Did “Square Order” use my Launch Hackathon idea?

Today, one of my friends shared with me a link. He mentioned that this product, Square’s Order, is very similar to the idea I once shared with him during February 2014. The idea was about a coffee ordering app that utilizes a very simple interface and design to eliminate the hassle of ordering coffee. In addition, it was designed to be very generic so the user could order (nearly) the same coffee regardless of the coffee shop.

This idea was brought to life on Feb 23, 2014 at the Launch Hackathon held in San Francisco. My colleague Asitha de Silva and I spent time building this phone app and placed all our effort to create a simple, yet effective, way of ordering coffee. We also enabled the application to order a coffee on your behalf through the phone using Twilio. You can see the basic idea of our app in the following link:


Here are screenshots of the application Asitha and I developed:

GetCoffee Interface-1

GetCoffee Interface-1

GetCoffee Interface-2

GetCoffee Interface-2

GetCoffee Interface-3

GetCoffee Interface-3

When the judging time came – our idea was evaluated by Dani Behrendt (Honda Innovation & Strategic Alliances) and Jessica Lessin (Editor-in-Chief of The Information)  – we received a mediocre result (6/10). Our judges stated that while our app has a great UI, it wouldn’t be able to penetrate the market.

“Think about reaching out to an independent shop for an early trial just with them. Very cool.”

“Very well designed app and I like how it is platform independent. I worry it is low barrier to entry.”

For Asitha and I, hackathons are a learning experience, and our days moved on.

But things have changed.

After seeing Square’s Order (which was launched in May 2014), I felt a bit uneasy. Are hackathons used as a medium to simply exploit from the ideas and endeavors of its participants? The application looked similar to our platform, including the distribution of the coffee content, the simple design. While it is not a direct reflection (given we only had time to code our app in 24 hours), if we were given the resources and time, we would’ve built something like this:

Square Order Interface

What do you think?

Do you think Square’s App and our app is similar? Do you think hackathons are providing the environment for individuals to create freely?

2 thoughts on “Did “Square Order” use my Launch Hackathon idea?

  1. Carmel Olyai says:

    Carmel (Yazdani) here,
    Adib, i think both are very VERY similar and if i were you, i’d talk to very good law firm – lawyer.
    This is a total rip off.
    Hackathon and Square are both to be fought against.
    Good luck with everything.

  2. Sorry to hear this, Adib. Do not let this discourage you from participating in future hackathons. No matter where you turn, you’re going to face competition and or some form of manipulation. Instead, let this positively affirm your abilities as a developer and your abilities to predict trends before they happen –that you can indeed, surf the right wave when it comes your way. I am in no way condoning Square’s Order if they did indeed see your project before implementing theirs. Honest question tho, where you going to do anything with this app after its initial production?
    Always give the benefit of the doubt that Multiple Discovery could be at play, especially at the current rate of mobile-app production.
    I always have the feeling that if I start to work on an idea that I think is really BIG, the universe will give momentum towards this.idea (through many outlets and from anywhere around the world) and I will find it somewhere on kickstarter or someplace like it before I even finish. This may not be very productive thinking but I feel when the timing is right, I will break for it.
    shameless self promotion below
    I’m currently taking it upon myself to learn: HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. I’m interested in joining the UI/UX field now. I’m forcing myself to watch long videos online. I can some-what put together stuff in Fireworks very quickly for prototyping. So, if you need any help in the aesthetic front, I’m here to help.

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