By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
But helping one dog wasn’t enough, he said.
He wanted to do more, but he couldn’t adopt any more dogs. That’s where he got the idea for a mobile phone app to help match dogs with potential owners.
He signed up for the PayPal Battle Hack competition, held last weekend at TechShop in Round Rock, and he spent Saturday and Sunday working on the project.
It paid off.
On Sunday night, PayPal announced PayPup, Linwood’s app, won Battle Hack. The mobile phone app lists all dogs available for adoption from Austin Pets Alive along with a donation button for each dog to help pay for medical expenses.
Linwood, who also works as an adjunct professor in journalism at the University of Texas, received a laser-etched glass trophy and an 4.3 pound 21-inch solid steel axe trophy.
PayPal will fly him and nine other city winners to the world finals in San Jose in November for one last hack-off where one team will receive a $100,000 grand prize.
So far, PayPal has had competitions in New York, Miami, Seattle and now Austin in the U.S., said Jonathan LeBlanc, developer evangelist at PayPal. It has held international Battle Hack competitions in Tel Aviv, Moscow and Berlin. It still plans Battle Hacks in Washington, DC., London and Barcelona.
“We chose Austin for its innovative culture,” LeBlanc said. “The city is known as a place that is changing the technology industry and creating start ups.”
More than 150 people signed up for the Battle Hack. At TechShop, the hackers had access to laser machines, 3-D printers and all kinds of software and hardware throughout the weekend.
They also had plenty of food and many teams stayed up for days on end.
Tap to Pay, a hardware hack that turns a Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a keyboard, and mobile phone into a mobile payment system, received second place. Lana Jones and Alejandro Vidal created Tap to Pay. They met at the event and worked until 4 a.m. Sunday morning to finish their hack.
“It allows for small transactions on the fly,” Jones said. A kid can use one at the lemonade stand to take payments from customers, she said.
Jones programmed a Raspberry Pi to communicate with a mobile phone to allow for payments anywhere with a simple tap of the phone on the device. It only costs $35.
Trust in Dragons, a crowdfunding platform for non-government organizations that ensures transparency and accountability with gamifaction features, received third place.
The focus of the Battle Hack competitions is to reconnect with PayPal’s developer community, said LeBlanc with PayPal.The company’s developer tools and API were focused primarily on web transactions until recently when the company began to focus more on mobile payments.
“What we are seeing with the Battle Hack competitions is a complete culture shift at PayPal,” LeBlanc said. “PayPal’s President David Marcus has made it clear that our goal is to fix and make better our infrastructure for the developer community.”
The sponsors of the event included Twilio, SendGrind, Microsoft and Nokia. They also gave out sponsor prizes to the teams.
The other teams pitching their projects at the Austin PayPal Battle Hack:
SafeWalk – an app that scrapes the latest crime data and mashes it up with Google maps to show people a safe route home.
TipTastic – an app that lets people tip food truck operators, musicians, street performers, artists or anyone. It’s geared at people who don’t carry cash but who like to tip.
Green Building – real time monitoring of energy consumption in a building, which charges people for over-use.
DoGooder – a mobile phone and web-based app that turns volunteering and donating into a game with levels, badges and the ability to achieve Superhero status.
Missing Hippo – a mobile phone app that integrates GPS with maps and enables people to find lost pets and collect rewards.
ForwardFundr – a crowdfunding app for donating money and volunteer hours to beautification projects in a community.
AUsome Carpool – a mobile phone app which makes chipping in for carpooling easier.