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Hackathon Diaries: Stayzilla

It’s hackathon time at Venturesity! This past weekend (Jan 31st and Feb 1st, 2015) we organized a hackathon for Stayzilla, an online booking and reservation portal. What was unique was that we had two venues for the event: one in Chennai and the other in Bangalore. But, with the judicious use of technology, we were able to pull this off without a hitch!

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As usual, the event got underway at 10:00 a.m. with perfect synchronization between the two venues. However, the coders were literally banging at the door much earlier. The attendance far, far exceeded our expectations; we had around 160 participants spread over the two cities. Yogi Vasupal, one of the co-founders of Stayzilla, was flabbergasted to see “the mob of people” streaming in. To get an idea of what it was like, take a look at the pic below:

 

In Bangalore, we soon realized that the locale, as it were, could not adequately seat the “horde”, and so, we quickly set up a new setting for the overflow crowd. Now, we had to coordinate among three different locations: two in Bangalore and one in Chennai!

 

With initial internet issues straightened out, the participants were introduced to Stayzilla and the problem statement. The problem statement was divided into three sections and the candidates had a choice of which problem to tackle. Here is a brief summary of the statements:

  • Problem A:  Mine chat logs of Stayzilla for keywords related to travel and accommodation and associate them to bring out interesting analytics around the context cities.
  • Problem B: Locality records are provided with lat, long and locale name, and you are to verify whether the locality name was correctly associated with the lat and long, as well as come up with a quality metric using Google Maps API.
  • Problem C: Use Stayzilla’s API to build a listing page and/or ap to view and book stays.

The candidates were encouraged to work in teams, and after a quick discussion of which problem to tackle, they were off the starting gates.

Lunch was served roughly around 2 p.m. with all three venues in sync. This hackathon was turning into a food fest!

The dedication of the participants had to be seen to be believed; in fact, as the night progressed, attendees were still coding. In the wee hours, there were 64 attendees still standing!

In order to keep up their motivation, games such as fussball were on offer.  The hackathon was a cauldron in which “caffeine, fussball and pizza” were mixed and turned “into code.”

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Eventually, as dawn broke over the two cities, the night owls in all the three areas had company; the other contestants started trickling in. The participants were provided with listerine to freshen up, and breakfast was promptly served. This was much appreciated by the contestants as they still had a long day ahead of them since the presentations were looming over their heads much like the sword of Damocles of legend.

With Skype set up between the two locales (the venues in Bangalore being consolidated into one), the demos began with presentations alternating between Chennai and Bangalore. The judges had a hard time since the quality was top notch but eventually, the dust settled and winners emerged from the crowd.

Here is a complete list of the winners and their products:

  •  Best team: Team Bakar. Nitesh Agarwal, Srinivasan, Minkesh Jain, Asif Junaid, Archita Bansal, Venkatesh Yadav and Shekhar Dahore, all members of Team Bakar developed an app that assists tourists and travelers to choose places to stay according to ratings that are based on amenities provided, and user reviews.
  •  Best student team (Bangalore location):  Technovators. Arun Sethupat, Ishan Khandelwal, Viswanatha Pothukuchi, Yeshwanth Reddy and Sushant Pachipulusu tackled problem B and built an algorithm that depended on the ideologies of different people based on reviews.
  • Best student team (Chennai location): Team Olive. This two person team, P Sai Tejesh and Abhijeet Mohan managed to complete three projects in the limited time allotted! Geozilla is an engine to rank places and getting interesting insights, Stayzillabird, an automated social media bot enhancing social activity and Searchzilla, a Google chrome extension, enabling a lightening fast search of Stayzilla listings.
  •  Best individual contributor. Hemanth Malla built a product, MyStays which suggested hotels and locations based on users’ preferences.

Contemplating the events of the past weekend, we are left with a sense of nostalgia as the hackathon was a blast for all.  This was evidenced by the great feedback we got. Abhijeet Mohan, from Team Olive, tweeted the following:

If you were unable to attend, or are now addicted,  we have a major event coming up: the Ola Appathon where you get to compete for lucrative prizes and hiring opportunities. We hope to see you there!

 

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15 things we unlearned at Venturesity in 2015

[…] in fact, hackathons are a fantastic way to hire great talent. We have many, many examples of these. Stayzilla, PayUMoney, Micromax etc. Coding, hacking and hiring. Who’da thunk it? Nobody. Except for the Mad […]


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Bharat Ramakrishna

Blogger. Part-time mathematics enthusiast. Loves esoteric and quirky things. Bibliophile. Has a wide range of interests including playing chess and pool, juggling and creating puzzles of fiendish difficulty. Grammar Nazi.