Witness Wins The Disrupt NY 2015 Hackathon Grand Prize, Picorico And MoolahMe Are Runners Up

It’s been a long night at the Manhattan Center. Yesterday, we welcomed hundreds of hackers for my favorite spring tradition — the Disrupt NY Hackathon. Some of them were participating in our event for the first time, while others were regular hackers. Their challenge was to come up with a neat, funny and smart hack in just 24 hours.

We could all feel the excitement in the air when the 106 teams took the stage to present a short one-minute demo to impress fellow hackers and our judges. But only one team could take home the grand prize and $5,000. So, without further ado, meet the Disrupt NY 2015 Hackathon winner.

Winner: Witness

Witness is a panic button that takes advantage of everything your phone can do — and yet, it remains very easy to use. To activate Witness, you just need to launch the iPhone app and press the big red button. As soon as you activate it, it will call and text your emergency contacts.

In addition to alerting your friends and family, Witness will record your location, camera and microphone activity, and stream it over cellular and Wi-Fi to your emergency contacts in real time. In the meantime, your screen fades to black so that nobody can notice that you are streaming what’s happening.

The team didn’t use any third-party backend to handle the live-streaming code on the iPhone and server. In addition to being a very useful hack, Witness is also an impressive tech achievement. Read our separate post for all the information about Witness.

Runner-Up #1: Picorico

Picorico is a hardware device for modern downhill bikes. Today’s bikes have a lot of adjustability, but their performance is hard to measure. That’s why the team behind Picorico built an open-source telemetry system.

The team used off-the-shelf sensors and built a string encoder using a retractable key badge with a capacitive encoder. It’s quite impressive to see your suspension compression rates in real time while you play with the bike.

Runner-Up #2: MoolahMe

MoolahMe is a replacement for ATMs. The app allows you to broadcast cash requests to nearby users, and users around you can respond to your requests. After a cash hand-off, money is automatically settled on the cloud through a peer-to-peer payment service.

Hackathon Judges

Lisa Chow

Lisa is the co-host of StartUp, a documentary-style, serialized podcast focused on entrepreneurial life. The podcast is produced by Gimlet Media. Before joining Gimlet, Lisa worked as a senior editor at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s re-launched site at ESPN. She has also reported for NPR’s Planet Money, This American Life, Marketplace, and New York Public Radio. She has a BA in applied mathematics from Brown and an MBA from Columbia.

Haytham Elhawary

HaythamElhawary_PhotoHaytham is the cofounder of Kinetic, a wearable device startup aiming to reduce costly injuries amongst industrial workers. He was the director of City College’s Zahn Innovation Center, NYC’s first hardware startup incubator and is the founder of the NY hardware startup meetup. His professional experience includes developing medical robotics at both Philips Electronics and Harvard Medical School.

Haytham has a PhD from Imperial College London and a Mechanical Engineering degree from University of Navarra in Spain. He also reviews theater for the blog site Theatre is Easy and loves to do improvised comedy, although admittedly he’s not very good.

Jodie Fox

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 11.36.25Jodie is the Co-Founder and Co-Chief Creative Officer of Shoes of Prey. From a background in advertising and law, Jodie now applies her communication savvy and sense of style to her true passion: outfitting women around the world in beautiful shoes. Her role encompasses product development, public relations and being the global face of the brand.

Jodie’s work on Shoes of Prey has been recognized many times over, including receiving the national Telstra Business Women’s Awards Winner (Australia), Hudson Private & Corporate Sector, 2014 Top 30 most influential women in Australian retail, 2014 Top 10 Australian female entrepreneurs and 2015’s top 8 entrepreneurs to watch.

Benjamin Joffe

benjaminjoffeBenjamin is a General Partner at HAX, the world’s No. 1 accelerator for hardware startups. With 15 years experience across China, Japan, Korea and US, he is a recognized expert on innovation ecosystems.
Benjamin is also an angel investor in 12 startups and a frequent speaker in tech events such as TEDx, SXSW, LeWeb, TechCrunch Disrupt, GMIC, as well as an occasional lecturer at Berkeley and Stanford. He speaks English, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean and Spanish with a French accent.

Katie Notopoulos

katie notopoulos headshotKatie Notopoulos is a senior editor at BuzzFeed News. Since joining the editorial team in 2012, she has covered internet culture and technology, and co-hosts the new BuzzFeed’s Internet Explorer podcast. Katie has also written for Gawker, The Verge, Modern Farmer, The Fader, Paper Magazine, and BusinessWeek. She is one of the organizers of IRL Club, a Brooklyn-based speaker series about the internet. She first saw the dress as white and gold, but then saw blue and black. Taylor Swift once favorited one of her tweets.

Charlie O’Donnell

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 11.46.37A veteran member of our Hackathon judging crew, Charlie O’Donnell is the sole Partner and Founder at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and loves it that way. The fund makes seed investments and the first venture firm located in Brooklyn–where he was born and raised. The longest he has been outside of the five boroughs of New York City is three weeks.

Charlie has a reputation for being early to identifying important companies. Nick Bilton identifies him as an influence on early Twitter investors in his book, Hatching Twitter. Dennis Crowley credits him as having helped kick off the first funding of Foursquare before other VCs had said yes. At First Round Capital, he sourced the firm’s investments in Singleplatform (sold to Constant Contact) and GroupMe (sold to Skype). Charlie discovered GroupMe at the hackathon where the service had been built. He also sourced investments in Backupify (which was an idea he had tweeted to the founder, a friend of his), chloe + isabel, Refinery29, Docracy, and Salescrunch.