10 Things to Keep in Mind While Conducting a Hackathon

It’s been awhile since we conducted IndiaHacks 2016, India’s largest developer hackathon, and I think the event hangover has subdued. All this while lots of people have reached out to us, asking for suggestions or tips, on conducting hackathons. After having been part of so many hackathons myself, it’s safe to think that I can write on this subject.

There’s so much involved in terms of planning that I can’t specifically point out one important action item. Through this article, I hope to cover most of the doubts that people have with respect to hackathons.

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Interested in conducting a hackathon of your own?

Organization and the pre-event groundwork are everything. Keep in mind the following points:

1.  Agenda: To start with, answer these questions : Why do we want to organize this hackathon? What theme do we chose? Who is our target audience? Who are the judges, the evaluation criteria, the prizes etc

You can always explore existing verticals. At IndiaHacks, we chose themes like IoT, Open Source, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms etc. as it made sense to our developer audience.The community should be of primary concern and the company’s role should be neutral. Don’t name the hackathon after your organization / institute (this is why we opted for “IndiaHacks 2016 rather than “HackerEarth Hack Day”).

2. Keep enough time to plan: Depending upon the scale of the event, you need anywhere from four to eight weeks to properly plan for the event.

3. Finalize a venue:  It goes without saying, nothing concrete can happen until this is taken care of. Figure out the best options available keeping in mind the hall size, how many attendees you can accommodate, availability of ballrooms etc.

4. Secure sponsorship:: To make sure that potential sponsors from different kind of domains can be part of this event, tiered sponsorship and relevant pricing should be used for what you can provide in return for support. This can include different kinds of product / API exposure, as well as branding opportunities. Most importantly, the expensive components of a hackathon are venue, food and prize money – assistance from a title sponsor should take care of at least one of these.

That being said, as an organizer, it’s crucial to strike a balance between making an event worth a sponsor’s time and preventing the weekend from degenerating into a pitch-fest. Your priority is to throw the best event possible for hackers and the tech community. After all, when builders and innovators are exposed to sponsors in ways that don’t feel forced, everyone wins. 

5. Target audience: Tap into existing developer networks and reach out to sponsors and companies with cool, useful APIs. If a company with an irrelevant API contacts you, it’s perfectly okay to tell them that the event may not be the best use of their time.

6. Marketing to potential developers – and of course students! Apart from the mundane press invites, build relations with influencers who can spread the word via social media and word of mouth. You can also ask your sponsors to help with cross-promotion and leverage their networks.

7. Bon appetit:  Okay, this point is really very important. You might face a situation where food has been over-ordered and it’s painful to see it being wasted but it means nothing in front of a frenzy of empty and hangry (hungry and angry) developers.

8. Judging and Prizes: Fix on the number of winners you’ll like to select and the prizes. Define the judging parameters and set-up a panel of industry experts. The credibility of the judges and their reputation in the sector acts as an inspiration for programmers to participate in these hackathons. They want their work to be recognized and seen by the big-wigs of the industry. Convince companies to sponsor a prize and let them choose the winner. Everyone will be happy with this: sponsoring companies want developers to hack on their APIs, developers (like the rest of us) love motivation through prizes, and other fellow developers would want to have a wonderful experience of the event.

9. Attention to details: It’s just a matter anticipating what can go wrong and building safety measures to ensure that that there are no lapses. Common problems that we have observed is: not enough small or medium t-shirts to give, Wi-Fi cut outs, projector stops during presentations etc.

Once these puzzling pieces are in place, the groundwork is set for a good hackathon. Good does not mean effortlessly run, by any means – execution of the actual event is entirely a different ball game altogether.

10. Wrap-up: After the hackathon is over, showcase your work to the world. Share pictures and videos on your website, do a blog post with the winners mention and get the story out in the media. Also make sure the participants are aware what you intend to do with the hacks.

If you are a hackathon enthusiast and want to know every nuances associated with it, visit our Hackathon Handbook

 

The fault in resumes and smarter alternatives to them

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It was one of those Friday evenings when all I’d want to do is laze on a couch in a cafe with a friend and watch the match over a couple of drinks. The friend is my regular companion and even the people at the cafe have started recognizing us; not because we are regular visitors but because my friend who is an HR manager at a reputed firm would start about HR decisions and funny candidates just after a drink or two and his rants would seldom fail to entertain.

