1st prize at Ultrahack IoT Future of Retail Tieto Challenge
That is the only word accurate enough to describe the spectacular course of events and EPIC WIN that took place over the last week right here in Helsinki, Finland.
To be specific, from 6-8 november at the ULTRAHACK Hackathon, and on November 12 at SLUSH competing in the SLUSHHACKS competition.
We ended up winning the Ultrahack Trophy 1st prize in the category IoT - Future of Retail, access to Tieto's SPARK! Partner Program, and an extra Bonus Prize from the Finnish Patent Office for showing excellence in IPR Planning.
All in the course of just 48 hours.
It is only a couple of weeks ago when we decided to participate and put together a 3-person team.
Our small team consisted of just 3 people, Andriy Tymchenko, Backend Wizard, due to circumstances participating from abroad, Johan Sigfrids from Learning Miles LLC and Tim Gorree from Digistars LLC.
The primary reason for our participation was that we wanted to reward the development team consisting of people from Digistars LLC and LearningMiles LLC for the achievements realized in the creation of the Learning Miles Talent Application in the preceding months, and to so do something fun together.
Having Fun with Hacking
Talking about fun, here is what went down:
On the 6th of november, we arrived at ULTRAHACK with an open mind.
We only had *some* idea about creating a Brick 'n Mortar guide, but we had no concept and no plan nor any prior work as to what we would try to make.
And so we started with doing a little quick research.
From the feedback we received (thank you Taneli, Ksenia, Sigrid, Oksana, Anjuli and others), we learned a couple of hours into the first day, that the biggest problem that people seem to have with their retail experience is standing in line.
We then decided that this was the problem we would take on solving.
QUNO - The end of Queueing
It was then and there that we set out to find a way in which we could tackle the problem of queueing.
A problem that during the course of the event turned out to be much, much bigger that we realized at first.
We started out with the sensor box that was provided to us by Tieto.
We intensively discussed and debated on how to utilize it's movement, vibration, infrared, GPS, GSM, humidity and temperature sensors for several hours and went over countless "What-if"-scenarios on how to accomplish what we set out to do.
And then we realized, after much debate and also a discussion with our coaches and mentors from Tieto, that we were in fact free to use also alternative means of data input to aquire the data we need to build our solution.
We then quickly built a diagram of the technical architecture and got to work.
Already soon we came up with the name, a combination of the words JUNO and QUEUE , and so QUNO was born still on the first day at Ultrahack on November 6, 2015.
On Saturday, after a long preceding night of hacking our solution together, we went to work on building the demo's to prove the technical feasibility. We also got busy on updating our presentation and pitching materials.
And to give you an idea about the intensity of our collaborative communication, over 1500 chat messages were sent between the three of us over the course of 48 hours.
On the last day of ULTRAHACK, we had our first pitching round where we qualified with the final 30 teams to go up on the big stage to present our idea.
This already felt like a major win to us seeing as that most other teams were either bigger or had already been doing extensive prior work ahead of the event.
Also, we felt the quality of the competition was extremely high, and we said to ourselves it would be no shame to lose out to several other teams.
However, we did know that we were on to having created something valuable and exciting, and the more we thought about the problem of queueing, the more we realized the scale of the problem in people's everyday lives and the possibility to do something about it presented a tremendous opportunity.
Before we went up on the big stage on Sunday evening November 8 at the finals of ULTRAHACK, we got great tips from the Tieto Teams present (Tieto CEM, Tieto Industrial Internet and Tieto X Hub) who were greatly supportive with great energy and drive.
We then went on stage for our 4 minute pitch and awaited the final results. It was only after excruciating waiting time yet then and there that we realized we had won the 1st prize for the best team in the Tieto Track.
Fast forward to November 12, SLUSHACKS finals at SLUSH 2015
We knew we had made it to be on the big stage at SLUSH. What we had not antcipated, was the fact that we had dayjobs to attend to from November 9 - November 11, 72 hours that we now knew we would be needing to further improve our concept.
The timetable was short, the tasks at hand challenging.
During these 3 days, in the aftermath of ULTRAHACK, it turned out that the problem of standing in line was a huge issue at the SLUSH event itself.
And so the scope and potential of our concept kept growing bigger and bigger and so we sought a way to capitalize on this realisation.
As I am writing this today on the 15th of november with the benefit of hindsight, it is fair to say that we did not manage to practice enough for our pitch.
We basically ended up with twice as many slides for the expanding amount of relevant information to the concept.
The result was that we fell short of meeting the 4 minute cap of our presentation and so, we felt, slipped the 1st prize of SLUSHHACKS through our hands.
However, all in all, we have tremendously enjoyed participating in this fantastic event and have learned incredibly valuable lessons from it to take home.
SLUSH and ULTRAHACK, the largest hackathon in Europe, must be among the greatest tech events on the planet today.
A BIG THANK YOU to all who have helped to make this happen. You know who you are!
See you there in 2016, we promise to do everything in our power to have QUNO minimize your queueing time there!