Gautham Santhosh

@gauthamsanthosh

Hack in the North 3.0 : How we created India’s best student hackathon

We dreamt to create best hackathon experience but ended up adding happy chapters to our college lives also. This the story of Hack In the North 3.0.

Back in 2017, when Hack in the North 2.0 was concluded, we knew that we had set a benchmark for ourselves. Though we were one of the best and oldest student hackathon in India, we never expected the growth it had going from 1st version to 2nd. We had grown from a poorly funded college event to an event sponsored by Github itself.

To recreate this, we looked back into the core mission behind Hack In the North:

”where creators meet”

The creators/college students often have revolutionary ideas, but what they lack in is the spark to ignite those ideas to reality. Hence we wanted to give them a platform to realize these ideas. So now when we were clear with the motive we started looking for the basic needs required.

Hack in the north 3,0 photoshoot

After looking into stats for what a person attend an event for, we ended up concluding this:

TL;DR

  • Bigger Cash Prize money for winners: No
  • Travel reimbursement: Yes
  • Increase Goodies: Yes (Duh.)
  • Increase the number of participants: No (Quality over quantity — this year we selected ~10% of the people who applied)
  • Food: Obviously
  • A Commitment: To Promote Diversity in Tech with zeal and excitement.

Decisions

One thing we were sure about was that money comes with previous success. So this time money wasn’t that big a problem but to decide where to spend was.

Prize money( the one given in cash excluding sponsored prizes) was always modest in Hack in the North and also we never did travel reimbursement in earlier editions. We knew that even after getting more money we would only be able to choose one among the two. To decide on this, we took a look at our core mission. And as we looked at it, we realized that though a big prize money may attract more people, but it won’t relate to what we stand for. We always wanted to be a platform that will provide everything to a developer who wanted to create something. Rather than felicitating a few who win, we wanted everyone to be treated like winners.

Now our hackathon was at the level where we had to decide whether to either have only monetary sponsors or associate with patrons who may perhaps give just stickers. This does not mean much empirically, but in a broader term, each sponsor increased our work a bit more. We chose to do that extra bit of work because, at the end of the day, it was all about people and nothing could be better than goodies.

Though we could have fund more participants this year, but we decided to keep the number same as we wanted to focus more on the overall experience for a manageable crowd, given our logistical restraints. We had 2000+ applications from all over India this year and we tried to do our best in inviting the best out of them and ended up creating a hub of great developers from all the four directions.

To promote diversity we made a 20% reservation for female developers. A special prize was also kept for best female teams. The same is done for best hardware hack also every year.

Our Guide to Organising a Hackathon:

TL;DR

Organising a hackathon is easy. You just need simple things.

  • A group of people who care deeply about it.
  • Amazing Branding
  • A hardworking Registration team
  • And the most important, a Sponsorship team

To make people get associated with the event on a personal level we decided to go with no hierarchy policy in the organizing team. We went with the decision that the group has consensys about. This made decision making longer, but made everyone feel more associated. A sophomore and a final year working together is what we imagined and succeeded in.

Branding is one of the most crucial parts of any event. Everything that matters is how people look at the event. Our designer and I myself were Obsessed with Minimalism. We decided our color palette and everything done was always in that color and style only. This made work easier and much more professional. We also created a mascot for the event and named him Neo.

For registrations portal, we used the amazing opensource library Quill with some modifications of our own. In order to remove bias during selection, each person was reviewed by 2 different people before getting selected. Though selection procedure took a lot of time, it paid when one of our mentors said

“The best talent pool I’ve ever seen in a hackathon.” — Gaurav Dubey,CEO, ITH Technologies

We are much thankful to our sponsorship team for associating amazing sponsors like consensys, ITH, Github, Topcoder, Z cash, Unity, Heroku, PSF, Gitlab, Hackster.io, RestDb, .tech domains and many more

Sponsors of Hack In The North 3.0

Link and name everyone. We went from a college funded event to a 99% sponsored event in 3 years. It was a long way.

And then after 6 months of preparation, the big day was finally here and we witnessed people from all over India coming together to make amazing things.

Like our participants, our mentors also showed a great amount of diversity. We had Aksoka Finley(New York), Amanda Lee(Toronto), Tim(California) representing consensys, Gabriel (Israel) representing Z Cash, Gaurav Dubey from ITH, Vishnu K S and Rohhit Vashittya from Zulip.

We had workshops by Unity (He brought an oculus), Consensys and Z cash

The Hacks

This year’s decided tracks were namely in the following tracks:

  • AI
  • Blockchain
  • VR/AR
  • Hardware
Facebook post contating details about the winners

To view more photos of hack in the north visit our flickr album

Thank you for reading have a nice day xD

A video we made for branding Hack in the north

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