Living life as a programmer, at some point, you will be introduced to β€˜hackathons.’ Hackathons provide an excellent opportunity for one to build professional contacts, meet like-minded people, learn new skills, and challenge yourself over the course of a weekend. From March 23 to 24, 2019, a set of ingenious hackers came down to the VVCE campus in Mysuru and built some really innovative projects. πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»πŸ”₯


HOW DID IT ALL START? πŸ’‘

Having participated in numerous hackathons, our lead, Pushkar Anand, immensely inspired by InOut, had the prodigious idea of hosting one of our own. As nothing can be done on the fly when it comes to hosting an event, preparing ahead of time is essential to ensure success. And that’s where we started. We recruited our fellow batchmates into the venture, listed all the aspects like marketing, design, and so on, that we needed to pay attention to and divided the workload among the team members.


DESIGNING THE BRAND 🎨

To attract a spark of interest in the potential attendees and sponsors, a good brand design is crucial. Design acts as the first eye-catcher of any event. In essence, the viewer's perception about the brand is what they expect with regard to the event as well. Not only did designing involve creating an attractive website, but we also paid attention to the T-shirts, stickers, and posters. The groundwork at a professional level β€” symmetry, elements, associated colors, you name it was all taken care of by Abhay Ranganath. We also introduced our mascot, Troot, the starfish seen below, which helped the audience connect better with our hackathon. ⭐️

REACHING OUT TO SPONSORS πŸ€—

Let's face it. A hackathon needs the support of sponsors to make it a success. At this point, we'd like to mention that a well-structured email while reaching out for sponsorship is very important. When we initially reached out to sponsors, our pitch wasn't that great, but mentorship from the Devfolio team helped us refine it. We began contacting a legion of companies, of which 17 very eminent ones agreed to support us in various ways some monetarily and some in-kind. We also received some super cool schwag to give away. Content with the dedication the team was working with for the hackathon, our institution decided to cover the rest of the monetary needs to help us take the event to the next level. πŸ’ͺ🏻

HOW THE FLOW OF REGISTRATIONS TOOK PLACE

Applications for the hackathon were done through Devfolio. The applicants registered through the 'Apply with Devfolio' button on our website and filled in their details on the Devfolio dashboard. The registrations closed on 20 February 2019, with a month remaining for the event. We received about 793 applications (way beyond our expectations!), of which the top hackers were shortlisted based on their Devfolio Bio, Linkedin, and GitHub profile. We sent out the acceptance emails through the Devfolio organizer dashboard for the participants to confirm their participation by RSVPing to attend the hackathon. The accepted hackers were added to a Slack group so that they could form teams of 2-3 if they hadn’t already. The teams were from all over the country and with a wide variety of skills, and portrayed significant diversity with a great representation by women as well, which was pretty awesome. ❀️

"Apply with Devfolio"

HOW THE D-DAY WENT DOWN 😎

On the day of the hackathon, the registration desks were set up by 7:00 am. Upon getting checked-in on Devfolio by our team, hackers received their ID cards, a swag bag full of goodies, including a T-shirt our team designed, along with a bunch of stickers for the hackers to take home. The teams had an energizing breakfast and headed towards the hackathon. The 30-hour hackathon began at our beautifully decorated venue at 10:00 am. The teams' spirits were held high throughout the hackathon while with mentorship by the representatives from companies like Unity, Devfolio, and more. πŸ‘¨β€πŸ«πŸ‘©β€πŸ«

Hackers at work!

KEEPING THE MONOTONY AT BAY

We believe a hackathon is so much more than just the coding part, and we wanted our hackers to leave with a memorable experience. We had various activities like carrom, table tennis, chess, football, throw-ball set up for hackers who wanted to take a break from hacking. We also had a VR booth and photo booth set up for the participants to enjoy. Quiz contests in the middle of hacking were also organized as ice breakers. The contestants actively took part in these activities. Another initiative was a lounge set up close to the hacking arena for the hackers if they needed to take rest. We made sure no one went hungry and had a snack stall, and a beverage dispenser set up 24X7 for the hackers. The hackers made use of these facilities and met many people whom they wouldn’t have otherwise. 🀝

HOW THE JUDGING TOOK PlACE

After hours of intense fun-filled coding, the teams were ready for their hacks to be evaluated. Groups consisting of two judges visited the team tables to review what they had accomplished in the 30 hours of hacking. The teams were given 5 minutes to pitch and demo their hacks. After judging all the teams as part of groups, the judges gathered to review every teams' submission on Devfolio and come up with the best hacks. While the judging process was taking place, it was 'Pizza Time πŸ•' for our weary yet excited hackers! With the judging done, and the results were declared at the closing ceremony to much fanfare. The winners showed that perseverance and patience together was the recipe for success. πŸ†

FEEDBACK FROM THE ATTENDEES

As organizers, nothing feels better than hearing how the participants had a great time at your event. We got an excellent feedback score on the feedback Devfolio collects on its dashboard, and that made us feel quite content. From hackers praising everything from our caring nature to our good looks (we're not kidding!), it made the experience worth it. The feedback proved that the prizes were hardly the best part of the weekend for our participants. The way the organizers connect with the participants and the representatives is as important as the event itself. Kudos to our volunteering team, which acted as an excellent support system for the event. πŸš€

You are breathtaking!

LESSONS FOR THE NEXT EDITION πŸ“–

Not everything we did was perfect. Though we managed to overcome many roadblocks, we learned some valuable lessons. The division of work among the crew members didn’t really follow the plan. Some departments lagged with their work while the other finish their work early, causing coordination issues and delays. We've now learned that communication between team members is crucial. Many participants could also not make it to the hackathon due to the dates clashing with their exams, so we need to plan the dates better for future editions. We started reaching out to the sponsors late, which reduced the sponsor pool significantly. We were already at a disadvantage since this was our first edition, and it takes time to build a positive image in the minds of sponsors. Due to this reimbursing the hackers for traveling to our event was not possible. Despite all these, OnLoad 1.0 was exceptionally successful and well-received, which motivates us to do even better. ⚑️

TAKEAWAYS FROM ORGANISING ONLOAD 1.0 ✌️

We learned that a combination of dedicated individuals and a fantastic event can spark positive emotions, inspiration, as well as a sense of community. This event strengthened our belief that hackathons are a great way to learn new skills, build developer communities, and push the limits of new technologies. We got to talk to many hackers and hear about their cutting edge ideas and how they can solve a wide range of problems around the world. 🌎

A well-hosted event becomes the foundation for a partnership, a professional or personal relationship between participants, ideas, and solutions to common problems, future projects. We were proud to be able to pull off our first edition and do whatever it took to make it possible.

A special thanks to the Devfolio Team for their constant guidance and support to make the hackathon possible. If you're looking to host a hackathon of your own do check out - https://devfolio.co/organize

ANNOUNCING THE NEXT EDITION! πŸ”₯

Yes, you heard that, right! If you liked reading our recap of the first edition, don't miss out on the chance to take part in the next edition taking place from 28 February to 1 March, 2020. We have an all-new website for you with hackers applications live on Devfolio! Find us on https://hackonload.com/

Hope to see you at OnLoad 2.0. Ciao!