Flying high with the winners of the SIA App Challenge 2017!

For the first time ever, the recently concluded SIA App Challenge was held in various BLOCK71s across the globe! BLOCK71 Jakarta and BLOCK71 San Francisco played host to the preliminary rounds and the final leg of the challenge was held at THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise. More than 440 participants across the three rounds took up the gauntlet and raced against the clock to develop innovative solutions to SIA’s business challenges. Team Labuan Bajo was the winner for the Jakarta leg, Team Synthesis clinched the championship for the Student Category in the finals and Team SEA Minervans took the trophy for the San Francisco leg and the Open Category in the finals! BLOCK71 Singapore speaks to them on their motivations and experiences :).

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Team SEA Minervans

What inspired the team to participate in the SIA App Challenge 2017?

For me (Zheng Xin), I decided to participate in the SIA App Challenge 2017 because the existence of preliminary and final round showed that this hackathon was a big event. Therefore, I joined as I believed I would learn much from it compared to other smaller hackathons in San Francisco.

What was a challenge faced by the team and how did the team overcome it?

The biggest challenge our team faced was the technical challenges such as incorporating APIs and using the Ionic Framework. The reason was that we were inexperienced in coding web apps or mobile apps. We overcome it by brainstorming ideas to incorporate the APIs and share our findings from the documentations with the team.

What was the biggest takeaway for the team after the event?

The biggest takeaway for our team, I believe, was our roles in the team and the knowledge of coding an app. This SIA App Challenge was either the first or second technical hackathon we had, so we learned a lot about the framework for developing an app, languages such as HTML, CSS, Typescript and responsibilities of each teammate in contributing to the development of the app.

What was the team’s most memorable moment during the event?

For me (Zheng Xin), the most memorable moment was the night we spent in Amal’s room coding the app and incorporating APIs into the app. We were exhausted, but our desire to win motivated us to read through the dull documentation of Ionic Framework.

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Team SEA Minervans, victors of the San Francisco leg and the Open category in the finals of the SIA App Challenge, composed of Zheng Xin, Michelle, Wei Ting and Amal.

Team Synthesis

How did students from SUTD and NUS end up combining their efforts to form a team for the SIA App Challenge 2017?

We started out as a 2 member team, but after deciding to attempt more complex operation challenges, we knew we had to bring in more people. We tapped into our individual networks to find people who we had good chemistry with and had a complementary skillset. And so, Team Synthesis was born from a merger between SUTD and NUS students.

What was a challenge faced by the team and how did the team overcome it?

For 5 days, we worked on the cargo challenge, but the application to measure cargo dimensions was still too inaccurate for our liking. Despite the deadline looming, we dropped the cargo challenge in favour of the hiring challenge 2 days before the submission day. We used the number of smiles during the video interview and quantified personality traits from their interview transcript to gauge a candidate’s suitability. Although the last-minute pivot required us to work overnight, the team persevered to create a working product.

What was the biggest takeaway for the team after the event?

The biggest learning point is that it is never too late to take a different path. Our team built a working product and delivered a convincing demo for the hiring challenge, which was possible because we dared to take the leap of faith to a different challenge.

What was the team’s most memorable moment during the event?

The most noteworthy moment in our journey was deciding to pivot from the cargo challenge to the hiring challenge at the last moment. This thrilled us because we knew the resulting all-nighter would be make or break. Our journey has just started and perhaps the most memorable part lies ahead of us in Silicon Valley, visiting tech giants and networking with successful entrepreneurs. We are really excited!

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Team Synthesis, champions of the Student category in the finals of the SIA App Challenge 2017, composed of Stephen Chua, Naunidh Bhalla, Lee Tze How and Yustynn Panicker.

Team Labuan Bajo

What inspired the team to participate in the SIA App challenge?

We aspired to participate in the event because this type of competition is rather uncommon. This competition is beyond a hackathon or application development, this is more like business case competition for the technologist — answering business problems using the right technology. And yes, the grand prizes are too good for us not to participate in the competition even though we did not manage to get it :”).

What was a challenge the team faced during the event and how did the team overcome it?

The biggest challenge that we faced was during the ideation phase. A good idea is not enough, we need to get the best idea — one that has a balance between business and technology. We overcame this challenge by crowdsourcing ideas for, and trying to be in a position to judge: What score would we give to ourselves if we are using each idea.

Another difficulty we faced was to find ways to communicate our ideas in just 5 minutes. We limited the number of slides and tried to be selective by showing only the things that matter the most.

What is the biggest takeaway/learning point for the team after the event?

Even though we are/were computer science students, we have very different strengths and experiences when it comes to application development. We have a member who understands business and product management pretty well, member who is very experienced and has a good understanding about design, and two members who are extraordinarily talented & passionate about software engineering. We feel like harnessing strengths from diversity is our biggest takeaway from the competition. We have learnt so much from each other’s strengths.

What was the team’s most memorable moment during the SIA App Challenge?

The most memorable moment for us was during the Jakarta hackathon round. That moment was quite intense as we understood the importance of delivering all the features, given the time constraint. We really were trying our best till the deadline of the submission (we almost did not make it :p).

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Team Labuan Bajo, winners of the Jakarta leg of the SIA App Challenge 2017, composed of Mohammad Awwaab Abdul Malik, Rakha Kanz Kautsar, Shylla Estee Pramadhani and Tri Adhmad Irfan.

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NUS Enterprise nurtures entrepreneurial talents with global mindsets, while advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at Asia’s leading university.

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