Category Archives: development

I won the Zappos developer contest

Recently I had the good fortune of winning $1000 and being featured in the local news. Here’s how it happened.

In the middle of March I was doing some research for a blog post and I came across a contest that Zappos was running. I had recently decided that I was spending too much time building web apps for $0/hour, so I almost didn’t enter, but I had an idea that I thought I could pull off without investing too much time. My intent was to build something that was fairly simple but very polished.

I spent a couple weeks (about 40 hours total) throwing together an app in my spare time. I thought my app was good, but I’ve entered contests like this before where the entrants pour lots of time into it and produce something really stellar. So it was much to my surprise that I ended up winning the top prize in the contest (a cool $500 cash plus a $500 gift certificate to Zappos). That alone was enough to make building the app worth my while, but what happened next was even better.

Shortly after I won I posted a quick tweet about it. I have some folks from the Silicon Prairie News as followers and my tweet led to me getting an interview request. I wrote up some answers (reviewed by my wife, thanks!) and they posted an article about it the following day. That article was then mentioned in the weekly PrairieCast postcast (starting at 21:00). I was also contacted by several people who read the article about projects that they wanted my help on.

When I decided to enter the contest in never crossed my mind that it would lead to me being featured on SPN and being offered work. That goes to show though, it is definitely possible to attract luck. You don’t know how that luck will manifest itself, but it will. Do cool stuff, be social, and luck will find you.

Regarding “Attracting Luck”: it sounds like a value-free bromide, but it really does work. I’m not a social butterfly by nature, but I force myself to go out and network. It blows my mind how effective that is, because there exists someone with the ability to give you what you want just by saying “Yeah, sure” and that is 1000000000x more likely to happen after you have asked him for it in person versus happening spontaneously. (Ditto hearing, e.g., “You do SEO consulting? What a coincidence, we need that. Send us a proposal.”, “You made what? That’s interesting. I have someone you should get a coffee with.”, etc)
-Patrick McKenzie