This is my second hackathon and I did not expect it to be so professional. The mentors were really helpful, the Jury were frank, they did not hold back their words which is appreciated since we needed to hear it :). Apart from that, the working place was spacious and welcoming so we definitely did not feel awkward.
So this is how the hackathon went,
We arrived at the InQ building at around 7.45 in the morning. We were suppose to be there by 9.00 am but since we did not know where it was located, we preferred not taking any risk. When we reached there, we completed the usual registration process and were allocated a working space. By 11.00 am, the mentors and Jury members came and explained the problem statement which were as mentioned: Sustainable Growth Awareness, Emergency Response, E-healthcare, Women security solutions, Smart meters for electricity. The mentors especially Mr Abhijit Parkhi, were very professional with their topic and gave a clear and vivid explanation of things. At noon, we got started.
Before coming to the hackathon, we chose our problem statement as Emergency Response. So we quickly got working on that and quickly came up with an idea. So I quote, “Our idea was to create an application that scraps Twitter for tweets depending on a specific keyword that can be inputted. The output is in the form of a graph where the y-axis reflects the frequency of occurrence of that word and other associated word and the x-axis, the words itself. ” The positive points that we had for this idea was that :
1st : We know that nowadays people do tweet a lot about anything and everything. So our main view was that during a disaster such as a flood, people would be tweeting about it and we could use that to inform people who might be on the trajectory of it.
2nd: Usually this is the general scenario, the news or radio cast inform people about an imminent danger and then people start to prepare for it or evacuate. So we would increase speed of news transfer to the people and help save more lives.
3rd: It is not only limited to disasters. We could any kind of trending information on twitter and decide what action to take. If it is terrorist related tweets for example, “Bin Laden is planning an attack on India” (This is an example, do not take it seriously) , we could intercept that and take necessary actions.
So we created the application, tested it, prepared a slideshow and got ready for the first evaluation which is going to be conducted by the Jury.
Now this is where its gonna go down, …….for us !
We got into room , confident and started presenting our idea, giving the positive points and doing a demo of the app. Suddenly a member of the Jury, Mr Debasis Chakroborty, asked us a really simple question, I quote,”Who uses twitter ?”….Sounds like a strange question right, well its not.
See the point is that according to statistics, only about 30 million people across India uses twitter. That is about 2.2% of Indian population which is very low compared to other social media platform. That was enough of a point for the other Jury members to pitch in.
Overall we completely lost this round to them 🙁
At midnight, we started looking for a new idea as presenting or improving the same idea would definitely not cut it. We knew that the next evaluation was going to be at 9.00 am so we had approximately 9 hours to find, decide, explore, implement and prepare a presentation . This was nearly not enough time but we did not have a choice so we got to work 🙂
By 9.00 am, it was time for the second and last evaluation. We had everything prepared, the slideshow, the video, the demo etc… We anxiously waited for our turn and finally our names were called. We entered the room very stressful as we knew that it was our last chance to showcase ourselves to get a chance of getting selected for the final pitch.
We learned from our previous “disaster”, that we had to improve some points namely the project but also our presentation skill. So this time, we made a plan of what exactly should we say.
1st : We should state our problem statement first, exactly what problem we’re solving so that we can limit the extend of thinking of the Judges. If we do not put this restriction, they are free to talk about anything that can connect to the topic and they are gonna do so.
2nd : We should think about the disadvantages rather than the advantages of the idea. This will help guess what kind of question the Jury might ask beforehand which can give us a drastic advantage.
So this is our second idea,
“What if, during a flood, you do not have internet connection. you do not have network connection so you cannot send any SMS, you cannot call anyone, you cannot post anything on any social media platform…..what do you do in those cases ?………. Our idea is to create a mesh of IoT devices that can generate a hotspot. The mobile phones of the people could connect to the hotspot and fill a form. The latter would be sent back to the server which is own by the Government. They can then deploy their forces and save those people……the exact location of those people would be transferred back to the server along with other useful information. “
The second evaluation went pretty well. We could answer their questions correctly and pitch some good points in. Now it was up to luck !
At noon, the list of those who got selected for the final pitch was announced. So this is how it went, a team was announced, then they had to go pitch there idea to the Jury but in a more detailed manner. Moreover this was done not only in front of the Jury but the other participants too. So an actual panel of 70 to 80 people was listening to the pitch.
So the list of teams went on and finally our team was called !
We got really excited but stressed at the same time because we needed to do better than our previous presentation to win this competition. So we gathered our mental strength and internally prepared for it. We presented it as professionally as possible and answered all their questions very clearly.
Unfortunately, we did not win but it was a great learning experience so in a way we won 🙂 We got to interact with many people from different background and fields especially Mr Vijetha Shastry who genuinely help us regarding our first project. If he did not frankly tell us that our idea was bad, we would have continued the same way so thank you !
Also thanks a lot IncubateIND ,InQ and the volunteers for having helped us during those 30 long hours. We hope to see you all soon!