Once a Hackathon Participant, Now a Judge

Over the past several years, I’ve had a chance to participate in various hackathons. But it wasn’t until few months back that I got to experience a hackathon from the other side, as a judge.
The event was India wide Hackathon REVA HACK organized by Google Developer Students Club of REVA University. There were many sponsors for the Hackathon.
I was invited by REVA university to Judge a Hackathon, I was excited and was looking forward to watching participants create interesting projects from scratch, then present them to us.

There were total 3 Judging Rounds. The criteria for judging is based on functionality, design, creativity and execution.
There were so many interesting ideas – from apps that helped to detect skin cancer to apps that made loan process easy to others which helped in securing your desktop files and many more innovative projects were developed.

Being part of the Hackathon Discord group was a great experience. All the teams worked hard throughout the Hackathon, mentors were very helpful and by seeing the Discord Community chats it seemed that the Speaker sessions were very helpful for participants.

There were different Tracks in the Hackathon like Healthcare, Cloud Computing, AI & ML,etc.
There were 10 winners in total. There were Cash prizes and goodies for the winners. Cash prizes for tracks. Certificate for all the participants.

Being a judge, and watching the process from a different perspective was fun and inspiring. It was an honor to see the great ideas and meet the teams who developed them.

The Winners were the teams who exceeded expectations. They did things that were more than required. 
The experience, creativity and execution of the builders are the key factors for success. These factors set apart competing teams. The ones who did well had a clear well thought out plan for execution. They were calm under pressure and they were having fun.

REVA Hack was very well run, and I am willing to support well run hackathons because I think it’s an important way for developers & students to develop real programming skills.

Why you should participate in Hackathons ?

Hackathon is a social coding event which brings together Developers, Designers, Product Leaders, Hardware enthusiasts and coolest partners for usually weekend of hacking.
There are many reasons to participate in hackathon, I have listed down few important skills and benefits one can get by participating in hackathons.

What Hackathon offers you ?

  • Expand your comfort zone : It can be very easy to remain in your comfort zone, doing things you know how to do and never really challenging yourself. At hackathons you will be constantly challenged to push yourself and move outside your comfort zone. Hackathons Challenges you to expand your comfort zone. If you want to learn programming or software design, hackathon is the place to push your skills to the next level. 
  • Inspiring learning environment : If you usually learn at University then hackathon is definitely altogether a different and amazing place to learn. 
  • Mentoring and Support : There is always help available for hackers, so you can ask for help and learn faster from experienced mentors readily available to help you.
  • Working under pressure : Usually hackathons have a time limit from 24 to 48 hours which both inspires and challenges you.
  • Teambuilding skills : Working in a team is one of the important skill which you will learn at hackathon. You can build your team beforehand or find team members via organizer’s social channels before the hackathon. Use this possibility to improve your people skills. You learn how to work efficiently, how to work as a team and how you can put your skills to work in a quick-turn environment.

    Hackathons are a great way to discover new talents, passions and skills.
    If you participate in Hackathon then this will be an unforgettable experience for you.
    It might exhaust you, tire you, but you will definitely learn about yourself and the industry. It will be worth it. There will be a sense of feeling of accomplishment because at hackathons you get things done because there is a deadline and aim.
    In the process of Hackathon, students also pick up important collaborative and communication skills that recruiters look for during placements.

    So whether you are a Student or an Experienced Developer you must participate in a Hackathon.
    I have personally participated in various Hackathons, being a Judge and Speaker at India wide Hackathons.

Speaker at Hack Gujarat & Microsoft Inspire

Speaker at Hack Gujarat & Microsoft Inspire.

In this session I talked about how Slack GitHub are excellent collaborative Platforms for Hackathons and how it can help hackathon participants to collaborate, build and work remotely. I also talked about how Twilio can be used for developing a Collaborative Platform.

I came to know that Hackathon Organizers got inspired by my talk & have created a Slack Workspace for Hackathon and are organizing the complete mentoring, communication & collaboration part of Hackathon using Slack.
Some interesting statistics : In just 3 days there are 350+ participants using Slack Workspace at their Hackathon.

Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events for Community Managers

As we all know Corona virus is already a global pandemic. Many software developers and IT professionals in general have already turned to work-from-home mode as the official guideline is to STAY HOME.
There’s been a large amount of change over the last couple of months due to the impact of COVID-19 on
in-person events.
As I’ve spent much of my last 6 years leading, mentoring, building & being involved with community events I thought I’d share some tips and insights I’ve gained over this time on what you need to consider for going online.

Major benefits of hosting virtual events :

  1. It Costs nothing : With a virtual event, organizers tend to save on logistical costs such as venue rental or other hospitality expenses such as Food & Refreshments, Insurance, Accommodation (which is applicable for a multi-day event such as conferences) & many other costs involved in organizing an in-person event.
  2. Accessibility : If you are thinking about accessibility then Virtual events are more accessible than
    in-person events, with the captioning and ease of attending from comfort of your own setup.
    Virtual conferences can be quite powerful, and can be scaled to thousands of attendees that would be very difficult to gather in-person.
    And yes online meetups and round-tables give your members an opportunity to have intimate discussions from the comfort of their home.
  3. Wider Geography : Another important thing is you can now expand your meetup to a wider geography since physical barriers are not an issue. By running it online, your event becomes more accessible to a global audience. Organizers can now combat space constraints which they faced while organizing in-person events. So by choosing a platform suitable for your event, you will be able to potentially house a bigger audience without the limitations of a physical space constraint.
  4. Inclusivity : I feel Online events are great to drive Inclusivity. In-person events usually take place in the evenings or at weekends and at venues that aren’t always accessible to all. Such arrangements exclude people who face logistical or any other difficulties in attending meetups.
    In Online events people can tune in from anywhere. On top of that, live captioning helps people who struggle with accents and speed of speech from various speakers.
  5. Wider Audience : Your event can reach wider audience, Online events can have a much wider reach than In-person events. Think of all the members you miss at In-person events because of schedules and budget costs. Think of students and international members as well.
    For example, one of the global developer Summit gathered around 1000 people in-person last year. They had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the event and worked on it year round.
    Now they are hosting a Global summit, which will be a free virtual conference and it’s estimated that they will have well over around 3000 people in attendance. And they have put this event together in just one month.

But if you think from a numbers standpoint, companies are able to drive many more leads, and grow their audience much more quickly than they do with an in-person conference.

When a company allows their community to host virtual events, they can actually scale up a MASSIVE virtual content program quite fast.

Power of Personal Growth in Communities at TEDxpress

I had a wonderful time being a Speaker at TEDxpress- Ideas Empowered.
I talked about Power of Personal Growth in Communities.
Received amazing feedback after the talk. Enjoyed sharing my experiences and how community helps an individual improve soft skills, communication & growing personal & professional brands.

Featured in Slack Frontiers Conference

Excited to share that I was featured as Chapter Leader of Slack Community Pune during amazing Slack Frontiers Conference 

Featured in Keynote video of CMX Summit – the biggest gathering of Community Professionals

Excited to share that I am featured in the Keynote video of CMX Summit – the biggest gathering of Community Professionals ! Truly an honor to be featured along with Founder of CMX

Judge at India wide Hackathon

I had an amazing time judging the India wide Hackathon -REVA HACK. All the teams took lot of efforts to develop creative & useful apps.
Thanks a lot REVA HACK for inviting me as a judge to such a wonderful hackathon.
Kudos to all the efforts of team REVA HACK in organizing India wide Hackathon.

Building apps with Slack – Slack Community Event

Hosted another amazing Slack Community Event. Event was all about Building Apps with Slack. Our wonderful event speaker from Slack gave us the demo on how to create a Slack apps and best practices one must follow while planning & developing a Slack app.
After the Q&A round we received lots of good reviews.
Overall the event went really well & we had lots of fun ! Challenge of running virtual events are totally different from in-person ones.

Q&A Session