With the initial idea of organizing something cool so NFQ Asia folks can have fun together during the weekend, and to get us more in the exposure to the local tech scene area, we thought of bringing everyone to participate the most traditional and favorite thing of geeks since ages: Hackathon!
Although there were lots of ideas while brainstorming initially, we chose React as the main topic of the competition. Team can build any application in their own preference, could be web or mobile, with the only constraint of using React technology. Regarding the name — yes, you might have guessed it. Just a quick wording combination of React and Hackathon — Reackathon! Simple enough. Memorable enough. And cool enough ;)
Bunch of things needed to be arranged before the event day. We, as organizers, while running deadlines of our own projects in the company, had to prepare stuffs to make the Reackathon awesome at the same time.
I was glad that we had TinyPulse on board as a venue sponsor. With the original target of 50 participants on the day, their office would be the best choice. Decent facilities and support, especially when we plan for participants to stay overnight there.
Judges & Prize
Guess what? You shouldn’t be surprise to know that our NFQ Asia founder — Lars, was one of the three experienced judges, along with Dave Hadju (CTO of TinyPulse) and Harley Trung (Co-founder of CoderSchool). Teams had to pitch their product to them, in order to win 3-months mentorship with Lars. This is a really a good chance for those who want to launch real business though. Along with the mentorship, winners will also receive cool geek gadgets. Personally, I think the biggest prize from the competition is that team can solve something together. That’s what matters.
Now the fun part. We initially plan to spread the words out via Facebook in the most simple way (share it in our timeline and post to relevant React groups to get people register). It was nothing really serious until 2 weeks left before the event day, there were only around 33 registrations. Those who are familiar with organizing event know that usually not more than half of this number would show up on the day. And I hadn’t really thought about it as a serious problem and raised it early to everyone else, especially Lars, so he can help.
Once heard the news, Lars has said affirmatively: We need at least 100 registrations!
We then now asked for help from all friends in our network circle to share the news, mostly on Facebook channels. There was positive result, although not really significant: 10–15 people registered after that.
I hadn’t felt relieved until the next morning, seeing more than 40 people checked-in, which was a better number than I expected. There was even a team flying all the way from Thailand to join the Hackathon, and that really encouraged all of us as organizers!
There were 11 teams in total, and I can see a variety of people there. Some were students, some had full time job already. Some were good about React and participated just to win the prize, and some were new and wanted to get their toes in this trendy tech — just to learn.
Most of the team were formed already before the event day. Settling it down early really helped! They would be then able to jumped right away into brainstorming ideas, problems and solutions to work on.
Sleeping seems to be the least priority during the Hackathon I would say. Some guys didn’t even mind the place and position ;)
There were a couple of teams even stayed awake almost entire night hacking and survived until the Demo in the morning. I was really impressed. However, the sad thing is, they were not the winners in the end. But we all appreciated the effort
Alright, now it’s show time. Each team will have 7 minutes for both pitching their idea and Q&A with judges. It’s was also not about the idea only, they have to show their functional product. Screen. Workflow. Feedback. Something workable! Bullet points with text only would never be enough.
Finally, we decided to have two awards for:
TungTung - Best team from the judge’s evaluation
They joined the competition with an idea of building a React Native mobile app, called TungTung, which allows user to send e-cards (vouchers, membership, etc) to their friends as gifts. With nice UI/UX design, the team has shown a very well functional application during the demo, which indeed impressed the judges.
Thirsty: Best team from the audience’s evaluation
Thirsty is also a group of university students and they worked on a web-app (the application name is also the group name). In simple term, Thirsty lets customers order coffee with customized ingredient which they can select themselves. The fun part is that the application also allows people to draw the cup holder and print it out. I think lots of people would love it. They plan to target local coffee shops around the city as potential customers.
Everyone rocked at the Reackathon. Until next time :-)