Battle of the Braces Recap: Treat Yo Dog and App Texts Win Big

A couple weeks ago, there was a showdown in NYC. The city’s best hackers came together for Battle of the Braces Round 3: Ruby and Python hosted at HQ. The goal was to build an app quickly, cleanly, and efficiently, all while entertaining the wildest of ideas. Hackers built apps to feed their dogs via text, change all the images on a webpage to pictures of ponies, and convert a meet up into an interactive assassins-style game.

We spoke with Eric Matzner and Matan Griffel  of App Texts, which was the overall winner of the hackathon. We also caught up with Nancy Yi Lang of Treat Yo Dog, the dog-friendly app that took home the Twilio prize.

Treat Yo Dog Via SMS

Nancy Liang

To those asking why Nancy built an app that allows her to remotely give her dog, Ajax, a treat I simply ask: Have you seen her dog? He’s adorable, and he even has his own website.

Nancy rewards Ajax for good behavior with treats, so she built a robot treat dispenser with Twilio’s API to reward him via text. Nancy said that using Twilio’s API was “common sense and took very little code to get stuff working.”

While the Treat Yo Dog prototype is admittedly, “made of Dixie Cups, Scotch Tape, and paperclips and Twilio stickers for decoration,” Nancy says she has plans for alternative dispensing mechanisms, and video streaming to see your dog while you’re away.

Get Downloads with App Texts

Eric Matzner

Eric and Mattan were sick of how “convoluted a process it is to go from an app’s website to downloading the app on your phone.” Their goal was to make sure an app user was one text away from purchase. The process works like this: a user sends a text via Twilio SMS to download an app. App Texts then uses their server to determine if the text was sent from an Android or iPhone, and connects to the correct store.


Mattan Griffel

Eric currently runs NatMobi and Mattan is an expert growth developer, but the two will make time for App Texts. Eric says they’re currently “working on adding a payment solution and analytics” and hoping “App Texts will be the quickest and easiest way to get an app on a phone.”

To check out the other apps that were demoed at Battle of the Braces, you can see the full list here.

Hackers at work