the hackathon were innovative and impressive, and our judging panel had a difficult job of picking the winners. We would like to see all the entrants on the Apps.com marketplace, providing value and essential services to our global small business customers."
Hackathons have become a fixture in the technology industry and are widely used by companies to engage developers and get them using their APIs. But not all companies are able to translate hackathon activity into tangible progress for their platforms. In fact, hackathons are far too frequently the place where promising integrations are born and die.
That obviously wasn't an outcome Intuit was interested in. As Lori Fraleigh, Intuit's director of developer relations, told me before the QuickBooks Connect Hackathon, "The primary goal of the hackathon is to inspire developers to create value-added Web applications that build on the power of the QuickBooks Online ecosystem. Ultimately, we are looking to get as many developers as possible onto the platform so that it can effectively serve as many small businesses around the world as possible — regardless of size or vertical."
In an effort to ensure that its inaugural hackathon helps it achieve that goal, Intuit tied the distribution of prize money to the launch of the winners' apps in Intuit's app store, Apps.com. And post-hackathon, it's providing the winners with additional resources so that they can make those apps launch-ready.
"Over the weeks and months following QuickBooks Connect, we’ll be reaching out to our winners to ensure they have the support they need to complete their application," Intuit's Golan told me. "We’ll help them connect to both small-business customers and accountants to beta test the application and provide real-world feedback before they launch. We plan to offer them the chance to further the relationships they built at the hackathon and come to our campus to work side by side with our developers if they wish."
With the number of hackathons growing, expect to see more companies follow Intuit's lead, recognizing that the success of their hackathons depends just as much on what happens after the event as what happens during it.