Don’t be misguided with the hack word in the “Hackathon”, frankly it has nothing to do with Hacking. It all started with a mail from Ideatory, a Startup, regarding the idea of their client, the DBS Bank, headquartered at Singapore wanted to organise a hackathon in Kochi. And we had our Android team coming in, selected. We were given an idea from the DBS for developing a Banking app in Android and we started working on the concept brainstormed at Cabot with newer ideas pouring in from all directions - Arun, Afsal, Smirno, Lucky, Mahesh and me (Nithin) followed with the wireframes designed by Lucky. Well that was a factor that held us ahead of our competitor teams. We had our base ideas worked on prior to the Hackathon. The Curtain raiser (Friday Evening) We had the final concept ready by afternoon, and as usual, quite a few unclear areas too regarding the requirements. Perhaps it was the fresh ambiance of the Cherai Beach Resort where the event was organized, we could sense an air of difference from the usual scheduled startup village. It started by around 6:30 pm amidst heavy rains. With all new faces around, it was the true spirit of collaboration that bonded us all through. Thanks to the tea break, we did talk to all, made friends with many, and all the more started exploring the limitless opportunities. With 7 teams competing with 7 different ideas, one thing was pretty obvious - there was a good lot to learn and explore. With the base line laid up by the DBS, each team had to build up on these ideas. We were lucky to have our choice selected. We had the DBS team coming in from Singapore and Mumbai. While we settled down, we met our DBS team (The team that was allocated to us) and a whisper from another official saying this team has got the right team from DBS. And started our brainStorming sessions with them which lasted for hours, and needless to say, even throughout the dinner. We left around 10:00 pm with consolidated ideas and improvements in wire frames for us to start with. Hackathon Day 1 (Saturday, 48:00 hrs to go) Well, with DJ arranged in the coder’s area, we had the perfect kickoff to go for the designs. Lucky started with the designing so that icons and screenshots were ready by the next morning. We had trouble configuring SVN ( and sincerely hoped we could have done that before), and though the unstable internet connectivity at the startup Village was making matters worse, the wifi teams were quite cooperative. We had good speed, followed scrum almost every 3 hours, and with DBS team coordinating well with us, we had around 6 to 7 screens ready by afternoon . It felt really good working in that environment with the DBS team in good support. In the mean time, Lucky and the DBS team were coming up with the designs and plans for the next set of screens. And by evening, we had the screens for the base flow and functionality ready for the app. Now was the task of clubbing things together. Hackathon Day 2 (Sunday) After a nice breakfast, with the timer ticking down, we were a bit concerned about the target, from the DBS team with us, we came to know that we had a lead over others in the number of screens done. Thanks to the Integration effort by Arun, in the morning itself we had the integrated code in the SVN Repository ready. While Afsal, Mahesh, Smirno, and I were busy working on the new screens, we had Arun fixing the integration issues, and providing the sliding animation effects to the screens. Each one knew what the other one was doing, thanks to scrum. By and by we had the flows coming up, animation sets, and the special effects coming in, but still a challenge of integrating the code made us a bit nervous. On one hand, we could feel the time counting down from hours to just a few minutes, and on the other, there was the DBS team charging up. We put in, at full swing, integrating our work, cleaning code, resolving conflict issues, testing builds, loading apks and then the final 10.. 9.. 8.. and we were happy that we made it, “on time”. Evaluation time The Evaluation procedure was quite cool, unique and reasonable. The DBS guys gave the app to the COO of DBS Bank who had not seen any of the apps and asked him to evaluate the app based on his user experience, judge without telling them anything except what problem the app solves. Teams were picked up at random and at a point of time we felt we almost lost it. With the other teams coming up with nice UIs and data crunching concepts. Teams had 5 mins to speak up their part of the app, the features that the judge would have missed in the flow and so on. And the final 3mins for the judges’ QA session. By and by we had our turn, there was me, standing frozen till the toe. WIth the responsibility of “speaking up the code” vested on me, I knew the baton was now handed over to me. The kind of support that the team gave me was simply enormous, as each one helped me in recollecting features that I shouldn't miss out. Finally our app was being judged. We were disheartened a bit as few of our good screens, showcase screens could not be reached, due to poor touch listeners which may have been caused by the smaller touch sensible areas. We had our first and most important lesson here. The judgement panel liked the animation, UX Design, concept of data crunching. While it was time for our DBS representatives team to speak, they appreciated well about our collaboration, cooperation, hard work, dedication and they enjoyed working with our team, the Cabot Team. This was a unique appreciation that we got and no other team had. But all these had seemed to fade with the Animation effects, simple UI of a couple of teams. Results We just wanted the thing to be over soon. The results were announced after the dinner. Started with the third position, they said and the third goes to the our app. We were at first, astonished?, or did they really call out our team?, but then it came out as loud cheers from our team and others, all happening in split seconds. We were invited to stage. We were really glad and for the nice appreciation from our DBS team, we really enjoyed the moment. The third position was also shared by another team, they had done gaming level animations into their screens. The popping animation effect had impressed the judge. A team that bagged second, had put in good effort in understanding the banking concepts and simplifying it to the app user. All the tough level calculations were done by the app, which asked least inputs from the app user. The winner team had only 3-4 screens designed but their design and the way they made things available to the app user using a side dash board was an attractive feature. Take Aways Our concept was quite wide and we had to do a lot as compared to the other teams competing with us, we were glad that we could deliver all that we planned on time. But as you know nothing is perfect. We got a few learnings: From the team that came first, we learnt we could have focused on graphical representation of data, which could have given feel to user that his data is analyzed well. The team that came second taught us that for an application, it’s good to have a background study of the existing systems and their drawbacks that we can cover with our intended app. With the team that joined us in third place, we learnt to make apps more of a fun stuff, and informal, still meaning it’s purpose to keep user playing, engaged with the app. Our Uniqueness 1) Team coordination 2) Timely delivery 3) Innovative ideas suggested to DBS All in all it was an enjoying weekend !
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