The Smart Living Hackathon as experienced by Shaw, our new Intern


Padang & Co’s newest intern, Shaw, recently joined the UP Singapore Community. The Smart Living Hackathon, organised from 23 to 24 June, was his first ever Hackathon. The following excerpts document his experience.

I did not expect to have such a great time working during a weekend!

The Smart Living Hackathon invited innovators across the community to leverage on Voice Tech and create new solutions that would transform the way we live. With StarHub, OCBC, SPH, and Google Assistant as partners of the event, the top prize was a massive $10,000. In addition, good ideas could also be picked up for development in a commercial pilot. Thus, I wasn’t surprised to see more than 130 participants making up the 36 teams vying for the prizes on offer.

Mingling before the Hackathon begins

Mingling before the Hackathon begins

Saturday started with workshops on Google Assistant and Actions on Google by Mr James Teh, Strategic Partnerships Development Manager, Google, and Mr Shishir Jayant, Head of Business Development in India and Southeast Asia, Google. They went through why should partners care about conversational bots and what exactly is the Google Assistant, along with the best practices for building Actions on Google (AoG). After a short break, Ms Kartini Mulyadi, Technical Solution Consultant, Google, showed us the best practices for designing Persona and Conversations. These sessions really made me look forward to a future where Voice Tech and internet of things becomes a common thing in our daily lives. Just imagine the convenience!

Listening intently to the workshops

Listening intently to the workshops

Then it was time for the hacking to begin. It was fascinating to see the variety of participants we had hard at work — from the experienced, former Hackathon winners to the enthusiastic students. Our team and I were ready on deck to help out with teams’ requests, and provide them with food and snacks along the way. As the venue was opened overnight, we also set up a cozy environment for teams to watch the World Cup matches — a mini competition was held for people to guess the number of goals scored during the three games that night, with the winner going home with a Google Mini!

Taking a break - watching the World Cup

Taking a break - watching the World Cup

Sunday morning came around quickly, which meant that it was time for the teams to pitch for their chance to be one of the 25 teams making it to the final presentations. I was lucky enough to be delegated the role as an assistant to Adam Lyle, Executive Chairman, Padang & Co, during these selection rounds. Now, I had the opportunity to witness the pitches and new ideas before anyone else, as well as learn from the incredibly useful, effective tips from Adam to the teams, helping them to perfect their presentation and ideas.

Finally, it was time for the Final Presentations. It really impressed me to see how most teams took the feedback and improved barely 4 hours after the pitch clinics. The 25 teams had to present in front of the judging panel that included:

  • Justin Ang, Head & Vice President Product, StarHub

  • Milind Sanghavi, Head of Digital Payments, OCBC

  • Gaurav Sachdeva, Chief Product Officer, SPH

  • Shishir Jayant, Head of Business Development, India & Southeast Asia, Google

The Judging Panel (R-L): Justin Ang, Milind Sanghavi, Gaurav Sachdeva, and Shishir Jayant

The Judging Panel (R-L): Justin Ang, Milind Sanghavi, Gaurav Sachdeva, and Shishir Jayant

It was amazing to see the great quality of ideas presented by all teams. In the end, first prize went to Team Persona, who developed a voice-based personalisation agent built on Google Assistant that uses user data to personalise existing apps & content, to make life more efficient and relevant to users. I was particularly impressed by how they managed to book a taxi in real time by simply using voice commands. All the other winning ideas are also worth checking out here!

Even though there were only a few chosen winners, every team also received a free Google Mini as a thank you gift for their hard work over the weekend. I was incredibly heartened by the positive vibes and enjoyment that resonated from the participants — such a feeling is probably the most rewarding any organiser can possibly get! Hackathons, like many other events, are no easy feats to organise and execute. I was very fortunate to have colleagues who were willing to guide me as well as participants who were extremely cooperative. A huge thank you to everyone involved — this was my very first Hackathon experience and definitely not my last!

Participants at the  Smart Living Hackathon

Participants at the Smart Living Hackathon

We hope that you enjoyed reading about Shaw’s perspective of the event as much as we did. As always, you can subscribe to our newsletter for more information on our upcoming events!

UP Singapore Team

Christina Oh