Gone are the days when the image of an IT engineer was the Dilton Doiley of Archies, super smart, geeky, developer who could build just about anything on a computer. Now the industry is bursting at the seams with managers moving files instead of writing cutting edge codes. Freshdesk, one of India’s hottest startups, is out to remedy that with its first ever hackathon called Save the Hacker. This will give people a taste of what it is like to actually ship code and build ideas from scratch, said Girish Mathrubootham, CEO, Freshdesk, throwing open the event for talented developers among college students and engineers with less than three years of experience.
And why is the old fashioned, smart coding important to the industry? “Because, at a time when ‘software is eating the world’ our smart engineers should not be wasting time on maintaining mainframe code or fixing insignificant bugs on legacy code,” Girish says. He believes that the culture of coding has changed. There are a lot more plug and play components, and so people don’t have to get theirs hands dirty to get into the nitty gritty like earlier. “That means people can start solving bigger problems by utilizing these plug and play components. And our smart engineers today are rewriting many of these plug and play components,” he says.
Save the Hacker will be held at the Freshdesk headquarters in Chennai. An invite-only two-day event scheduled for March 1-2, 2014, registrations are free and open till February 24. Developers can register individually, or compete in a team of (up to) 4 people. Best ideas will be hand-picked from the applications.
Developers have to build either a web or mobile app in any language – Java, Ruby or Python. You have to start coding at the hackathon – “we’ll review your code to make sure you actually built the app in two days,” the organisers warn. They will give you internet, mentors, food, drinks, and space, all you have to bring is your laptop or any mobile devices for the hackathon.
These days, there are quite a few hackathons that happen in India. Last November, for instance, there were four hackathons in just a week in Bangalore, including TechCrunch’s all night long hackathon. So how different would ‘Save The Hacker’ be from them? “For one, it’s in Chennai, not Bangalore. Two, in most hackathons in Bangalore, you end up seeing almost the same people again and again because the startup community is like a small family. ‘Save The Hacker’ is specifically meant for good programmers working in IT Services companies. So, in a sense, we want to grow the hacker community by bringing in new people.” Girish says.
After the end of the hackathon, you will have to give a 5-minute demo of the app to a panel of judges, who will then evaluate it based on its originality, completeness, and technical challenges involved. Winners bag cash prizes worth INR 100,000. And what will happen to the best apps that come out of the event? “It is for the hackers to decide. We don’t own the apps. They can opensource it – like good hackers do. In some cases, we hope it will motivate some people to take their ideas further and possibly startup. We will feel extremely proud that the startup was born at ‘Save the Hacker’ and that alone would have made this initiative worthwhile,” says Girish.
Freshdesk, backed by Accel Partners and Tiger Global, is a leading provider of customer support software in the SaaS market. Girish was recently in the news when he challenged a Forbes report claiming that Microsoft had put Freshdesk, Zendesk and Autotask out of business by acquiring Parature.
So, app developers, are you ready to code? You have 10 days left to register for Save the Hacker. Challenge yourself.