What's it like to win a sustainable development hackathon?

Jun 15, 2018

sustainhack idea hackathon winners

photo: winners and organizers of #SustainHack, Forum Odpowiedzialnego Biznesu

#SustainHack ended on 5th of April, but it feels like it was just yesterday. We’ve had the chance to ask the finalists of this challenge some questions in order to get to know them more personally and share their perspective with you. How exactly is it to be a winner of an idea challenge? What does it take to stand on the podium of a sustainable development hackathon? Let’s dive into this discussion today!

Speaking will be are winners of both challenges in the competition. BGŻ BNP Paribas bank invited creative minds to solve problems of elderly members of our society from being excluded from the wonders of technology available today when it comes to banking. Kompania Piwowarska set out a goal for contestants to create inspiring initiatives to prevent pregnant mothers, underage people, and drivers, from consuming alcohol, as well as promoting responsible alcohol consumption habits in general. Since both challenges were focused on well-being of members of our society, and raising social awareness, let’s find out what inspired them to develop their winner projects. So let the hackathon winners be heard.

First we asked the creators of “Easily - Safely - Online” about their inspiration, motives, and goals.

The app aims to prevent exclusion from modern banking technology. It eliminates difficulties of modern technologies that elderly and disabled people face when using internet banking in everyday life. The app is fully customizable to users’ needs and is suited to be used by visually and hearing impaired people. [...] Working on our apps our main focus is the usability of created solutions. Accepting the BGŻ BNP Paribas Bank challenge perfectly aligned with our way of thinking about applications and solutions that work for the user and help them in everyday activities.

The determination in pursuing other people’s well-being is truly inspirational, no matter what form such intention is fulfilled in.

We’ve also asked the creators of Kompan Chatbot, winners of challenge from Kompania Piwowarska, about their part of the story.

The solution we’ve proposed is not meant to scare or moralize people, but rather to show in a friendly way how to consume alcohol responsibly. For this reason we’ve suggested creating a unique chatbot that will be a companion to adolescent in alcohol consumption. Kompan Chatbot is a discreet friend that reminds about rules of responsible drinking, safe return home, shows alternative ways of spending time with friends, warns you when your texting becomes sloppy, reminds of drinking water and eating food - simply put, it guides the user through the world of responsible alcohol consumption. Young adults will have the ability to rely on Kompan every time of day and night, simply by messaging it on Facebook Messenger.

The team behind Kompan Chatbot came up with a simple, easily approachable solution to educate the younger part of our society about responsible ways to enjoy alcohol. With Facebook Messenger being the dominating instant messaging platform in Poland this tool is a perfect fit for our society.

When asked about the progress of developing their projects one of the team has encountered a rather unexpected roadblock, that, surprisingly, did not affect the end result. In question is the team behind Kompan Chatbot.

To be honest the whole situation was quite funny. We met 2 or 3 times and loosely discussed different solutions that would fit to either of the challenges. It quickly became obvious that the challenge set out by Kompania Piwowarska was closer to us because we ourselves are part of the target group and we know the problem of irresponsible alcohol consumption first hand from the streets of Warsaw. In the beginning we prepared the first version of the project… which, after discussion, turned out to be targeting the underage. Thus, two, maybe three days before the deadline we had absolutely nothing. We began talking with friends, brainstorming ideas, checking out different technologies, and we stumbled upon chatbots. We knew from the get go that this was the perfect idea. It surprised us that nobody else has used a chatbot in that context before.

And, at last, we really wanted to know how the winners themselves feel about their participation in a sustainable development hackathon.

From the creators of “Easily - Safely - Online”, when asked about any possible chances to develop their skills during the event:

First and foremost, the ability to effectively work as a team, with particular emphasis on the skill of augmenting one’s own ideas and negotiation, all based on choosing the optimal ones. [We participate in hackathons] irregularly. The main cause is the ability of making useful solutions and developing own creativity. [...] A hackathon is a source of valuable experiences and a place for networking. [...] It is worth to pursue one’s passion in initiatives like a hackathon. By means of such contest we combine fun with developing valuable skills and gain experience.

For the same question the team behind Kompan Chatbot said:

Dorota: I've taken part in similar challenges a few times already and I’ve always created innovative, yet complicated solutions. Having learned from my own mistakes this time we decided to go with simplicity which turned out to be the key to our success. [...] I don’t think I’ve developed any new skills, but I definitely tested the ones I had. It’s good to sometimes go out of one environment, one work system, and try your best outside. This way of testing yourself is actually a way of self-development.

Magda: First of all, hackathons like this one show that everyone can come up with a good idea and start something of their own. Second, it’s a concrete sign for our potential employers or business partners that we can answer their problems or challenges.

Dorota: There always is a purpose in doing more, this tells about our engagement, creativity, and continuous development. This also positively influences one’s professional career development and can open doors to many new opportunities.

Magda: Simple ideas are the best. If you can’t explain your project in two sentences… this probably means the other person won’t remember what it was about!

It is not without some hiccups, but the two teams we’ve had the change to ask those questions made it all the way to the top. Congratulations! May our paths cross again in the future.

On a closing note, let’s also hear from the CEO of ChallengeRocket.com, Paweł Kwiatkowski: Being a part of #SustainHack was a true honor for us, and we’re extremely proud to be a part of an initiative whose whole purpose was to serve the society. Sustainable development hackathons are not as popular in Poland as we would desire, but this is a step in the right direction, one of many steps we wish to take. As much as it is important to grow your business, it’s also crucial to take a breath and give back to the people around you. It is our hope that many such challenges emerge in the future and that ChallengeRocket.com will be a part of them just like it was this time. I would also like to congratulate the hackathon winners of #SustainHack. May their passion and perseverance inspire all of us, they are the proof that the will to help others is within us.

Missed your chance to take part in #SustainHack? Worry not, many more such challenges are still to come! Hop on our list of hackathons and challenges, pick one that suits your vision! See you soon?