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Ola Appathon Review

You might be forgiven for thinking that with the increase in the number of hackathons we are organizing, participation in these hackathons itself becomes a Sisyphean task. But there was no hint of that in the demeanor of attendees for our Ola Appathon which took place on the weekend of February 7th and 8th. In fact, due to the large number of registrations (we had 1200+!) attendance was capped at 200. Participants were required to pre-register online and profiles were screened as it was an invitation only event. (For those of you whose profiles did not match Ola’s requirements, don’t worry, we have a lot of events coming up where you can flaunt your skills!)

The arena opened for gladiatorial combat promptly at 10:00 a.m. but the warriors, as it were, metaphorically breached the castle walls much earlier.What was unique to this “Appathon” was that candidates were required to form teams either preformed, or at the venue, with team sizes limited to a minimum of three and a maximum of five. After the dust settled, and everyone “teamed up”, we had a total of 55 teams. Although candidates were competing for lucrative cash prizes (a total of INR 5 lakhs was up for grabs) and hiring opportunities, the mood was pretty jovial.

At 11:00 a.m., participants were introduced to Ola and the problem statement, which was kept deliberately open ended so as to test their creativity. After extensive discussion of how best to approach the problem, teams got to work!

In order to keep up the spirits of the hackers, we gave away a bunch of goodies as prizes for such impromptu competitions as “best selfie”, or “best tweets”. Myna Bisineer, our COO turned MC, did a fantastic job in getting the coders to lighten up.

Although snacks and coke were available all throughout the day, lunch was eagerly anticipated, and attendees could be seen all around the venue stuffing themselves with the pizza provided.

Post lunch, the attendees delved deep into the task at hand. Subhendu Panigrahi, our designated DJ kept them pumped up with his judicious choice of music, and participants were encouraged to tweet in their song requests.

Tea time came and went, and the taurine filled hackers stocked up on sugar and caffeine for the marathon ahead.

Dinner time was a social affair with the coders letting loose by showing off their dance skills. Ola’s hospitality was on full display as attendees were provided with subs, coke and Redbull.

Around midnight, there was a surprise in store as one of the student coders, Niveditha, celebrated her 21st birthday at the venue. We are sure that this is a birthday that she will never forget!

As the night progressed, the participants, who presumably were all night owls, were busy coding away. Candidates were provided with sleeping bags and coders made full use of them, although in ways that you wouldn’t expect!

As dawn broke over the city of Bangalore, the coders were frantically seen fixing up last minute bugs. The deadline, at 11:00 a.m., was fast approaching!

Finally, the deadline for submission passed, and the coders were reluctantly prised away from their desks. Judges went around the arena talking to the participants and overseeing their demos.

The top 8 teams, chosen by the judges, were required to present their ideas to the crowd, in order to compete for the user choice award, which was chosen by voice vote.


After the presentations, and the user choice award, the judges went into their chambers to decide who the winners would be. The dust finally settled, and the winning team, audaciously calling themselves Newolaemployees, were presented with a check for Rs. 1.5 lakhs, as well as Rs. 5000 each in Ola coupons. They also received job offers and will be joining Ola shortly.

Here is a complete list of winning teams and their ideas:

  • First Place: New Ola Employees. This four member team came up with a way to strengthen the security of passengers in Ola cabs without any need of human or user intervention for creating panic alerts. They also focused on making the whole experience user friendly and social. For their efforts, they walked away with job offers, a check for Rs. 1.5 lakhs, and Rs. 5000 each in Ola coupons.
  • Second Place: Dream Sparks. This team “created a platform for going on trips [sic] …with an amazing augmented reality experience.” They won Rs. 1 lakh as well as Rs. 5000 each in coupons. To enjoy the experience they created, take a look.
  • Third Place: Team Spartans established a link between social NGOs and restaurants for food delivery using OlaCabs. Their efforts paid dividends as they “rode” away with a check for Rs. 50,000 as well Rs. 5000 each in Ola coupons. Their project can be found here.
  • Fourth Place: Team Ola trips found “an affordable way to plan rides for parties/team gatherings.” They won Rs. 25,000 as well Rs. 5000 each in Ola rides. Take a peek.
  • Fifth Place: The “Park Men”, walked away with a prize of Rs. 15,000 and the obligatory Rs. 5000 each in Ola coupons for their project which was to “enable easy parking.”
  • Honorable mentions: Team Mashon, Team Android and Team Hodor.

There is a saying that is apropos here “All good things come to an end” and with this poignant apophthegm in mind, we will sign off from the hackathon with a heavy heart, but not without leaving you with a few snapshots.

To satisfy your hackathon addiction, take part in our challenges such as the Tookitaki Data challenge and the Commonfloor Design-a-thon. Keep an eye out for more challenges/hackathons on the way!


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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.