Jaipur (aka ‘Pink City’) is most popular for its rich heritage and it’s no surprise that it’s among the most popular tourist destinations in India. The city has a unique aura when it comes to a diverse culture with some amazing international events such as the Jaipur Literature Festival, Jaipur International Film Festival and lots more.
However, the fact that Jaipur has a thriving IT industry, a growing startup incubation culture and an amazing talent pool of engineering graduates and post graduates is not very well known. Therefore, when I tried to float the idea of doing a geek hackathon in Jaipur in 2008, there were no takers.
However, times have changed, the ‘Jaipur Hackathon‘ has arrived and a new tech revolution is set to begin.
To be honest, I’ve always been envious of the Bay Area in California and even cities like Bangalore because they offer a conducive and exciting geek atmosphere with lots of interesting community and technology events all through the year. In that sense, Jaipur has a few event which are noteworthy but it’s far too few and the response in general is lukewarm.
How it all started?
I consider myself fortunate that in December, I stumbled across a small group of people who’d set out on an ambitious journey to uplift the geek quotient of Jaipur.
Jai Vikram Verma (aka Jai)
He’s the founder of StartupLabs.io, one of the coolest startups in Jaipur doing some kick-ass work on Python. He runs the Startup Jaipur Facebook group and I still fondly remember my first conversation with him – that was enough to convince me that he’s a guy who stands out tall in a crowd.
Anshul Khandewal (aka Anshul)
She runs Upside9 – a mobile app studio based in Jaipur. It was heartening to meet Anshul – she’a s role model for every aspiring woman entrepreneur out there. With global stints at Aditi Technologies and Mahindra Satyam, she’s a ‘engineer by profession and a marketer at heart’.
Gaurav Gupta (aka GG)
He works as a Senior Software Engineer at Eligible. An IIT-BHU alumni, he’s an expert Ruby on Rails developer. A couple of meetings were enough to convince that he’s a true foodie at heart (and stomach) and has an unmatched sense of humour.
Their first target – explore the possibilities of doing an overnite hackathon in Jaipur. For a Tier-2 city where a lot of people do not understand what a ‘hackathon’ means, this seemed like a daunting task. However, having failed seven years back in my solo attempt, it was refreshing to see others believe that they could pull it off.
Several planning sessions, meetings, days and nights were spent trying to figure out all the details and we set out on our journey. The event was split into 3 parts – an orientation session to get feedback from people and share our vision, a follow-up session aimed at educating people on ‘How to build a Minimal Viable Prototype in 24 Hours’ and finally the grand finale -30 hours of non-stop hacking.
Conducting an event of such scale requires dealing with a lot of nuances – logistics, marketing and most importantly getting participants and sponsors convinced of your idea and vision. Thankfully, we received a lot of support from volunteers and several startups in all aspects and I think that itself deserves a blog post so I’ll leave that for now.
Anyway, the orientation session was a resounding success with lots of participation from both student and experienced professionals. It’s tough to get a full house on a cold winter morning but the pictures say it all.
The best part – everybody strongly felt the need for doing such events but there was simply nobody who went ahead and tried it out. Sometimes, it’s good to shed your inhibitions and do something even if it might not eventually work, after all failed is better than not having tried at all.
More details in Part 2 coming soon, stay tuned!