Team of five wins 500$ prize at RISE Hackathon Organised by Barclays
The following are excerpts from an interview with one of the team members Swapneel Mehta from the Third year Computer Engineering department of Dwarkadas J Sanghvi College of Engineering
Before we begin can you please give us a brief idea of what a hackathon really is ?
So a hackathon is ideally a contest where there are participants from diverse fields. Most hackathons typically involve development of some sort of product. Hardware or software based. Then one that we went for was typically a software based hackathon however there were some people building some hardware based devices some rfid some sort of identification tags but on the whole it was a software based contest essentially.
So you have a fixed amount of time, a set number of hours to build a product based on a problem statement in a field of their choice. In our case we had a relatively broad spectrum of fields.
The good thing about a hackathon is that there is no limit on the technology you use. So you can use APIs you can build your own code, you can do essentially anything you want as long as you’re solving a problem. Which is what gives you creative liberty and leads to people building some amazing stuff.
What was your experience at this particular Hackathon ?
So this particular hackathon was organized by Barclays along and a couple of other sponsors. It was held at the Bombay stock exchange so it was a 36 hour hackathon. It was a really good venue because it was comfortable, the ambience was good and everyone had enough space to sit after an initial scramble. An added benefit was that they had free food(laughs) and there was no entry charge so that really encouraged us to go for hackathons cause it’s a really good learning experience even if you don’t know what you’re going to do when you get there.
So yeah we didn’t really have any specific goal but to build something that made sense. Like any other competition we went through the online registration procedure and we selected a problem statement formed our team and got an identification code.
The event began with introductory speeches by people from Barclays and RISE and from zone startups and partners. Hackathons typically have partner companies. What these partner companies do is that they provide their services to developers for free so it’s sort of like marketing but developers use it to build some pretty cool stuff. So sometimes they end up teaching the companies how to use their product better. Which is really beneficial for both parties. This is why partners have cool prizes up for grabs. There were a number of partner companies like Gupshup; the chatbot making app, we had Yodlee with their data API, Barclays had their own APIs and MICROSOFT and IBM with their respective platforms and a few others.
So what was the problem statement that you chose to work with ?
Our problem statement was the corporate banker Web app statement. So when companies have a single banker and they have to function through a number of different accounts they wanted a one stop solution where they could view all the transactions and various data. So we built a platform resembling this and with a few extra features like remote login, login via SMS, automated SMS alerts, currency transactions, predictions and some more. So we built a sort of analytics Dashboard where a corporate banker, once he logged in he could visualize everything at one go and not have to go anywhere else to acquire additional data. It was a centralized solution for everything. We also had a visualization of their investment portfolio for risk analytics where we used IBM Watson and we used a lot of Yodlee data as they had dummy account generator so you could generate all that dummy data for a simulating a real world application.
And what were the results of your efforts ?
So Yodlee felt that we had the best used case for their data. What we did was use Yodlee data and sent it to IBM Watson and derived meaningful analysis out of that.
So yeah I’d say over a period of 2 days after hacking away and building a great product, we were able to get a prize from Yodlee. Which was pretty cool considering the fact that it was our first major hackathon and it has definitely motivated us to go for more hackathons in the future. But more than the prize I think it was the recognition that you get going up on stage while everyone is wondering what the hell you built to actually get that prize(laughs) which was the coolest part of it.
Was there anything special about this particular Hackathon that you liked ?
The part where the Braclays hackathon was different was that there were a number of activities that were going on. The partners were extremely active and helpful. They would coach you on how to use their technologies and data. They would resolve your doubts if any and basically teach you from scratch. But I would advise that you learn the technologies before you go for a hackathon.
Any words of wisdom for the readers ?
I would definitely recommend everyone to go and participate in hackathons because it gives you that valuable exposure that not many people really gain. It’s a really good learning opportunity expecially when it doesn’t cost anything and all it requires is your time.