SequoiaHack :: 2014 -Winning the hack marathon

By now I have participated in 11 Hackathons and won 9 out of them. All were amazing, but SequoiaHack was just way out of the league, an experience I will never forget. Sequoia::Hack is the annual hackathon organized by Sequoia Capital in India.

I came to know about SequoiaHack :: 2014 about a month before the event. Registered for the event, got shortlisted and same time looked for perfect flight plan (I am based out of Delhi) so that I can reach and leave at right time to be back at home without spending a single minute at hotel.

  • ITC Gardenia — Do you really need me to say something here. :) It’s a five-star dude.
  • Registration Desk/Team — Simply put, well organised, no chaos which you usually see at hackathons. From getting name tags to forming team, it was just flawless.
Team Registration

See…! Organizing team put Monica Gellar to shame :P

Organizing team, take a Bow! You guys earned it.

And swag !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “for the love of code”

Nothing about this place which you won’t love. 7–8 projectors with tweet war going on. Getting everyone under one roof was the epic effort to create and maintain hack vibe. What you see in the picture in just 1/8th of hackzone. The moment hackers started walking in, hack adrenaline was all over the place.

Hack Zone

In most of the hackathons, if there’s at least 1 thing you can complain about, it got to be Food. But at SequoiaHack even if you are a crazy foodie, you are out of luck. Just enjoy unlimited food with unlimited drinks.


After an introduction to tracks from mentors, hackers were all set for the hacking time. In most of my hackathons, I participate as one man army to push my limits, this was no exception. I picked the Enterprise Analytics track which was sponsored by MuSigma. The challenge was to build and demonstrate new ways in which tools and analytical methods can make our lives better.

Few minutes later code was in the air and everyone was breathing it.

That’s me

< Hacker tip 1 />

Pick the right idea/problem: Broadly hackathons are of two types, idea specific and problem specific.

Idea Specific Hackathons: These are like open challenges. You are free to decide what you want to build. For better decision making see what kind of hackathon is this. Is it a Startup/ Business Specific Hackathon or Technology specific hackathon? If it is a startup specific hackathon pick an idea which can turn into business and scale up and you can show 10–20 users at demo day. If this is a technology specific hackathon, be the hipster and pick the best tech in your knowledge.

Problem specific hackathons : If this is a problem specific hackathon all the solutions are in the company’s background whose problem you are solving. So take a close look at company’s history and experiments on that problem. You will come to know which problem to pick and what to build.

Prototyping in action

< Hacker tip 2 />

80/20 Rule: Next step is to list down all the tech and tools you can use, features you can build and apply 80/20 rule to it.

80 percent of progress comes from 20 percent of the effort.
80 percent of a product’s usage involves 20 percent of its features.

If you are building an API, you will be doing api design, routing, auth and other features. If you take a close look at the process, you will realise that api building needs very less time while other finishing more, like auth etc. Now since this is a hackathon you need to decide where to put your efforts and on what features. Don’t waste your time on building something which is not the product’s face. Just SKIP that 80% efforts/features in making 20% progress. Once you are ready with 20% apply recursion on remaining 80%.

< Hacker tip 3 />

Know your judges and figure out what it means on your own. :)

< Hacker tip 4 />

Wander around : The most important take point from hackathons is learning. So your nap time should be your time to wander around the hackzone, meet different people, learn about what they are building, tech they are using. So make the most out of it.

One thing which totally set apart Sequoia Hack was the break time. Midnight munching and laughter therapy with the IMPROV. Yeah… No kidding… IMPROV :)

IMPROV in action

After 38 hours of continuous coding, Iwas ready to show off my hack. I built an IOT interfaced data analytics and visualisation platform and named it REFLEX.

Product screenshot

Tech Stack:

  • Mongo DB — Database
  • NodeJS — Programming language
  • ExpressJS — Backend framework
  • Angular — client side framework
  • D3JS — Data visualisation/charting
  • Johnny five — IOT interfacing
  • Arduino — IOT hardware interfacing/hooks

The set was hot, with more than 500 people listening to you. This is the part I enjoy most. Listening to what others have built, showcasing what you have built. The good part, there were no tech glitch at all. It was smooth hence more fun.

Me on Stage with Jarvis!

Well! if at the end of the day people like what you have built, its like cherry on the top, not to mention 2 lakh INR. Yeah, that’s right I killed Analytics track and won what you see right below. Last but no the least Sequoia Hack perk.

Ravi Suhag, Analytics track winner

Sequoia::Hack 2015 is back and this time it’s bigger than ever. So register now and see you there. Don’t forget to say Hi.

Hackoose because #Hackathon is coming!



An agile engineer with a vision to transform software chaos into seamless experiences.

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Ravi Suhag

An agile engineer with a vision to transform software chaos into seamless experiences.