Winning HyperHack 2019
HyperHack is a 52-hour startathon organised by StartupX. Their vision is to foster a more sustainable-driven world that goes beyond just hackathon to make an impact in the world
My motivation for joining HyperHack was to create, network and have fun. I really do enjoy hackathons to meet new and interesting people. I have been to several hackathons but HyperHack tops it all. The food, people and ideas were the best in all the hackathons I have been — maybe the coffee could have been better.
Starting off on a Friday night, I was really excited for what’s coming next. As I reached the venue, it was full of glamorous people and food. I felt slightly out of place as everyone seemed like a working professional or a founder. Despite that, I found a seat in the crowded room and met Ander. We talked for awhile and he was really friendly to introduce me to his startup that he was running for awhile now.
Shortly after, The pitching and team formation began. Each pitcher was given 1 minutes to pitch their idea. There were lots of pitches, but one pitch really stood out for me and it was Arpit’s pitch on Carbon Wallet. He was a charismatic and confident speaker which clearly stood out from the other pitchers.
My tip on choosing fun ideas in hackathon for developer is to envision the process of building the product. Go with the idea that you can envision building in 52 hours — time is very short. You need to understand your skillsets well.
After hearing his pitch, I beelined straight to chat with him more about his plans for the idea. After hearing more, the idea really stucked and resonated well with me and I was really keen on developing it further.
Carbon Wallet is a carbon footprint intelligence platform. We want every consumer to internalise their contribution to the carbon footprint in every of their purchases and guide them to choose a more sustainable alternative.
The first night was tough, we had to refine our business plan and split responsibilities for the next day. As every other hackathon, we tend to go off tangent sometimes and despite that, we were able to finish by 1:30am and everyone’s headed back home.
Morning comes and we all met back to continue hacking away. We started with market validation by crafting surveys to tackle our assumptions. We also looked at the impressive panel of mentors for potential mentors who can offer us more insights. We were conflicted on our choice of mentors, but a golden tip is to never meet too many mentors due to mentor exhaustion. In the end we decided to consult Alvin from Haulio, Ken from C&K Global Head of Sustainability. They really liked our idea and guided us to look into other avenues to bolster our idea further.
Meanwhile, we started on our product development (mobile application). Being the only developer, I had to prioritise the important features and made sure that the app is ready for demo in 24 hours. I chose to code the mobile app in Flutter as I was comfortable with it and able to code it out faster which is very important in hackathons. Flutter also has very good support for simple animation and beautiful UI.
Fortunately, I had a talented UI/UX designer, Rachel, who really streamlined the creative process for me. She did most if not all of the design to make sure that it is all consistent and aesthetically pleasing. The judges even told us that they really liked our design.
On the other side of the table, the doers(business) people were really picking their brains out trying to analyse our competitors — there were no direct competition. They were also busy crunching numbers to get a sense of our market value. Kudos to them that we really got a sizeable primary survey results which has a good spread of responses and also able to validate our assumptions.
One interesting discovery from the primary survey is that people are more concerned about how their health is impacted from the carbon emission. We realised that innately, we are selfish creatures and we care more about ourselves than the environment as a whole.
One challenge that we faced was trying to figure out a compelling reason for businesses to work with us in our B2B business model. I think a lot of people have the assumption that being sustainable/eco-friendly is not profitable and therefore it is a difficult area to navigate as a business venture. Hence, we have to break that assumption and show them how we can be profitable and also sustainable at the same time.
Sunday comes and we had to submit our pitch deck and get ready for the pitches. I was really nervous for them but Arpit and Linh killed the pitch. I think they nailed the correct keywords which highlights Carbon Wallet importance and resonates well with the judges. We were given tough questions during the final round of pitching which really caught us off guard but we did not lose our cool.
The moment when the 1st place were being announced, we never thought we would win especially when there were other great pitches. Despite that, we were fortunate enough to be the Grand Champion. It was surreal, we just jumped out of our seats in excitement when “Carbon Wallet” was announced the winner.
We were very humbled to be able to share the stage with all the esteemed judges. Many of them were receptive and genuinely excited about our product and we have received many supports and feedbacks which we will learn from.
Finally, I learnt a lot from attending HyperHack, from the business mind to tech skills. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm and cooperative spirit of my team which helped pull us through the long hours. I believed that our diverse backgrounds led us to offer new and refreshing takes on our product which helped to reinforce it.
So what’s next for Carbon Wallet? I really am not sure, it sure is a very interesting idea/concept and for it to go to market would require huge amount of investment of passion. time and effort. Personally, I would like to see it take off and be a part of it.
I am documenting this as a self-reflection article which I hope I can look back to and relive the arduous albeit fun 52 hours. Maybe this can inspire those who are looking to join their first or next hackathon.
Lastly, I want to thank StartupX team and Temasek for the amazing event, all the judges and mentors that were there, and all the amazing people who attended HyperHack. Looking forward to my next hackathon.