For many tech enthusiasts, the passion to code, create and craft innovations is fueled from a young age. HackDAV, India’s first hackathon exclusively for high school students, empowers young tech visionaries to become promising tech leaders of tomorrow. We speak with Deepraj Pandey, founder of HackDAV, to get his take on what urged him to start this unique hackathon and how high-school students can benefit from it. Read on!
What inspired you to create HackDAV?
Back in 2015, as a high-school student, I was searching for a hackathon to participate in, but I couldn’t find any and college hackathons did not allow participation from students my age. It was this lack of a dedicated platform, coupled with the deteriorating quality of hackathons across the country, that contributed to my decision of building HackDAV. The hackathon strives to provide a superior experience to participants and exclusively caters to high-school students.
Deepraj Pandey, founder of HackDAV.
How can high-school students across India benefit from HackDAV?
HackDAV is in partnership with leading tech organizations from across the world. This makes it an exceptional platform for anyone with a knack for creating things (developers, designers, tech enthusiasts).
The hackathon is beginner-friendly since it is for high-school students, and we have talks and hands-on workshops during our events to make sure everyone takes back new learnings and inspiration. From this year, we have started the hardware-hacks track which opens opportunities for people interested in building innovative solutions through other means as well.
Tell us about some of the most interesting/innovative projects that took shape at HackDAV.
A few projects that stood out in 2015 included:
- An unstructured supplementary service data system to deliver information related to subjects taught in schools in order to help students with access to feature phones in India.
- An Android application that teaches the user concepts of a particular subject based on another subject that the user is comfortable with. For instance, using basic concepts of Mathematics to teach Chemistry.
The second edition of the hackathon was held this year, in 2017. A few projects that stood out included:
- A security application for Android devices which takes a photograph from both, the front and back camera when someone long presses the power button (in an attempt to turn the device off) and sends the two photographs along with the device’s current location and the amount of charge left in the device to the registered email id.
- A social network for movie buffs and packed with a few nifty features wherein the user would be prompted with famous dialogues from the last movie they saw.
- An Android/web app which would suggest recipes when given an input of ingredients from the user.
Do you collaborate with brands? How does that work?
I get in touch with the partnership/marketing divisions of several companies and pitch the plan on how we want to go about organizing the event. After laying out the blueprint, I talk about what they can do to help us achieve our objectives and what is at stake. Essentially, it involves going over the benefits for all the parties involved.
What are some of the challenges you face while organizing HackDAV events?
Apart from the amount of work that just keeps piling up as we inch closer to the event day, one big challenge that I have faced in the past three years is finding sources to finance the event. I make sure that the quality of the hackathon is not compromised just because HackDAV is a free event. That puts a lot more pressure on the financing part.
Luckily, though, the hackathon has never seen any major setbacks due to last minute budget cuts; thanks to our amazing sponsors who helped make this hackathon what it is today. This year, all of the 200 high-school participants went home with INR 11,000 worth of goodies and the winners got goodies worth over INR 20,000. Thus, it is safe to say that despite the challenges, we have manage to deliver more than what we promise in every edition of our hackathon.
How does being on a .TECH help you with your branding?
Since HackDAV is a hackathon, .TECH fit the picture perfectly. Not to mention that it is catchy; which served well during the promotions. We had a category prize for dotTech and it was one of the most popular categories at the hackathon. It also played a role in improving our branding, since we are relatively new, and the recognition we received was crucial.
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