Four winning teams were selected after a round of five hackathons across three cities in India. Here’s what happened in the exhilarating weekend events.
Emerging innovations can unleash not just new technologies but more effective business models and social impact. Recent developments in India bode well for the social sector: the rise of entrepreneurship, digital infrastructure, and government policies favouring CSR investment in startup incubators.
To accelerate synergy between corporates, incubators and startups, German development agency GIZ, along with YourStory conducted a series of consultations across four cities in India in early 2018: Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi. This was followed up by a day-long workshop in Bengaluru in April, consolidating the learnings and recommendations of these consultations.
One of the outcomes of the discussion was Techathon 2018 – a series of hackathons in Bengaluru, Goa and Hyderabad, with 91Springboard as a partner. After the first round of four hackathons, the top three teams from each hackathon then came together for a grand finale hackathon in Hyderabad. They battled it out for first prizes in four categories: smart city, urban mobility, financial inclusion, and ed-tech.
Here is what happened in the five hackathons, in terms of participation, problem statements, capacity-building workshops, mentoring, jury process, and final winners. The judging criteria were technical achievement, business sustainability, social impact, potential for scale, and multi-disciplinary approach.
Hackathon 1: Bengaluru (May 4-6)
Debasis Goswami, Head of Startup Innovation Platform and New Growth Programs at Bosch, India presented problem statements in two areas: smart city and mobility. They covered management of transportation, traffic and parking, as well as in-car systems and gamification for better mobility. Tech components that could be used included IoT, video analytics, deep learning, community-based solutions and route optimisation.
Bosch India shared SDK kits with the teams, and conducted workshops on deep learning and integrated engineering design. YourStory conducted a workshop on effective pitching, and Digital Ocean shared insights on cloud computing. Inventrom founder Pranav Kundaikar also conducted an interactive session based on his own startup story.
Hosted by 91Springboard, the jury from YourStory, Bosch India and Inventrom picked the following three winners. SMIDER is a retractable traffic divider that can be remotely controlled by the traffic police using a smartphone app. Parker is a set of connected sensors that can transform any free space into a parking area. Sam-e is a hybrid device that turns a normal car into a smart car by connecting it with other vehicles around it.
Hackathon 2: Hyderabad (May 11-13)
A total of 22 participants formed seven teams to compete in the Hyderabad hackathon. They also worked on the smart city and connected mobility problem statements provided by Bosch India. Workshops were held on effective pitching and design sprint techniques.
The jury included YourStory and Bosch India, along with Ramesh Loganathan, Professor of Practice in Co-innovations at IIIT Hyderabad. The jurors picked three winners: Autobots (solutions for hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles), Catalyst (sensor network for parking assistance), and BIOT (smart traffic routing system using IoT).
Hackathon 3: Goa (May 18-20)
A total of seven teams, drawn from 17 participants, gathered in Goa for a hackathon held in parallel with another hackathon in Hyderabad. The problem statements were in education: rural e-learning, experiential learning, digital administration, safe learning environments, and better STEM education.
Participants could draw on deep learning, cyber security, and biometric technologies. One of the unusual highlights of this hackathon was the presence of two brilliant school children among the teams. Hemang and Kunal brought a lot of inspiration and creativity to the event; more such activities need to be held in schools and colleges as well.
In addition to a workshop on effective pitching by YourStory, two interactive sessions on startup journeys were conducted by Luke Sequeira, Founder, Driver and CEO at Goa-based logistics startup Numadic, as well as Milind Anvekar, VP, Open Destinations.
The jury included YourStory and Open Destinations, along with Pranay Gupta, Co-founder, 91Springboard. The winners were WonderSlate (AI solution embedded in learning materials), Team Sama (donation platform for needy students), SaltNow (AI-powered speech translation solution), and Skillathon (connecting senior citizens to a tutor/coach marketplace). Special mentions went to Team Delta and Reaching the Unreached.
Hackathon 4: Hyderabad (May 18-20)
The problem statement this time for the Hyderabad hackathon was financial inclusion: how to provide online solutions to meet the offline banking needs of a senior citizen who has children overseas.
Workshops for the 13 participants (in four teams) were conducted by YourStory (effective pitching) and on technical aspects of developing ideas by Ravi Teha, Senior Programmer, Hug Innovations. The jury included YourStory and Hug Innovations, who picked two winners: Underdogs (app for queue management) and Status 200 (chatbot solution for appointments).
Grand Finale: Hyderabad (May 25-27)
The winning teams were invited to Hyderabad at the end of May for the grand finale hackathon, where they scaled up their solutions from the previous rounds of hackathons. There were 13 teams (including two other local teams), accounting for a total of 34 participants.
Workshops were conducted by Sri Peddu, Managing Director, Powerhouse Ventures; Chaitanya Peddi, Co-founder, DarwinBox; and Abhiram Katta, Investor, Endiya Partners. The jury members included Revanth Dodla, Investor, Endiya Partners, Ravindra Prasad, VP, Technology and Operations, DBS Bank; Anirudh Shah, Founder, 3LOQ; Debasis Goswami, Head of the Startup Innovation Platform, New Growth Programs at Bosch India; Pranay Gupta, Co-founder, 91Springboard; and Kolla Krishna Madhavi, Head of Alliances and Strategic Partnerships, School of Accelerated Learning (SOAL).
The prize money was Rs 1 lakh, along with commitments by SOAL for capacity-building workshops, long-term mentorship by the domain experts, and preferential selection for Bosch India’s DNA accelerator programme.
The entire month-long hackathon experience was exhilarating (though exhausting!), and the participants and partners had much to share in terms of what they gained, the challenges they faced, and what could be done to make hackathons even more productive. See our in-depth analysis article here, in terms of hackathon impacts for participants and partners.
YourStory looks forward to engaging more corporates, incubators and accelerators in hackathon activities with developers and startups, and welcomes your suggestions for themes and schedules!