Let’s be honest. You’re expecting the moral of this series of Ask Hackathon posts (see 1 and 2) to be, “Everybody won!” Not going to happen. Sorry. We’re proud, but we’re not cheesy.

We had actual winners, who won bona fide trophies and prizes for services that you’ll see launched later this year.

That said, everyone at the Hackathon had a good time, learned new stuff, and came up with strong concepts. It’s amazing what smart people can do when email and meetings are taken off the table for even one day. 

Welcome to the Science Fair

As you’ll recall, this Hackathon had a theme: services, both internal and external. VP of Project Management and Hackathon co-leader Alisa Barnes explains it thusly: “We want to be able to serve up answers anywhere by creating things that people are going to be able to use in more places—(for instance) that a third party could use or syndicate in some way.”

After the first day of brainstorming, concepting, and building came day two: presentations. Affectionately called “the science fair,” each team presents their concept, via demo and/or PowerPoint presentation, to a roving panel of judges: Alisa, VP of Engineering Nick McCann, EVP of Business Operations Shane McGilloway, Chief Product & Technology Officer Lisa Kavanaugh, and CEO Doug Leeds. 

One project leveraged Twitter, YouTube, open APIs, and widgets of various stripes. Another focused on user-specific page optimization to lower email bounce rates. Still another incorporated a real-time element to questions and answers that included live video. Our judges reviewed, listened, asked questions, and ultimately chose six finalists.

These finalists presented to the entire company, and were evaluated not just by the judges, but the company at large , plus a guest judge, Josh Meyer, CEO of People Media, who watched the presos via videoconference. 

It All Comes Down To This

Once the judges returned from their chambers (AKA Doug’s office), the winners were…a hashtag-aggregation service which won the Judges’ AND Audience awards, and the aforementioned video-driven Q & A service, which won the Peoples Choice award.

After the ceremonies, the victors headed back to their desks with trophies and new iPads and Apple TV devices. The judges made plans to regroup to see how many of these ideas could become integrated within the product roadmap. And everyone got a taste of where this company is headed. If we can get there, THEN everybody wins. 

Have any ideas for great new services? Share them in the comments below.

Just kidding. Please don’t do that. BUT, if you have any comments about this three-part series of Hackathon posts, we’d love to hear them. Especially the nice ones.

PS: if you want to work at a place that holds regular Hackathons, check out our job listings. We’re hiring!

—Ken Grobe, Ask.com