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Triple H: Hike, Hack and get Hired

SoLoMo. (Yes, it does sound very much like the first three notes of some grand song, doesn’t it?) This was the theme of the “Hikeathon” we conducted for our clients, Hike. Hike was looking for product managers, engineers and developers to strengthen their team, and increase their presence in the SoLoMo landscape. As such, the problem statement was kept deliberately open-ended allowing candidates to demonstrate their creativity.

Participants were required to build apps that fulfill the needs of Indian customers, with links to messaging (because, well, you know, Hike…). Hike set up a small XMPP server so that the hackathonees could run their messaging layer on top of it. However, this service was not compulsory and many opted out choosing instead to focus on other alternatives.

The problem statement was released on Thursday evening so that participants could have ample time to prepare their ideas. (After all, the ideation phase is probably the most important!)

On Saturday, at 11 a.m. the Hikeathon began in earnest. 98 attendees, split into 30  teams took part.

We saw a lot of familiar faces from our hackthons past, and so the atmosphere was quite warm and friendly. However, there were quite a few new attendees who quickly got into the groove of things due to the presence of old hands. Saranya Chowdary, our Talent Acquisition Specialist, in particular, made the newcomers feel welcome.

Subhendu took a break from his usual DJ duties, but Kushagara, one of our interns, was able to take over quite admirably. Hike’s hospitality was first class, and they provided healthy alternatives to just pizza and Redbull. (You see folks, people can survive on more than just pizza and Redbull in these hackfests! But for those veterans of hackathons used to pizzas and Redbull, Hike did not disappoint.)

Come evening time, the Hike team, in coordination with Myna, our COO, had a little surprise in store for the candidates. Around 8:00 p.m., the attendees gathered around a large screen expecting an “important announcement” about the hackathon. Instead, under the guise of “getting to know Hike before you join them!”, the attendees were sent off on a treasure hunt that took them all around the Hike venue. (The competition was intense with many playing dirty by attempting to steal clues!). After the treasure hunt, the developers showed off their dance skills. Hilarity ensued when Kushagara attempted to recreate “the lungi dance” although fortunately for us, he wasn’t wearing a lungi!

Refreshed, and maybe somewhat traumatized by the sight of the lungi dance, the coders went back to work. It was amazing to see their enthusiasm even though it was fast approaching midnight.

Hike arranged bean bags and sleeping bags for the hackers who stayed back to continue the hack. Eventually the late nighters were joined by the early birds who streamed in purposefully in order to fix up last minute bugs.

The deadline, at 11:00 a.m., was fast approaching and hung over their heads much like the Sword of Damocles of legend. Promptly, at 11:00 a.m., work on the apps ceased with presentations commencing shortly thereafter. A total of 23 teams presented wowing the judges with their ideas. Although the judging team planned to present prizes to the top 3 teams, they decided to give prizes to the top 5 teams due to the quality of work on display.

Here is a list of the winning teams, their ideas, and some of the technologies they used:

5th place: Team Janmat. This all student team built a “social app” that had three interesting features: group chats, trendng analysis, and message translation facilities. The technologies they used were Android, PHP as the backend, and Python scripts based on the Alchemy API used for sentiment analysis. For their efforts, they walked away with Rs. 5, 000 each in gift vouchers from Flipkart.

4th place: Team Builder. Due to unavoidable circumstances, other members of this team had to leave, leaving a lone crusader. The judges, impressed with his determination to complete the project, awarded him with an iPAD for his efforts. This android application facilitates “cross language communication.” Messages sent to the chat recipients are translated instantly to the preferred language.

3rd place: Team LoSoBo. This Android application enables the user to make specific requests from his or her current location (or registered location) to applicable users within a 10 sq. km area. For their efforts, the team walked away a prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

2nd place: SoLoMo shop. This is a location based buying and selling marketplace. The technologies they used were Android, with Parse as the backend. This four member team walked away with a total of Rs. 1 lakh rupees.

1st place: IIN-K. This four member team walked away with top honors. Their Android application enables video sharing among friends and family to preserve “wonderful moments of our lives with loved ones in real-time.”

Each member of the winning teams was shortlisted for further interviews with Hike. In addition to these, at the time of this writing, Hike has shortlisted 10 more candidates. We wish the potential “Hikers” all the best with the rest of the interview process (Yes, I know you were waiting for the usage of the term “Hikers”, and I didn’t disappoint!). To the rest, well, to employ a cliched but apropos phrase, all of you are winners since hackathon attendance was limited to only around 100 candidates of a total of 1000 registrations. No one walks away a loser in a hackathon!

We hope you enjoyed participating in and/or reading about the Hikeathon. For those who want more, or were unable to participate, keep an eye out for our next hack, the “Happy Hack” for Gainsight. Since participation is limited to 100 participants, we encourage you to register as soon as possible. We hope to see you there!

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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.