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App Showdown

What Makes a Winning App?

Nov 17th 2017
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As the need grows for the right applications to perform necessary business and accounting tasks, so too does the confusion over exactly what the best app is for the work. This is where developers and accounting professionals are needed most.

Intuit, and other companies like them, have realized the need for an ecosystem of applications that integrate well with their core products and they rely more than ever on third-party developers to make it happen. This is partly why Intuit has their App Showdown and Hackathon events, as innovation doesn’t always need to come from one source.

App Showdown 2017

As part of the QuickBooks Connect event this week, there are a few goals around the App Showdown. For one, it is a way for attending accountants to learn about new or lesser-known apps that have been developed. On the day of the Showdown, 10 of the finalists get to make a short pitch in front of an audience of accountants to describe what it does, what it solves for, etc.  These same finalists also get booths at QB Connect so people can learn more about them. The winner of the Showdown receives a $100,000 cash prize to do with as they wish.

This year’s winner was ShopVox, a cloud-based shop management app that offers quote management, customer management, sales management, job costing, estimating software, production management, invoicing, point of sale (POS), and more for print shop management, sign shop management, promotions business management and awards and engraving shop management. It also integrates with QBO.


As for the Hackathon, it is a 2-day event that takes place just before QB Connect kicks off. During that time, 450 registered developers descend on the Intuit campus and utilize the Developer Platform to code and go off and build an app that Intuit has asked them to focus in on to serve a small business. At the end, they can pitch and get judged. There are three place prizes for the best ideas – the top prize being $5,000 -- which will ultimately be further developed later to be a workable, integrated solution for QBO.

At this year’s Hackathon, the top prize was awarded to the team responsible for creating an app called “Material Assist,” which was designed to serve as an inventory management system, creating an extension of sales people for small businesses who struggle to store and move their inventory. Material Assist also allows small businesses to connect with each other, while sharing resources and inventory transparently.

More Accountant Involvement

Both the Hackathon and App Showdown help highlight the impact of the developer community on future apps, as well as Intuit’s own Developer Platform, according to Alex Barnett, Intuit’s director of product management – Developer Platform.

“We have the Developer Platform that enables third-party developers to integrate their apps with Intuit’s, either customers are asking for it or their own teams want to,” said Barnett. “We look at third-party apps as a way to fill gaps that are in QBO, it is critical for us to enable them to do the right integrations and do the integrations as seamlessly as possible. Once they’ve been completed, we make them discoverable to accounting professional clients.”

Barnett also noted that he would like to see a shift in the role accountants play in their developer system, particularly as they and their clients feel the mounting confusion over which may be best to work on.

Intuit’s own recent survey work found 41 percent of small businesses feel there are too many apps to choose from and are not sure of the right ones. What’s more is that two-thirds of small businesses say they are willing to pay for training to learn about what the right apps are. Barnett noted that with the evolving role of accountants as advisors, they see they opprortunity to enable them to solve that problem for their clients.