But, this day was different, it was a dry day and we chose to go with just soft drinks and some snacks. Conversations were around the match and they were fun too with witty anecdotes from my friend flowing in intermittently. We were however interrupted when my friend caught sight of a person who sat on a table right across the room. “Do you see that man in the gray t-shirt there?” asked my friend; but without waiting for a response, carried on, “ he has one of the most impressive resumes I have come across till date. He has amazing qualifications and experience as a senior level JAVA developer in many good companies. We interviewed him for a senior developer position 2 weeks ago”. I was impressed, and asked,”So, when is he joining?” I was shocked to learn that they hadn’t hired him and it was because they had him undergo a competency assessment that he failed at even in 2 attempts. It made me think if there can be so much discrepancy between what the resume shows and the truth, but then, that is what bad hiring decisions begin with.

There are several cons to this flawed resume bottleneck in hiring:

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Connected car revolution in automotive industry

Ever since the invention of the wheel, the evolution of movement and commutation has been constant and mindboggling. It has evolved from animals or humans pulling a set of wheels, to pedaling, to motor operated structures that run on wheels. As we have transitioned, we have let technology affect our movement immensely. From the first car to the complex luxury vehicles of today, the automotive industry has been one of the most dynamic ones.

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How To Be A Great Developer

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This article is a repost of a wonderful article that I just came across on  https://funkatron.com/posts/how-to-be-a-great-developer.html .It is a great piece of advice for developers, the points are evident to all but still we somehow manage to look past them. Have a look, they are worth considering.

  • Empathy is your most important skill. Practice it with everyone you interact with, and everyone who interacts with your work.
  • Humility goes hand in hand with empathy. Be open to the possibility (likelihood, even) that you are wrong. Know that you will always be learning and improving. Accept and own up to mistakes immediately.

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Top women programmers in history

She is pious, she is a prayer
She can be delicate still be strong,
She is power, she is mother,
She is the strength, she is the core
Above all this, she is a lot more.

She is a woman, she is an energy, but is she a programmer? Can she embrace technology just as she can do everything else just perfectly? We often come across such questions that come up either in our own minds or of those around us. It’s a common notion that technology is a field dominated by the men but the fact is that technology or programming has nothing to do with a beard and moustache, it is as much a woman’s capability as a man’s.

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NASSCOM launches TechNgage to celebrate Technology and Technologists

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Bright minds exist everywhere and technological expertise is an abundance, what usually falls short is the correct recognition, strengthening and harnessing of these skills. The NASSCOM IT service council has thus taken up an initiative to enhance technology skills by providing a platform to showcase them. They are inviting and rewarding highly skilled people in the technological domain for their efforts and expertise. The initiative called TechNgage is aimed at encouraging Indian technologists to become world class techies and stands by the objective statement of ‘Celebrating technology and technologists’.

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Hiring at HackerEarth – February 2016

Since the inception of HackerEarth, our endeavour has been to get the right people join the right jobs. With so much emphasis on pedigree in our current job market, we understand the need of a helping hand who will understand that skills matter more than the source of education and we strive to cater to that need. February 2016 was a great month in terms of hiring at HackerEarth.

Below is the infographic that statistically represents our efforts and success:

Feb-Hire-data---Updated

 

 

Tips for recruiters to avoid drop offs in recruitment

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The growth of a company is directly impacted by the talent it hires. As top talent is highly coveted and most sought after, it is likely to face stiff competition in hiring them. Recruitment is a long process and requires a considerable amount of effort and resources. The average length of the recruitment process varies across different geographies, but it generally ranges from 18 to 35 days.

According to industry trends, if 1000 people participate in a recruitment process, only 100 will be shortlisted and only about 10 will stand a chance to secure an offer. After going through such an exhaustive process, it could be very disheartening to encounter drop offs. A survey by Recruiting Unblog states that drop off rate is as high as 42%.

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Machine Learning through Open Source: Podcast with Mr. Prajod S Vettiyattil, Enterprise Architect, Wipro

 

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I just saw that beautiful dress that I was ogling at yesterday. And guess what, I saw it on a technical blog I was reading. How does the blog know my preference? Well, the answer is machine learning. The ability of a computer or a device to detect patterns and behave accordingly without being explicitly programmed to do so is machine learning. This term has literally taken the market by storm recently and its applications are vast, interesting and worth exploring.

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Steve Jobs was Stubborn

Steve Jobs quote

Apple! What comes to your mind when you hear this? The red fruit that keeps the doctor at bay or the high-end phones and mac computers that make everyone drool? Both I believe, but the latter is definitely the stuff of our dreams. Who knew that a company which started in a garage will become the tech giant of the world someday. There was definitely a lot of sweat that went behind it, a lot of commitment that took it where it is today.

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