HackTO: Helping the Hackers

Popular media likes to portray hackers as sort of scary, the sort of folks who steal credit card numbers and eat too much pizza. But at FreshBooks, we’re really fond of hackers. We think they’re changing the world.

FreshBooks hosted HackTO last Saturday, and nearly a hundred eager programming ninjas descended on our shiny new offices for a day of building stuff based on public APIs like ours. By the end of the day it was clear that hackers certainly get stuff done: 23 brand-new applications got built and demoed! It was an amazing, inspirational day of total strangers trying to build cool things together, which we’re happy to support. We believe that it’s the little things — not huge world-spanning projects but the tiny little things done by dedicated groups — that will really transform the world we live in. People don’t need to be TOLD what to do; they just need some support in order to figure it out themselves.

image credit: Nox Dineen

The hackers have from 9am until 5pm to build an entirely new application that uses at least one of the sponsors’ APIs. The FreshBooks API is a key feature that most of our users never even see. The API is what other applications use to talk to FreshBooks. It makes it possible for you to import clients from Highrise or any of our dozens of integrations. It’s also the bit of FreshBooks that the hackers can grab hold of and swing around.

A HackDay is a pretty straightforward event to support. Of course we have to supply high quality wireless connections for everyone, but aside from that you could pretty much run one in your living room — we supply some breakfast and lunch, buy everyone a beer, and otherwise just provide them with space. At 5:30 everyone gets up in front of the room and demoes their app for the others to observe. Judges deliberate, and prizes are awarded! The sponsoring companies supply the APIs. People’s brains supply all the awesome.

image credit Nox_Dineen

Of the 23 innovations demoed on Saturday we saw apps that let DJs create location-based playlists, get robots to read your blog posts and send invoices via fax via email! Fax via email! It’s so 1997 yet also very 2017. Nearly half the demoing teams won prizes of some sort.

Hosting events like HackTO give us a chance to support our local development community, and help excited people change the world. You can host them, too! Please contact me if you’d like to discuss how to set up a HackDay in your neighborhood.

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.