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How winning Apps World North America's 2013 Hackfest helped fuel Reincloud's growth

It’s been a busy twelve months for ReinCloud’s CEO Dan Reitan since winning at the TV Hackfest at Apps World North America in 2013. Chosen as the Best Overall Hack at the show by judges from the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and CNN, Dan Reitan and his colleague Ping Bartley from ReinCloud entered TV Hackfest at Apps World North America 2013 as the ARGTV team. The seed-stage next gen media technology company specialises in delivering multiscreen viewer engagement solutions through augmented reality gamification. “What we showed was our ability to 3D map the TV screen content and place objects and characters that you can optionally interact with to engage with your TV,” says Reitan.

As the 2014 show rapidly approaches we catch up with Dan to find out how the win has changed his life and what he will be presenting at the show this year – and of course asking if he thinks he can win again in the future!

How he got involved

Reitan admits he was a hackathon virgin before the TV Hackfest event last year. “It was the first hackfest I had done in my career and I didn’t know what to expect,” he says. His initial aim, he says, was to get some visibility for the work he and his colleague were doing, as well as networking to build up the company’s profile. Winning, he says, was the icing on the cake.

How he felt when he won

“I was a little numb because I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night and so we didn’t really realise what we had won at first,” he laughs. “It was a little surreal because I wasn’t expecting first prize.”

“Winning at Hackfest was an exciting experience. I had never personally participated in any kind of hackathon competition before at any level. I was somewhat surprised to see how international and intense the competition was, and of course, when the time came, delighted to win, despite dealing with some serious sleep deprivation,” he says.

After that he admits life went a little crazy with press interest in the win and interviews post event. “The place had filled up while the demos were going on and the room was packed. Suddenly we were in the spotlight and were the belle of the ball. I was just happy I didn’t collapse,” he says. He advises fellow entrants to have a basic PR strategy in place in case of a win to maximise the opportunities it offers: “We weren’t geared up to push it into the local Silicon Valley trades, but it offers a great opportunity for national and local PR,” he says.

What he has done since the win

The TV Hackfest win has accelerated the development plans for ReinCloud. “What we are doing is not just an app - we have a lot of technology wrapped up in our engines behind the app - a lot of IP that has required a lot of protecting. We’ve accomplished quite a bit in terms of industrializing the product. The focus has been fundraising, building up the supporting engines, and, of course, the patents,” he says, adding that a growing market awareness seems to be helping. By February he hopes that funding will have been achieved – with the company speaking to both super angels and venture capital companies. The company is then looking to ship in the second quarter.

How the win has helped his business

As the profile of hackathons, and the value of developers taking part in them grows, so the value of winning is growing. “It certainly gets recognition and opens doors. It was also huge in terms of professional recognition because I've received job inquiries and requests to compete, attend and speak at other world-class events - even one from China asking me to speak about augmented reality in Shanghai,” says Reitan. “We were considerably less funded than most of the other contestants at Hackfest and won the competition while still "in the garage". Winning the award helped considerably with our clipboard, and helped to attract investment, board members, advocates, article placement, team additions, event invitations, and facilitate other top-tier networking,” he says.

“In the weeks that followed, we received considerable press coverage, including worldwide print, online and TV news, including Bloomberg Business Week, The London Herald, STL Today, SlashDot, Social TV Update, GNT, appmarket.tv, and literally hundreds of others from all over the world. We could barely spell PR when we won the award and had to scramble to keep up with the publicity generated by the event.
Since winning the Hackfest, we have been approached by top industry platforms, and are currently in negotiation with some large media concerns,” he says.

This year, Reitan will be exhibiting ARGTV on the Apps World Exhibition Floor, showcasing how ReinCloud's winning entry delivers leading-edge next gen media capabilities on a number of top platforms, including a recent winner at CES. He is not planning to compete in Hackfest this year, citing his focus on bringing the product to market, though he adds "my next startup will definitely compete in the Apps World Hackfest!"