Tech talent was always precious. But now with the mushrooming of startups, the value of engineering talent has risen exponentially. While earlier big corporations indulged in poaching surreptitiously, today, startups flushed with new funds are blatantly pulling out good talent from smaller startups.
To stay ahead in the emerging mobile-first economy, startups realise the value of the right technical talent for their survival. As things stand, the demand far outstrips the supply.
The IT industry is India’s largest private employer with over 15,000 firms employing close to three million software engineers. Over eight lakh students graduate every year, but a large number of them end up in jobs where they have to do offshore IT services. Despite the high demand for good talent in the country, developers often take up roles that don’t match their skillset and end up getting ‘benched’ when they have no active projects to work on.
In a bid to ‘rescue’ engineering talent from the air-conditioned corridors of glass and steel IT firms and resolve the hiring woes of startups, Freshdesk, one of India’s leading startups, has announced its second edition of ‘Save the Hacker’, a two-day hackathon. The attempt is to provide programmers with a platform to showcase their ideas and build applications that make an impact. “We want to give talented programmers a taste of what it feels like to build actual products,” says Girish Mathrubootham, CEO of Freshdesk. “We’re hoping this will motivate them and give them a head start and set them on the right career path.”
The hackathon is scheduled for May 9-10 in Chennai, and along with Freshdesk, other leading companies like Google, Twilio, Box, Saavn, and Olacabs have also joined the mission, offering over Rs 50 lakh worth of prizes and goodies for participating teams.
To make it easy for developers to turn ideas into apps, Freshdesk and partners will be giving away free credits to help them build their applications on the cloud. Google, Twilio and Box are giving away credits which can be used to develop on top of their platforms. Additionally, Ola will be offering free rides to the hackathon venue for participants, and Saavn will be giving away free Pro accounts.
Vignesh Natarajan, who participated in the first edition of the event last year, says, “The event taught me that unlike what I learnt in school, a real hacker doesn't open up an IDE and start typing obscure code only to come up with an app a few hours later. It involves careful design choices, planning ahead, writing tricky test cases, and most importantly, working as a team.” Vignesh, a computer science graduate student at Arizona State University, adds, “Save the Hacker was the first significant step I took in the direction of getting myself ready for the 'real world'.” Vignesh is looking forward to working for Amazon in the summer.
According to him, good developers don't just solve problems that fit some client's requirements but come up with new problems to solve. “Every new viral product today is something that people never knew they wanted. I think that's what drives success today. To me at least, the hackathon was a starting point when I realized coming up with new and exciting problems to solve is as important as coming up with interesting and novel solutions for existing problems. I would not take up a typical IT job as it would stop being fun after a few weeks because I have seen the fun side of the software development world.”
Last year, Save the Hacker saw 80 (around 30 teams) programmers participate. Of these, several were either IT engineers who were just one or two years into their jobs or college students.
Interested teams can register on savethehacker.com and submit their ideas in either of the two tracks available: mobile or web. The top 100 teams will be shortlisted based on the ideas and will be invited to the hackathon by Freshdesk. Freshdesk and Google will also have mentors at the event to help developers shape and prune their ideas over the two days.
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