Creating opportunity
An open (and honest) letter from our hackathon winner
Vanilla Frame | April 19, 2016

It’s been six months since we built the first GETMaps iteration at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural hackathon, but our team is just as excited about working on this project today as we were during that event. From the start of the competition, the missionbetter showcasing the impact of American businesseshas resonated strongly with us. Through our research, we have uncovered a ton of facts and figures regarding companies across the country, yet none have truly framed the picture of U.S. businesses in the manner that GETMaps does.

This gap in the data marketplace has been a huge motivator for us, and we already see a number of ways to expand the usefulness of GETMaps as we approach completion of the initial version. With that said, the process of creating anything from scratch is always a unique and grueling adventure. In our case, the challenge of combining a variety of data sources into a transparent and understandable algorithm has been interesting to say the least.

A look back at the 2015 hackathon

Though the final presentation of GETMaps will be easily comprehensible, we’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t that was from the beginning. There have been quite a few times when the internal data has been daunting to say the least. Additionally, the goal of making an interactive “map-plication” that can be easily used and understood by a wide variety of audiences has definitely pushed us to rethink how we approach the visual aspect of GETMaps. It’s led to dozens of visual iterations and revision sessions as we pursue a tool that could be viewed by thousands of users, if not more.

We’ve found the experience of working with the FreeEnterprise.com team both enjoyable and insightful. The team has been a strong advocate for GETMaps since the very beginning, helping to guide the project’s course and shape the future of what we all hope GETMaps will become. Moving forward, our hope is to explore the possibility of building other interactive tools that can help the U.S. Chamber of Commerce better pursue their mission as champions of American companies.