AT&T Mobile App Hackathon San Diego Recap

I had the pleasure of attending the first San Diego Mobile App Hackathon at Qualcomm Headquarters in San Diego. I was really impressed by the developer turnout, quality of speakers and overall enthusiasm for mobile development. One of the central ideas nearly everyone mentioned was using HTML5 to bring more function and consistency to mobile apps across all platforms.  The event was put on by the great folks at Ansir Innovation Center. Here’s a recap they were gracious enough to provide.


Hi everyone! My name is Wesley Quach, Community Manager at the Ansir Innovation Center, a new startup incubator and coworking office in San Diego. Most recently, we partnered with the AT&T Developer Program and Qualcomm for the first AT&T Mobile App Hackathon in San Diego. Our role was to reach out to local sponsors, and to help market and facilitate the event.

The morning of the hackathon started with check-in, followed by an introduction by Alex Donn from the AT&T Developer Program and presentations by Sencha, Apigee, Phone Gap, AppMobi, and Qualcomm. The presentations concluded with attendees pitching ideas for a mobile app in hopes of getting a team together.

Attendees had 6+ hours of coding time with senior developers roaming the floor to assist when needed. At the 6PM deadline, a total of 22 mobile apps were submitted.

The Overall Winners

1st – Last Call – A map based anonymous texting app using Twilio’s call integration

2nd – Fokemon – A game that lets you battle your Facebook friends against each other, Pokemon style

3rd – Event Finder – Find fun and interesting events in your area

Prizes included Apple gift cards, an Apple TV, iPad 2, plenty of swag from sponsors and Ansir Innovation Center gave 1 to 3 months of free incubation space to the top winners.

The hackathon attracted over 170 attendees throughout the course of the day, from experienced developer “ninjas” to people with zero coding background.

It’s awesome to see the San Diego mobile app developer community growing and we plan to do another big Mobile App Hackathon in 8-10 months, hope to see you all there!


I took some time to speak with Hackathon winner Alex Rolek about his mobile application Last Call. Alex, along with friend Justen Palmer built their winning entry in about 6 hours using Twilio and Sencha Touch. Last Call is a location based communication network which anonymously connects users based on a map point of interest. Participants may create posts on the map in their current location, or anywhere else across the globe. Other participants may anonymously reply to posts or start a live chat, upping the level of interaction. If the participants decide to take it to the next level, they can be placed in a voice conference room, all while keeping all personal information private. It’s a really interesting concept that’s sure to foster new and unique conversations.

In this video, Alex describes Last Call in his own words:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9cRJ1iC67g[/youtube]

The San Diego Hackathon was unique in that it focused on mobile application development. Like many of us, web development was Alex’s primary skill set. I asked Alex what it was like transitioning from web to mobile applications development, and what technologies were unique to his project.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FUdXonV2oU[/youtube]

The Last Call application makes use of SMS messaging and conference calling provided by Twilio. I asked Alex about his experience integrating  Twilio into a  mobile application.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poLHgkWKkNA[/youtube]

Last Call took the top prize of the day! Here Alex describes what it’s like to win a hackathon – an experience that’s both exciting and exhausting!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apEjlZCRvZg[/youtube]

Alex Rolek is founder of design and development company TinyFactory.co. He brings great energy and technical vision to his projects. We’re glad to have him involved in the San Diego tech scene!

Photo Credits: Brian Vogelsang