Grouper Teams Up With Airbnb & Hipmunk To Offer Engineers & Designers A Free “Hackation” In New York

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Great design and developer talent is, as so many know, hard to come by. So online social club Grouper is launching what it calls a “Hackation” in which it plans to offer select developers a free, week-long trip to New York City. On this week-long trip, thanks to partnerships with Airbnb and Hipmunk, developers and designers will get the opportunity to visit NYC (which means free airfare from anywhere in the continental U.S.), free accommodations for six nights (from Airbnb), they get to work out of the Grouper offices and either hack on a Grouper project or one of their own. Oh, and they get to go on a free Grouper, too.

When I asked Grouper co-founder Michael Waxman why the startup was doing this, he said that there’s no reason why great hackers wouldn’t enjoy a week-long vacation in NYC, with the chance to take a break from the norm. For Grouper, they’re busy hacking away and building their own business, and Waxman said that for the team, it’s a great way to feed off the energy of great designers and developers and experiment with new ideas. As far as he knows, no one has done this before, but he thinks it can be a win-win for both.

This isn’t necessarily a covert ploy to hire new developers, he said, or steal ideas from indie developers, but rather collaborate on product development, and if they hit it off with the Hackation, they would be willing to talk more seriously about bringing them on board. Really, it just seems like a great way to Hoover up some new ideas and feedback without having to pay $150K/year for top talent.

Plus, Waxman says, the startup is “at an inflection point” and they just “need some extra hands on deck.” There’s nothing like a Hackationer (Zinc Oxide sunscreen on nose, “I love NYC” t-shirt on-back) to help your team iterate on those new matching algorithms. And to that point, what will you get to hack on?

From Grouper:

We’re tackling the hard and largely uncharted terrain of the online-offline divide: logistics optimizations, matching algorithms, a real-time CRM we built from scratch, never-before-attempted feats on mobile, and much more. Scaling a website to a billion impressions a month is boring at this point (we’ve been there), but solving these problems is not.

After launching a year ago, the Y Combinator grad is growing fast. Last month, Grouper expanded its unique spin on group, blind dating into 10 new cities. As you can tell by the “social club” moniker, it prefers not to be thought of as a dating site at all, but rather as a better way to get off your lazy ass and meet new people. Instead, Grouper uses Facebook and its own matching algorithms to pair groups of three friends at popular local joints where they can meet for drinks, dinner and riveting conversation. You pay in advance and Grouper takes care of the logistics. It’s a smart play, especially considering how many of us find ourselves spending too much time in virtual settings and working after hours.