Days after launch, hackathon app Qup gets GigaOm story, 350 users

The winner of the inaugural Hack the Midwest event is already showing that 24 hours can deliver a product that not only works, but also one that's polished enough one to gain press and users. "The response has been phenomenal," said Michael Bleigh (left), who built Qup (pronounced "queue up"), an app that sends email

The winner of the inaugural Hack the Midwest event is already showing that 24 hours can deliver a product that not only works, but also one that’s polished enough one to gain press and users.

“The response has been phenomenal,” said Michael Bleigh (left), who built Qup (pronounced “queue up”), an app that sends email notifications for new videos on Netflix Instant. Bleigh, a fellow at Washington D.C.-based Intridea and a Kansas City resident, built the app by himself, going up against 24 other projects at an event that drew around 100 developers.

On Monday, with a thought that his winning idea might be interesting enough to merit coverage on its own, he sent emails to a few tech blogs.

“GigaOM got back to me,” Bleigh said in an email today, “and next thing I know I’m calling a friend and telling him my Heroku credentials because I was out when the news hit and I needed to scale up to handle the traffic. Three days in, I have more than 350 confirmed users, and that number is growing quickly.”

The sign-up process for Qup is three steps: connect to a Netflix account, provide an email address and choose your preferences (above).

Bleigh, who described himself as a “Ruby and Javascript developer with a dash of design skill thrown in,” said he’ll continue to work on the app.

“I see Qup’s potential as becoming the fastest, easiest way to manage your video streaming,” Bleigh said. “Email alerts are an important first step, but there’s more to be done. I want to create a ‘Wish Queue’ where you can add any movies or shows and Qup will automatically queue it and email you if and when it becomes available on Netflix. I also want to launch ‘Queue Anywhere’, which would let you add titles to your queue just by emailing, texting, or tweeting the name. When I’m out with my friends I’ll get movie recommendations all the time, but by the time I get home I’ve forgotten the name. If I could just text ‘queue The Killing’ instead, well, that’d be great!”

Bleigh said he’s always been drawn to hackathons and timed competition. He says the ability possessed by one person or a small group to do something real and useful in such a short time is “one of the most important and amazing things about being a web developer.”

For more thoughts from Bleigh on Hack the Midwest, check out his blog post, “Five Tips for Hackathon Participants.” To read the write-up about Qup on GigaOm, see “Qup brings Netflix to your inbox“.

Related: Netflix app nabs top prize after 24 busy hours at first Hack the Midwest


Credits: Photo of Michael Bleigh from twitter.com/mbleigh. Screenshots of Qup from qup.tv.

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