While most of the times curiosity kills the cat, this time it brought the best out of it. Our decision to take part in the Smart India Hackathon was purely out of curiosity born from whispers we heard about it.

We formed a group of 6 – Meghana Palakodeti, Sahithya Cherukuri, Shivani Bhatnagar, Annanya Bhandari, K.Sai Arun Reddy, and Viswatej Yetcherla, and sat down with the problem statements. We found ones which suited us the best and thus Innovation-404 was born.

We came up with solutions for two problems statements, one for a medical chatbot and another for an android app for farmers. While we were new to a lot of technologies required, this was a good opportunity for us to learn more about them.

Then began the wait to see if we got selected or not. As you can probably predict by now, we did. Our smart farm diary was selected. It was a problem given by KISAN Forum PVT LTD. We were brimming with joy. Once all of it sunk in, we decided that play time was over and it was show time now.

Our college assigned a mentor to us, who guided us in the process of learning and implementing the required technologies (Android Studio and Google Firebase). It was a long process and we were short on time. We ended up missing close to a month of college classes (not that we minded).

Slowly more and more details came in regarding the competition. We needed customized matching t-shirts, banners, and flight tickets because now that we had been selected, INNOVATION-404 WAS GOING TO RAIPUR!!!

The competition was held all over India on 2nd and 3rd March across 48 nodal centers. Ours was IIT-Bhilai in Raipur. It was a 36 hour long Hackathon. Let me repeat that. 36. Hour. Long. Hackathon.

The team arrived at the center on the afternoon of 1st March; with their game faces on (we probably just looked sleepy, which we were and I bet it showed). We were very nervous but also very proud of ourselves for reaching this stage, but doing so made us even more determined to win the prize.

The next morning laptops charged, we were ready to take on the next 36 hours of coding. Each team had 4 finalists working on 1 problem. We had 3 rounds of mentoring where the jury told us what they expected from us and what they wanted to see, followed by a round of evaluation after each round of mentoring, to check if their requirements have been fulfilled.

They wanted an easy to use App, where farmers could track their expenses, and also provide other features to make life easier for them. We implemented a lot of features of which few were, expense and income tracking, loan tracking, statistical charts, live weather updates, multilingual use, OTP verification, information on government policies, using GPS to find nearby retailers, etc.

There were supposed to be at least 3 team members at the work station at all times for the duration of the 36 hours. To revive the spirit and keep the energies high we had a Zumba session at 2 am in the night and to relieve some of the stress and pressure from the competition we had a yoga session at 5 am in the morning.

As the final hours rolled in, things started to heat up real quick. Nothing looked like it was working. Bugs came out of nowhere and we needed sleep. The pressure was higher than ever and before we knew it we were handing in our final code.

It was 8.30pm. Time for the results to be announced. Breath caught in our throats and fingers crossed. Innovation-404 was announced the winner. We couldn’t believe our ears! We won our first all India competition! Something we never expected to achieve. We were given a cash prize of 50,000 rupees along with certificates and pride to take back home with us.

We were too tired to celebrate and honestly, all of us needed a bath. It was time to return home now. Our parents, teachers and friends were all very proud of us and we couldn’t have been happier. It was all we ever wanted.

SIH was a great opportunity for learning and growing and to be exposed to new technologies. We are very grateful to our mentor, Sai Krishna sir for guiding us through every step of the way, without whom all of this would have been impossible.

SIH has now reached out to all the winning teams, asking if they want to take their project further into incubation (to bring the project to real life implementation). Funding for the entire project would be provided by the company to the teams. And we, Innovation-404 have decided to go ahead with it.

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