NYC BigApps Hackathon Gives Young Whizzes a Jumpstart at Entrepreneurship

Eric Rafaloff, creator of the Can I Park Here app, may have been destined to join New York’s startup community. After he got his first computer when he was eight years old, he wanted to learn how software worked at deeper levels. Now a young man of 19, Rafaloff took first place at last weekend’s NYC BigApps Hackathon, after working alone to create an app that tells users if they are legally parked on New York’s sometimes confusing streets. Rafaloff is now shooting to win the NYC BigApps 3.0 competition currently underway—and the $10,000 prize.

Can I Park Here combines data from the New York City Department of Transportation with Rafaloff’s software to alert users of the current parking rules in their vicinity. “It lets people avoid parking tickets,” he says. “It solves a point of pain for a lot of people.”

Rafaloff and 74 other hackers were given one day at the hackathon, held at software development consulting firm Pivotal Labs, to create original apps that use data provided by the city administration. Ten apps were submitted for judging by the end of the weekend. Rafaloff took home the grand prize: a $1,000 Amazon gift card.

The hackathon is a stepping stone to the annual NYC BigApps competition hosted by ChallengePost in conjunction with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office. The objective in the overall contest is also to create an app that enhances life in New York by using data supplied by the city’s administration. Competitors can also use APIs from participating local technology companies such as bitly, GetGlue, Foursquare, and … Next Page »

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