Tag Archives: inmobi

The InMobi #freedomhack had 200+ registrations and some amazing ideas

On Sunday I had an opportunity to judge the InMobi #freedomhack. Mohit Saxena, who cofounded InMobi, invited me to be a part of the event which attracted over 200 teams to hack for Aaron Swartz.

I think they had not anticipated such a large crowd to show up, so only 47 teams were chosen among the 200+ teams that submitted their hack ideas.

As an aside, I love hackathons. There’s something about a) hanging out with developers, b) hearing some really raw interesting ideas and c) building something from scratch that makes me happy.

I only had about 2 hours to be there since I had to go to judge another hackathon, but here are 7 ideas that I enjoyed learning about. I wish these hacks would go on to become some very interesting products. These were not the “winners”, but are the ones that I liked the most. In no particular order, here they are:

1. Socket_Timeout: This idea involved an integration with your calendar to look for “downtimes”, during key long weekends, etc. and suggest trips that you can take. It will then curate the best pictures from Flickr and Instagram in the key locations and “motivate” you to go there. They also help you with the entire planning (when to book tickets, when to book hotel, etc.) by looking, at your calendar for periods of “downtime” to help you get these tasks done.

2. WiseViz. There’s loads of data and many ways to represent the data with charts and graphs. Folks like me though, never know what the best way to show some piece of data is. This app will integrate with your data source and suggest the best way to visualize that data.

3. Lazy: Email platform with an appstore. Email products such as Gmail and Outlook have extensions and add-ins, but imagine an very simple email client (web or mobile) which has an appstore where you can add any number of “apps” as you please. If you dont like the “compose” feature that comes standard, you can choose from any number of “compose apps”. Another e.g. If FedEx sends you an email saying here is your tracking number and a link to their website, their app, instead, can directly show you the status of our package without you leaving your email client or clicking on the URL. I love the concept of email app store actually.

4. Miners: All Street Journal curates news and assigns latitude and longitude to each of them (where possible) to help you get a sense of what’s happening where. A map interface shows all the news (instead of a stream of news, which is currently the norm) with pins to show you the “hyper” location of the news. You can have filters such as crime news and create a heatmap of where specific categories of news are more prevalent. Great view of hyperlocal news.

5. Alpha-Devs: A mobile app, which will check the status of the person you are trying to call (who you have to know and connect with in the app), and suggest the best time to call based on their calendar, status message, location, etc.

6. Xteenz Hack: A hackathon voting app. It allows you to review all the hack abstracts and upvote / downvote ideas submitted and continue to refine half-baked ideas.

7. Finzo: a Peer-to-peer bitttorrent-enabled device that takes all the “free” data on the web – Khan Academy and Wikipedia for example and makes them available offline for people in rural / remote areas without constant Internet access.

The top 3 winners for the #freedom hack were – Power Train – a hyper local security for women / children app, Loners – allows you to connect with other lonely people near you to play games or chat online and Miners.

P.S. If you get a chance to go visit the InMobi offices, you should. They have the coolest office I have seen in Bangalore by a wide margin. Photos of the space on Facebook.

The mystery of success and the articulation of failure

Yesterday a comment was made about why I dont interview successful founding teams instead of focusing on why founding teams split. Actually I did. I spoke at length with Sachin from Flipkart a few weeks ago as I have done several times with Amit Gupta of InMobi and Phani of Redbus and Vivek of Interview street.

Successful people are loathe to describe their success, often talking about “luck” and most often calling themselves “not yet successful”.

Those that failed, however, at anything are often able to point to 1-3 things that they believe were the reasons they did not take off.

I think its relatively easy to assume that 100 things need to go right to be successful, whereas only a few things (or in some cases 1 thing) needs to go right to be a failure.

That directly contradicts my core hypothesis that in any given startup its never one thing that causes failure but a series of things that are not executed well – back to Mark Suster’s comment about lines not dots.

I also think most people analyze failure a lot more since it hurts. That’s a contradiction as well. I ¬†would think most people would not like to think about things that are not “fond memories”. Turns out we remember bad things better because they affect our memory systems more. There’s research that suggests this to be true.

Still that does not explain why people cant articulate success as well as failure. Or am I just asking the wrong questions of the wrong people?