Hackathon organizers, meet your savior.
ChallengePost, a New York City startup that focuses on software competitions (and is known for powering software events from the White House, NYC, and Ford), announced today that it will open up its platform as a free tool for managing hackathons.
Your typical hackathon is a an adrenalin, code, and Red Bull-fueled frenzy where developers have a short amount of time to create a working program. But when it comes to managing the festivities and making sure all of the great work from participants doesn’t evaporate into the digital ether, there haven’t been many useful tools. You could build a webpage, or use something like Tumblr, but those solutions don’t help wit the process of actually judging a hackathon competition.
With ChallengePost, organizers get a free platform for promoting hackathons, taking submissions, dealing with judging, and handing out prizes. It’s already been used by the PennApps hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania, MHacks at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and HackMIT, all of which had more than 1,000 developers.
ChallengePost originally started out by powering competitions of all kinds, but it’s now focusing more on software competitions, founder and chief executive Brandon Kessler said in an interview.
“The idea that we’re focusing on software means we’re solving problems that didn’t exist when I started the company,” he said. “Software is eating the world [borrowing a phrase from Marc Andreessen], everything is turning into platforms right before our eyes.”
The good news for ChallengePost: Since everything is becoming a platform, there needs to be someone out there who can help platform makers determine which software is best.
With so many programming methodologies promoting speed, we’ll eventually need faster ways of determining great software from junk. It’s natural selection meets software. But Kessler doesn’t see ChallengePost’s role entirely like that:
“It’s Darwinism not in the sense that developers are competing with each other … the prizes are not the reason people are entering these competitions, we want to showcase anyone that submits,” Kessler said. “If there’s any element of Darwinisnm around it, we’re helping facilitate platforms of new and existing companies, killing the old companies that have not yet become platforms,” he added.
While ChallengePost covers hackathons for free, it charges for long-form challenges that last several months, like the recent MTA App Quest in NYC. Looking ahead, Kessler tells me he’s exploring ways to power software challenges year-round.
“We want to be the best place in the world to showcase your software,” he said.
ChallengePost has raised $4.6 million so far from Opus Capital, Esther Dyson, Betaworks, and others.