Hack4Bengal is widely recognized as one of the top hackathons in East India, and today, I will share my firsthand experience of being a part of this incredible community. I served as the Public Relations and Outreach Lead during the first season of the hackathon, and my contributions led to my promotion to the role of Coordinator in the second season. Through this blog, I hope to offer insights into what it's like to work with this amazing community and help others learn more about it.
The inception of this community can be traced back to a casual hangout between the Organizers - Manish, Shubham, and Sagnik at a coffee shop in Kolkata, where they discussed their vision of creating a community for the people of Bengal and organizing hackathons. They were determined to turn this idea into reality and started working on it. In October, they shared their vision with a group of college students who were part of the technical committee, and I was one of them. I was very interested in the idea and immediately agreed to join the team when they offered me the opportunity.
In November and December, we focused on building a team and getting everything ready, such as creating a logo for our community, setting up a timeline, and more. On 25th December 2020, we announced the Hackathon and received an exciting response from the audience. To make sure that the Hackathon was beginner-friendly, we arranged some pre-hack events to assist our participants in enhancing their knowledge and skills.
Acquiring sponsors proved to be the biggest and most challenging objective. Our team had to present data to persuade potential sponsors to support us. However, as a newbie team, we lacked solid statistics. Nevertheless, our organizers were resolute and created a top-notch Sponsorship Deck, which was distributed to all potential sponsors. As a result, several sponsors were impressed by our ideas and statistics, leading to the successful acquisition of over 30 sponsors.
The most exciting news was that MLH (Major League Hacking) agreed to be a sponsor for Hack4Bengal 1.0. We were aware that MLH usually sponsors hackathons that are in their second or subsequent seasons. Thus, having them on board as a sponsor for our very first season was a thrilling experience.
Our first session was on “All About Hackathons” by Avinaba Ray, Winner of SIH 2020. In this beginner-centric event, numerous queries related to hackathons were answered. The host’s experience of participating in a hackathon helped the attendees gain more clarity. Hack4Bengal’s project themes and prizes were also discussed during this session.
We organized several interactive sessions after that, such as "Web Development - A Complete RoadMap", "All About Machine Learning", "Getting started with Git INIT", "CATCH" and “Introduction to API using Postman”. These sessions were led by exceptional mentors from the IT industry and Hack4Bengal team members, including Niloy Sikdar, Sagnik Mitra, Manish Kumar Barnwal, Arsh Goyal, and Ali Mustafa Shaikh. Additionally, we hosted a coding contest where participants could showcase their programming skills and win exciting prizes. You can watch the recordings of all the sessions on our Youtube channel.
To balance out the serious study, we organized several Discord hangouts where we engaged with our participants and had a fun music night. We continue to hold these hangouts on our Discord server, so feel free to join if you want to connect directly with the organizers and core team.
On the 8th of April, the Opening Ceremony of Hack4Bengal 1.0 commenced at 7 pm. During the ceremony, the organizers engaged with the audience and provided them with an overview of the hackathon, including its objectives and the advantages that participants would accrue. Furthermore, Kunal Kushwaha, a mentor from Major League Hacking (MLH), was present and provided insights into MLH and the resources available to our participants.
The first season of Hack4Bengal officially began at 10 pm right after the Opening Ceremony, and an enthusiastic group of 1500+ hackers got underway with the hackathon. With a limited time frame of 48 hours, participants had to complete their projects and prepare pitch videos. As a Lead, it was our responsibility to ensure that all participants' queries were addressed. We remained active throughout the 48 hours to ensure that no questions or doubts went unanswered.
On the 10th of April 2022, the hackathon concluded at 10:00 PM, following an extension of about an hour provided to participants for last-minute submissions. Subsequently, we were all preoccupied with preparations for the Closing Ceremony, which was scheduled to take place offline at our college on the 13th of April 2022.
On the day of the Closing Ceremony, we were all feeling quite anxious and unsure about its success, but much to our surprise, it turned out to be the most remarkable event in our college's history. We were honored to have IAS Debashish Sen, Riddhi Dutta, and Soumyadip Chowdhury as our esteemed speakers for the session, along with Dr. Amit Shah and Mr. Victor Bhattacharya. We announced the winners of the hackathon in the closing ceremony. You can check out all the projects including the winning projects here.
Following the Closing Ceremony, I assumed that our workload would decrease, but I was mistaken. We had to ensure that all participants received their well-deserved prizes. Although some individuals were not content with the hackathon's outcomes, the judges graded the projects impartially, taking into account factors such as UI/UX and functionalities. It took us nearly a month to dispatch all the swags, and it took even longer for the items to reach the winners.
To mark the victory of Hack4Bengal 1.0, we held a modest after-party with our entire team. Despite facing several challenges along the way, our exceptional team overcame all hurdles to organize one of the finest hackathons in East India. We look forward to sustaining the legacy of Hack4Bengal with an even stronger team, this time in an offline format.
So if you want to experience an incredible offline hackathon then go to our Website and pre-register now!