Hackathon – The Week After

“I had such a wonderful time at the Solid Earth Hackathon. When they presented their apps, I was fascinated to see what was created and how each actually could fill a void in the real estate space. I especially liked the analytics app and the broker recruiting app. Brilliant! Great people, great venue, great event!”

That’s what our friend and Huntsville broker Elizabeth Cooper Golden had to say about her time at the Solid Earth hackathon. Thanks to Elizabeth for making the drive and sharing her comments. We hosted many other dignitaries as well. Greg Moore, VP of Technical Systems from RMLS in Portland, OR made the trip (thanks again, Greg). Peter Elger, Director of Engineering at Dublin, Ireland tech firm, nearForm made the long journey to be with us as well.

Because it was a co-sponsored event with the GreaterAlabamaMLS, we hosted CEO Cliff Long and several members of his leadership team.

Our people put a lot of time into planning the hackathon and outside of the significant logistical hurdles involved, a lot of that was spent talking about how we’d define success coming out of the event. So, now, a week and some change later, we’re having a little retrospective on just that.

Was this hackathon successful?

Yes. Our goal was simple. We wanted to bring in top talent to hit the Spring API and do something incredible. Bring some great ideas, use the data to turn those ideas into proof of concept mini-projects with some exposure to local professionals; leadership, brokers and their peers.

[drum roll] Here are the winners:

1st place – Seth Siegler of Hoverboard Labs – Seth’s agent recruiting tool used an algorithm he created to predict future agent statistics with the added ability to put agents of interest on a “watch list”.

Seth said, “I had a blast at the Solid Earth hackathon. It was exciting to see this kind of progressive initiative being taken by an MLS and an MLS vendor. There’s a lot to be done in the real estate industry and things like this can really get the ball rolling. The API was amazingly easy to work with and provided nice flexibility to do pretty much anything with the IDX data without having to deal with importing, storing or updating data.”

2nd place -Ninja App from Zappend – The location-based mobile search app is meant for the end user to be able to locate and examine properties automatically in their surrounding area based on categories they choose within their search.

Honorable Mention – Robb Dempsey from Solid Earth – His listing analytics product showed listing information, where traffic originated, views verses impressions over time, and average time spent looking at listings. Robb couldn’t win of course. He works for us.

The judges were Kelli Gunnells Associate Broker, Realty South, Chuck Sparks Broker/ Trainer/ Director of Innovations, E21 Realty and Juhmad Hollis Associate Broker, Sil-loh Properties, LLC

By Friday afternoon, it was clear that we’d brought together some amazingly talented people. Not only that, but they were great to be around; serious yet gregarious and each shared a common vision – to use this API to do something no one had ever seen before.

I don’t believe that anyone – not the developers or anyone with Solid Earth or anyone that came down to check things out – left without seeing something that caused a “wow” moment. The results were that cool.

What does it mean in a broader sense? Well, there have been other real estate hackathons and there will certainly be many more. At Solid Earth, we believe we have a responsibility to keep this fire burning for others to see.

Real innovation (a word too often used these days) seems to emanate from the young, hungry and determined minds just starting to wake up to the possibilities of clean, approachable, real estate data. Their excitement is contagious.

Great change and advances are born in these environments. Did we start something at our hackathon that will bring about great change and technical advancement within our industry? Maybe, maybe not. What matters is that there are people out there willing to try. We want to know them, empower them to do great things for our clients.

For them, we hope there will always be a place where that effort is identified and nurtured.

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