Let me just say that this was my first ever hackathon. I applied to some hackathons before but till then, I never got selected. Maybe it was due to a bad proposal or some unknown mistake but one thing that I know is that I always continued trying.
So this is how it starts,
My team (Yash Khare, Vaishanav Sivaprasad, Vishwaak Chandran ) and I applied for this hackathon after finding out about it online. We went through their website and took a look at the problem statements. After a careful selection, we chose the problem statement related to LeadWalnut 8×8 Inc. The issue was that 8×8, being the most affordable and the best, technology-wise, was attracting much less customers than RingCentral (The top supplier of cloud communication services in USA). So after finding some points to write about, we wrote the proposal and submitted it. All that was left to do now was to wait.
On 24th of June, we got the confirmation email !
I got really excited from this point onwards. I do not know about the others since they have already participated in hackathons before but I guess they were too. We immediately book the train tickets for the travel and departed on the 28th of June to Bangalore.
After another one hour in the Bangalore traffic, we reached the Microsoft Office.
We went inside, a bit dazzled, I mean we are in Microsoft Office right now. We went to sit as we were a bit early but soon enough some other participant and members of the Jury came as well as the mentors.
At noon, the Jury introduced themselves and gave some explanation regarding the problem statement. This session helped us gain an insight on how things were going to be and what they expected from us. Our problem statement was related to LeadWalnut and the Co-founder of LeadWalnut explained the project to its very core. At 2.00 pm, the hackathon officially started.
From 2.00 pm to 6.59 pm
We started with designing a revamped website for 8×8. Since we did not have much time to develop a website from scratch, we went for Bootstrap 4 and chose a template related to business. Once we got one, we started customizing it by changing some piece of code here and there. I started working on the email marketing campaign, the goal of which was to introduce the company and to showcase its products. (You can check the Portfolio section to view the emails). Vishwaak was working on the chat Bot that we had to integrate on the website.
At 7.00 pm – First Evaluation
So for the first evaluation, we had to present our ideas to the members making up the Jury. Whatever we did during those 5 – 6 hours, we had to showcase it to them, market it and that is exactly what we did. The guys explained to them the technical part, how we were gonna improve the website and the Chat Bot,and I took care of the marketing part. That is, my work was to sell the ideas to them, what we found to be wrong with the company and how we could improve it.
The first evaluation went well. We were mostly proud of ourselves and so we continued our work.
At 1.00 am – Second Evaluation
Now this is the crucial point !
This is the last checkpoint before we submit out slides to the Jury. So we had to be very careful about the points we proposed. We came up with several other marketing strategies such as SEO and SEM Optimization, Email Campaign, Contributing to other sites to boost visibility etc… However the Jury apparently found a mistake in one of our strategies. Well I would not call it a mistake. I would say that it is just his personal opinion.
So I quote,” What good would advertising 8×8 on Medium do…..how many people do you think you can attract by advertising on such a platform ?…….Kylie Jenner has millions and millions of people following her on Instagram…..if 8×8 posted a video online and Kylie Jenner did the same, who would get the most views ?
That was his point. At that moment, I did not know what to say, how to counter him. We lose this point to him 🙁
However after thinking about it for some time, I finally got the point. The reason why Kylie Jenner has so many followers is due to her business model. She is not limited by the type of people following her and vice versa. Even a 50 years old could follow her. 8×8 Inc, however, is a cloud communication company, so the market that they target is very specific compared to her and it is the same way around. Not everyone is gonna follow 8×8, only potential clients or people interested in their business.
If I was able to give such a response at that time, we might have won 🙁
At 10.00 am – Submission Time
We prepared a slide show where we showcased everything that we did during those 24 hours including mock-ups, website design, email campaign template, chat bot etc… and sent it for review.
We did not win but we got a tremendous amount of knowledge by interacting with the mentors and the Jury members. We even got to talk with a Microsoft Developer and found out that he was part of the sponsors of the event. We met people from Adobe, Avalon labs, Microsoft etc…
In any case it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to eat and sleep in the Microsoft Office, so we definitely could not miss that and even though we did not officially win, we did win in terms of knowledge gain, communication skills and experience.