Chennai: Vikatan Group’s Maiden Hackathon event was successfully concluded last weekend in Chennai. Vikatan Hackathon was a hands-on CSR event organized by the Ananda Vikatan Group, one of India’s oldest and Tamil’s emost media houses with interests in Magazines, Books, TV and Digital publishing, as part of its initiatives to reinvent its connect and engagement with the communities that it serves. In its 90th Year, Ananda Vikatan through this Hackathon aimed to come up with innovative solutions that intersect Content, Community and Connections (leveraging technology) to improve lives.
Vikatan hackathon was a structured prototyping event and was designed to spark, cultivate and promote open innovation in the areas of education, agriculture, environment, women empowerment & employability and civic life & community power. The competition was supported and promoted by NASSCOM, ICTACT and The Startup Centre with technical mentoring by Hasura. While Thoughtworks and Amazon Web Services were great enablers the event, TVNews4u.com was the media partner.
The event received a phenomenal response with more than 1500 Software developers, Marketers, Students, Entrepreneurs, Designers, Business Developers and civically engaged individuals participating across India submitting a little over 380 ideas and proposals that were not just creative but were also the most useful solutions community challenges. With great difficulty, 40 potential projects were handpicked on the basis of solving a real community problem by building a prototype during this hackathon and with the possibility of scaling it up to a prospective business.
Vikatan Hackathon event was spread over the last weekend 23rd September 2016 to 25th September 2016, approximately 50 hours and had 40 teams, closer to 140 participants various parts of the country.We had a diversified set of projects ranging direct farmer-consumer connect to empowering the women self-help groups to gamification of civic problems like sewage collection to unifying world tamil readers and writers in a single umbrella to name a few. The event was a great example of how we can harness technology and creativity to solve everyday problems.
Speaking about the success of the hackathon, Mr B Srinivasan – Managing Director, Vikatan Group said “We received an overwhelming response our maiden hackathon with exemplary ideas/proposals which harnessed the power of technology to give back to the society. Most of these ideas are doable, cost effective and scalable as a business venture. We would now like to take this to the next level by giving the required handholding to the teams and getting this executed. I would like to thank the mentors and jury members their valuable inputs to the teams and our various partners their continuous support and guidance in making this event a great success”
The Day 1 event on Friday, 23rd September started with a brief on what was expected the participants over the next two days and the nuances of prototype building. The teams were given a clear brief on the available technical support and competition guidelines. The Hasura team gave the required technical hand holding to every team by mentoring them throughout the weekend. With travel, accommodation, food and recreational activities taken care of by Vikatan, the participants were all geared up the in50 hours non-stop hack.
Vikatan Hackathon had some of the renowned entrepreneurs and technical experts as mentors each of the teamson Day 2. Mr M M Murugappan,Vice Chairman-Murugappa Group, Mr C K Ranganathan –Chairman & MD – Cavinkare, Mr S Abhaya Kumar Founder & MD – Shasun Pharmaceuticals fuelled the young minds with quality inputs and shared their personal experiences thereby nurturing and inspiring them to become successful entrepreneurs. This was a unique experience each of the teams as they had this lifetime opportunity to network with mentors, investors and early adopters.The 40 teams worked intensively to present their ideas to the judging committee, impress them and win the prizes.
On Day 3,the Vikatan Hackathon team identified the best 11 ideas and culminated their presentations bee the Jury which consisted of Ms Padma Chandrasekaran Angel Investor, Mr. A D Padma singh Isaac, Chairman & MD-Aachi Group, Mr Sameer Mehta Director-Mehta Hospitals, Mr Suresh Sambandam, Founder & CEO – Orangescape and Mr Murugavel Janakiraman Founder & CEO – Matrimony.com. The jury members were well-known their business ventures, social influence and intellectual contributions. The jury members witnessed a wide range of innovative concepts and their respective prototypes which included access to trained house helpers, connecting self-help groups to corporates, automatic farm irrigation, community driven Tamil content platm, community based emergency services, Juice extraction banana stem, Enabling volunteering activity, reducing waiting time in public distribution system (Ration Shops), Smart Helmet, Saving water usage in taps and a scouting network young sports champ. All the eleven ideas presented by the teams were completely diversified catering to different communities, were real time and were scalable. The Jury clearly enjoyed every interaction with the team members, were critical yet supportive and ensured that the teams gained more clarity and insight on the execution of their ideas.
The Jury had a difficult time selecting the winners the best 11 teams – and finally chose the four most innovative teams that built elegant solutions- incidentally all Chennai. Mr Prem Kumar, a one-man army was unanimously selected by the Jury as the winner and won the first prize ofRs 75000/- his idea on Automatic Farm Irrigation whichwas cost effective, was easily usable by the farmers, and was easy to make. The second Prize of Rs 50000/- was won by Mr Sivakumar and Team their interactive gamification concept on saving water in taps. Two teams won the third prize of Rs 25000/- each – Mr Nitin Sharma & Team their smart helmet which doesn’t allow the person to start his bike without wearing the helmet and when he is drunk along with other added features like key finder, anti-theft,etc. and Mr Jagan Selvaraj & Team their app model of connecting the self-help groups with corporates thereby empowering rural women with the right opportunities respectively.
Speaking about the hackathon, one of the mentors Mr. Abhaya Kumar, Founder & MD – Shasun Pharmaceuticals said“looking at these teams and their innovative ideas reminded me of my beginning, when I first started the factory with proper guidance. The prototypes exhibited by the teams are doable ventures and as industrialists we have gathered here to teach them on how to create a profitable and sustainable start-up.
Mr M M Murugappan,Vice Chairman-Murugappa Group, while sharing his experiences on interacting with the teams said, “I found it very inspiring to see these amazing ideas which removes my worry about the future of India. There is a good mix of participants which includes students, working community and budding entrepreneurs. He also added that by solving local problems with technology, we could be a trend setter in the International arena. These initiatives should be scaled up by creating an institution and by joining hands with the likeminded with clear process & procedures so that you can replicate across India and the world.”
While wishing the winners and other participants, Mr Sameer Mehta – Director Mehta Hospitals said “being a problem solver and entrepreneur is not an easy path to start. So always dream and focus on the vision you have laid in front of you and keep working on it”
In addition to the winning projects, the jury found merit and value in some of the other projects that were presented to them and had networked with the teams directly future talks on shaping it a viable business which was the key success of the event.
These were two days full of learning experience, fun and moments of excitement, it was an open space to share, learn, connect and network. Over all, it turned out to be one of the well-spent and most memorable weekend not just the participants or the mentors/jury but each and every one who had associated with this hackathon making them look ward to its second edition very soon!!