November 10, 2015

Nurturing young talent through Skyscanner's API

 Hitesh and Prisha Parashar use Skyscanner Hotels API to create app for TechCrunch Disrupt 2015 Hack

A 10-year old father and daughter team used our Hotels API to create pioneering wearable app were chosen as our TechCrunch Disrupt 2015 Hack winner. 

On 19th-20th September 2015, Skyscanner for Business participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in San Francisco, making available our Flights, Hotels and Car Hire APIs to bright and ambitious developers looking to build new and innovative product ideas.

The Tech Crunch Disrupt Hackathon series is one of the most prestigious in the industry and in showcasing our Travel API at the event, we joined a host of other leading tech companies in providing hackers with access to data.

Competition was fierce, with 118 teams registering to make use of our APIs. Our panel were impressed by the presentations from those who had taken advantage of our data, but the standout winner was clear.

We are delighted to congratulate father and daughter team from Getaways – Hitesh and Prisha Parashar – who created an innovative wearable travel planning app, using our Hotels API to generate ‘trip experiences from your wrist’.

What makes our winning team even more special is Prisha’s age; at just ten years-old, she is a shining example of how, with ambition and drive, it’s possible to create game-changing product ideas and code to a high level despite not having years of experience or advanced training.

Prisha’s confident and inspiring product presentation was certainly enough to win the panel over, showcasing the intricacies of how the father and daughter duo had integrated our API, and aggregated it alongside user generated content from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In doing so, the app provides users with a full trip planning experience, including both pricing and destination content, which will eventually be available in wearable format. You can watch Prisha’s impressive presentation here.

We chatted to our winners to find out some more about the inspiration behind their product idea, how they got into coding and what their future plans are for the app:

Congratulations on being selected as our winners for Tech Crunch Disrupt Hackathon for 2015. Can you tell us some more about what Getaways app does and where your inspiration came from?

Our family vacations are nerdy and very different, since we talk a lot about the travel applications that we use, their design, interfaces, technologies and business models. When I recently got the Apple Watch and went on a vacation together to San Diego, Prisha got excited and said someone will build the best travel app for your watch. Why not us?

Getaways aims to be the most beautiful single source of real traveller media captured from across the web, delivered to the device that is closest to you when you travel. Getaways sits on top of the data that already exists with Skyscanner Hotels API and as an aggregator for user generated content buried inside applications like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

What influenced you to participate in the Disrupt Hackathon?

Disrupt Hackathon is a great place to meet other hackers and get exposed to new and emerging platforms. We decided to go to this together when I learnt about the #builtbygirls team coming from New York to participate in this hackathon. I imagined it would be a great experience for Prisha to be with these inspiring girls who are building great stuff.

Have you participated in many hackathons prior? If so, have you entered as a Father-Daughter team before?

Yes, two years ago we participated together in a hackathon for Alameda County. This experience with Disrupt was totally different since she has matured a lot between the ages of 8 and 10. What a difference two years make, as she participated very enthusiastically this time around and made a huge difference to where we are right now.

Why did you choose to use the Skyscanner API and what did you like most about it?

Skyscanner’s Hotels API gives us exactly what we were looking for in terms of the hotels static data and the ability to see real-time deals from multiple OTAs at the same place. It is one of the simplest and most powerful platforms for travel experiences to integrate into.

Prisha, how did you get started in developing and coding? And what do you like most about it?

It all started with MIT Scratch, attending coder dojo sessions and then I attended an all-girls summer coding school with Alexa Cafe a couple of months ago, where I finally got that confidence to design, code and ship. Coding is like solving puzzles and playing games, but these games end up with really useful apps and tools for others.

Hitesh, what advice did you give Prisha while you both were developing the idea for Getaways?

I just encouraged her to apply her own real intuitive thinking and come up with a simple and beautiful travel experience that she and her friends will enjoy too. I asked her to focus initially on what we can ship quickly and then iterate. e.g. WatchOS application will come after we have a solid iOS app in place. She had some really good observations and insights that drove the initial prototypes and design. A 10 year old thinks very differently than an adult's conditioned brain. The purity of thinking from a 10 year old helps streamline the user experience in a totally different way.

Prisha, what advice do you have for others your age that may want to enter a hackathon, or want to try their hand at developing a start-up idea?

Don't give up. Coding seems hard in the beginning but it becomes fun and entertaining as you get a hang of it. Work on building something useful and beautiful and people will love you and your app.

What’s next for the Father-Daughter duo and for Getaways?

We want to release Getaways to the app store and build a real business around it. As the new platforms emerge we want to be there ready to build the best travel experiences possible. Prisha has ample time to experiment and iterate before she retires!

Getaways is certainly an exciting one to look out for in the future, and highlights exactly why Skyscanner for Business continues to support motivated and creative start-ups, as we continue in our journey of powering the travel internet.

Visit our Travel APIs to find out how we can support your business goals.