A team comprising Adhithya Arun and Meher Shashwat Nigam, 4th year BTech students, along with few others walked away with the second place in the 3rd edition of the virtual Blockchain and Data Science hackathon event that was conducted from October 9-11, 2020.
Evocative of one of the cradles of civilization, the 3-day virtual hackathon titled The Babylon Project saw the participation of around 93 teams from over 65 countries. With the emergence of innovative ideas from this event, the organizers intend to trigger a movement towards a future ecosystem of blockchain developers. The event had two tracks and allowed participants to either build and develop decentralised blockchain applications or apply data science concepts in decentralized applications. This year, an added attraction was the presence of Silicon Valley VC firms and other international investors who were the judges for the express purpose of gauging new blockchain investments.
When Shashwat and Adhithya enrolled in the competition, their original intent was to learn about blockchain and gain more insights into a field in which they had no prior experience. “As is the norm for most hackathons, this one had a team formation channel on their Discord server where participants can network and find teams to work with,” says Adhithya. The duo got in touch with a bunch of like-minded others and a formidable team comprising the following was formed: Ha Linh To, a Singapore resident who is currently pursuing her final year of Bachelor’s in Marketing; Supriya Medapati, an IIT Madras alumnus and incoming MIT Sloan MBA candidate with over 12 years of experience in the tech and emerging tech industry; Suchira Banerjee, Assistant Professor at University of Engineering & Management, Kolkata; and Aryan Vikas Jain, a BTech student from SRM University (Batch of 2022).
The team selected a problem that will be prevalent with everyone turning to e-learning to upskill themselves – too many courses to choose from, lack of motivation to complete the said courses and the absence of a tamper-proof mechanism to store and share learning credentials. Their solution was a decentralized, secure platform called ‘SkillWallet’ which successfully combined blockchain and artificial intelligence to streamline the e-learning industry. “The idea was to make the lives of learners, recruiters, and course providers easier and profitable,” says Adhithya. For learners, the product is a personalized learning path with recommendations and rewards for following through with the goals. For recruiters, it helps in finding the suitable candidates and verifying their credentials. And for course providers, it allows them to create and issue verifiable certificates upon completion of the required learning. All this is a one-stop shop for not only acquiring skills and maintaining educational records, but also for the recruitment process.
The top 20 teams were selected to pitch their idea to the judges in the second round. The finale saw a close contest between the top 6 teams where SkillWallet emerged in second place. “The winners are a mini startup and have been working on the idea since early this year. They have even won previous hackathons with the same concept. We are proud to have made something that was able to compete with such projects that are already live and have had much more time investment previously,” says Shashwat.
With a lot of interest garnered from the community and from the hackathon organizers themselves, the team plans to keep the momentum going. A concrete shot in the arm in this direction is with the opportunity offered by the organizers to issue digital certificates for all participants of the hackathon. “We had decided to take the idea forward and implement it for widespread usage, and this gesture (by the organizers) will help our product get its pool of initial users,” say Adhithya and Shashwat.
To take a look at their pitch, click here.