My First Hackathon’s Experience

A blog on how I tried something new by taking part in my first hackathon.

That’s the first word which comes to my mind whenever I think about my first hackathon’s experience!

If you’re yet to take part in a hackathon or try out something new and need some motivation, this blog is just what you need.

Let me take you back to the story of how I participated in my first hackathon…

I study in Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore amongst 50,000 other students.

Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore- Home to over 50,000 students!

This was during the first few months of my first year there.

One night I received an e-mail for a “competition” and I casually registered for fun to know more since it was free. I had no intentions of participating.

A few weeks later, I received an e-mail saying the deadline to submit an idea for the hackathon was that day and I had to submit it before midnight. I opened the portal and they asked a lot of questions about a “project idea” for the hack.

I was clueless about what a hackathon was and what do we do in one.
I was clueless about what a hackathon was and what do we do in one.
My reaction, clueless about what a hackathon was!

It was almost dinner time when I read the email which left me with 3 hours after eating to fill it all out.

I had just thought of ditching the idea of participating when my friend, Goldy came to my room. Just as he entered my room, Goldy saw my laptop’s screen and hi-fied me saying he applied to the same event but wasn’t planning to go either but after finding out that both of us had registered, we felt a sudden thrill and thought of brainstorming and coming up with an idea after dinner and submitting it on time!

After dinner, we sat in Goldy’s room and tried thinking of an idea for about 2 hours!

We had one hour left for the deadline to submit an idea!
We had one hour left for the deadline to submit an idea!
One hour to deadline!

I came up with something. Goldy said no. He came up with something. I said no. Then we both started talking a recent news article we read about related to women security. One of the tracks in the hackathon was women safety. What could be a better combo? We decided upon the track this way!

Now the tough part- coming up with a unique idea!

We thought and thought and finally came up with an idea to make a smartsole which could be attached into any kind of footwear with special sensors which when activated would send a distress signal to our mobile application.

We thought this would give the user an option to wear the footwear of their choice by just inserting our smartsole into it. This would also turn out to be cheaper than producing a complete shoe.

You must be wondering why we targeted footwear.
People may forget or lose their phones, necklaces and purses but no sane person leaves their house without footwear.

We submitted this idea and waited.

Within a day we received an e-mail that we had been shortlisted!

We were overjoyed and excited reading this!

Shortlisted for my first hackathon, Devfest 2018.

We then realised we had a problem- Goldy knew only basic IoT and I knew only basic Web Dev. We needed someone who knew a bit more about IoT and basic App Dev.

Goldy asked one of his friend’s to join us and that friend asked another friend of his to join us and voila our team was complete!

We requested the hackathon organisers to let us add two more members to our team and seeing that we were freshers, they agreed to help us out!

Our complete team.

We were super motivated after being given this chance to participate in the final stage of the hackathon! We stayed up for nights and developed our product and made a final working prototype along with the guidance of our assigned mentor, Shaaran.

The day of the hack- we pitched and resolved last minute bugs but our project stopped working all of a sudden! We spent an hour trying to figure out what went wrong. We removed all connections and reconnected them and a dozen more things we could think of but nothing worked. We almost gave up when Goldy picked up the smartsole and hit it on the table.

Boom! Our project started working now!

The mobile application we developed.
Our smartsole, inserted and “concealed” into my crocs.

We managed to get selected for the finals!

Let me tell you, this was something very new for freshers with very little knowledge of anything and everything- be it something technical or about what would happen next and other procedural doubts about a hackathon. We were constantly Googling how to do stuff. There were only 2 freshers teams which made it to this round!

We were the only freshers team which made it to the top 5!

Time for results.

The team securing the 2nd runner up position is…..

They announced our name and we screamed! So loud people from all over the auditorium turned towards us! We were dumbstruck! All the hard work had finally paid off! A group of freshers beat over 60 teams consisting of experienced seniors! Unreal right?

We screamt at the top of our voices, dumbstruck and excited!
We screamt at the top of our voices, dumbstruck and excited!
We screamed at the top of our voices, dumbstruck and excited!

Our first hackathon ever was now our first hackathon win ever!

Me, holding the winning cheque.
Me, holding the winning cheque.
Me, holding the winning cheque.

Devfest was and will always be my favourite hackathon memory despite all the other hackathons our team has won till date!

I hope this blog motivated you to step out of your comfort zone and try out something new. Maybe a hack?

Who knows you may experience something amazing like I did!

Web Developer with keen interest in SEO & Digital Marketing.