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Enterprise Apps World Hackfest victory proves it’s ‘alWright’ to be a beginner

Our Hackfest’s always deliver interesting stories of innovation and creation with an element of surprise thrown in for good measure but at Enterprise Apps World last week the story was more unusual than the norm. The overall winner hadn’t even signed up as an entrant and was actually working as an audio visual technician at the event – proving that anyone can win! We interviewed him after his win to find out more...

It may sound corny but for audio visual technician Nigel Wright winning the Hackfest at Enterprise Apps World was all in a day’s work -- quite literally. He’d had the desire to write his own app for years and had even bought the domain and name for one. “I’m still paying for it and still haven’t built it,” he laughs. Where one idea hadn’t even got off the ground his plans for a second failed completely when he tried his hand at coding. “I fell at the first hurdle and couldn’t understand any of it. It was all gibberish,” he says.

Though his job means he is technically savvy he admits he doesn’t have the coding skills of many traditional hackathon entrants and so had never thought of entering a hackathon – particularly as he was actually working at Enterprise Apps World this June rather than being there to take part.

Instead Wright was simply getting on with his job when he fell into conversation with one of our hackathon sponsors at the event and mentioned his desire to build an app but the challenges he had faced in doing so. “We got chatting and I told him about trying to build an app before. He was saying how Progress’ software was really easy and said I should try again,” says Wright.

“I’d had an idea for an app for a version of Trump cards where people swap details and play a game electronically,” he says. During his breaks at the show Wright started playing around with the software and building. Unlike his first attempt this time Wright saw the seeds of his idea develop before his eyes.

When we heard what Wright was doing during his breaks at the show we were delighted and urged him to enter the hackathon too. We pride ourselves on ensuring the hackathon isn’t just open to hardcore hackers and developers but to anyone that has an idea that can be developed during the two days whether they have true coding knowledge or not.

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What Wright hadn’t realised (since he wasn’t in on the initial briefing) was that he would have to present his app at the end of the show alongside all his fellow contestants, explaining what he’d built and why. “I was lent an iPad to load up the app and did something I’ve never done and presented at a show,” he says. “I was really nervous but I thought it was five minutes and that would be it,” he says.

“I didn’t think in a million years I would win because there were programmers there that had been up all night and I was there doing the sound for the guy presenting the awards.” So he admits it was a bit of a surprise when he heard not only the name of his app read out but then his name too. He had won £200 worth of Amazon vouchers thanks to Progress who felt that Sport Idol was one of the best ideas to come out of the conference for an app created around the Commonwealth Games using their Progress Rollbase platform.

“I went up the first time which was surreal. They took photos of me and I took the certificate and prize and walked back to the sound desk and started operating it again,” says Wright. But not for long. His name was read out too for the best overall idea of the show and Wright was back in the spotlight collecting his plaque and thanking his parents and all that know him.

So has Wright got the hacking bug now? It seems so. “If I did develop something else I would look for it as a means to make money. I would certainly think about it,” he says. And would he recommend others enter the hackathon too? “Definitely. I didn’t think I could do it but I fulfilled a dream I’d had for ages and it’s certainly inspired me to keep developing ideas. Who knows I may one day even build my original app idea too,” he laughs.

Of course Wright wasn’t our only winner at the show. We had some great other entrants too. Congratulations to everyone who won and thank you to all who took part. Our next hackathonS will be at Apps World Europe at London’s ExCel from 12 to 13 November when we will be running a TV hackathon, wearables hackathon and a payments hackathon.

The other prizewinning ideas at the show:

Progress winners – Challenge – Build an app using Progress Rollbase (part of the Progress Pacific platform) that has been inspired by the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

3rd prize - £200 Amazon vouchers

Sport Idol – Nigel
A Top Trumps style game using Progress Rollbase databases to store data about each of the athletes to encourage children to engage with their favourite sports personalities

2nd prize - £500 Amazon vouchers

Commonwealth Games Quiz – BT team including Andrew, James, Hicham and Zeehan
A quiz around the Commonwealth games using Progress Rollbase databases

1st prize
- £1,000 Amazon vouchers

Commonwealth Events Guide – BT team including David, Royston, Daniel and Michael
An app to accompany the Commonwealth Games using Progress Rollbase to make sure those attending didn’t miss when their country competed in certain events

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– Challenge – the most forward thinking use of the SendGrid APIs, either in whole or part of what they end up building

2nd prize – Raspberry PI kit

Natter – Team from Openmind Networks – including Aidan, Ian and Brian
This was an attempt to combine instant messaging and email using emails sent by SendGrid

1st prize – Braven 57- Bluetooth speakers

Conference barcode scanner – Milo and Anthony
An app that allows you to scan someone's badge at a conference and then sends an email to you using SendGrid with the details of who you connected with

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Overall winner

Sport Idol - Nigel