On the 11th of October, our Cnext team made a trip to the Port of Antwerp for the ChainPORT hackathon. In true (wo)men-in-black style, we entered the venue at eight o’ clock decked out in black Cnext shirts. Those matching shirts were a smash hit as we got a lot of compliments from our competitors. Looking and feeling like a team, we were ready for three days of hard work, developing, data science, perseverance and expanding our horizons!
A one-on-one with a newspaper
We dove straight into our challenges that first night. As said in our previous post, we were going to work on the mobility in the port. However, we also decided to take on a second challenge, to streamline documentation of dangerous goods. Our mobility case was already fleshed out, but for the dangerous goods, we had to start from scratch. So we spent the evening looking through the data and picking out the coaches with whom we wanted to talk the next day. The preparations took us well into the night, which we closed off by socializing and relaxing before heading home. I say heading home, but our data scientist Arnas Loda took dedication to the next level and spent the night at the venue on a camp bed!
That evening also saw the birth of our very own famous Belgian. Debarati Ganguli got her fifteen minutes of fame when she was interviewed by De Gazet van Antwerpen for an article about the hackathon and our goal. You can read what she had to say here (+).
Interviews and perseverance
Our second day was filled with interviews with people in the business. As developers, we have a clear view of what is possible with technology, but it’s by talking to the business that we can really look at what problems need to be solved. For the mobility case, these interviews helped fine-tune our idea into a finished product.
Our dangerous goods challenge, however, was an entirely different mountain to climb! We still needed to work out our approach, so we got busy talking to all the business coaches. Each of them, however, had different views on how to best tackle this challenge. After a few talks, we were stuck and a bit frustrated, and our teamwork was put to the test. However, we kept going with determination and talked to as many people as we could. Turns out the people we thought could provide the least information, actually were the most helpful. Suddenly, everything clicked and we got to programming until we were well into the wee hours of the night. Our CEO Peter clocked out at four in the morning!
Let’s get social
On Saturday, we had to finalize our presentations and pitches. We checked and validated some of our ideas with our business coaches for the umpteenth time, just to be sure we were on the right track. When everything was done, we got seven minutes in front of a jury to present our solution to the two challenges. The six best teams would move on to the final round. Sadly, we were just cut short from entering the finals. But we didn’t go home empty handed, because we won the ‘Let’s get social’ award for most active on social media!
Let’s get social !! pic.twitter.com/1pXj1qEQ0B
— Cnext (@Cnext_eu) October 13, 2018
Even though we didn’t win the hackathon, the audience was clearly impressed. A lot of people approached us to discuss their projects with us. In the words of Peter: “Three days of hacking gave me three weeks of follow-up work!” Clearly we got some things right, but we can safely say that our pitching skills are probably not one of them. Lessons learned for our next hackathon.