50 students built data analytics skills in 2 days at our True Analytics Hackathon - Here is how it went

Data Analytics is one of the most demanded positions in the market. As companies across all types of industries are trying hard to implement and utilize data analytics, the demand for data analytics skills will continue to increase in the coming years.

However, learning data analytics skills is not easy, especially if you are newly graduated or from a different career path. There are two main challenges to acquiring data analytics skills: One is to get your hands on enough data to practice on, and the other is to get your hands on a business objective to apply your skills. It can therefore take years to really master data analytics as it requires resources and an environment that can provide both enough data and business objectives to practice on.

This is why we launched the True Analytics Data Hackathon: to provide both the big data and the business objective to students so they can develop their data analytics skills within a short time. In this article, I will share with you what our hackathon was all about and how the student participants learned new analytics skills in a very short time.

The Hackathon - what was it all about?

In October, 2021, True Analytics organized a two-day online hackathon as part of the “True Lab Startup Sandbox Volume 2” program. The theme was Business Analytics. Ten teams, all of which consisted of 4th-year university students, were selected to participate in the hackathon. To be selected, the students all had to show potential and innovation in the way they thought about data, business, and society. At the end of the hackathon, only four winning teams would go on to the next round, where they will participate in a three month concentrated Sandbox program to further transform their ideas into an actual analytics product.

In preparation for the hackathon, the True Analytics team arranged the necessary details so the teams could hit the ground running as soon as the event started. First, we prepared a sample of geolocation-based population data that shows people’s demographics, interests, and lifestyles across areas. We also prepared data analytics tools and held a few mentoring sessions.

When everything was set and all participants were ready, the hackathon kicked off on Friday morning of October 8 with a welcoming speech by Dr. Pisan Jungjamrernkit, Head of True Innovation Center from TrueLab and Mr. Pedro Uria Recio, Chief Analytics Officer from True Analytics.

The teams were then briefed on their business challenge: to increase True business market share by 50% using data analytics. The students were given only two days to complete the challenge, using the data and tools provided. Even the mentor teams found the business challenge tricky!

The Hackathon - Ready, set, GO!

The real fun began at 1 pm when the participants were split up into tracks A and B. Five teams and three mentors were assigned to each track. Each group broke out into a different Zoom room to start working together remotely.

In the beginning, most teams struggled to come up with ideas to solve the business challenge. Some teams even had to pivot their ideas multiple times. They also faced a lot of technical challenges in understanding and managing the type and amount of data. Luckily, each team could book a total of three mentoring sessions with the mentors over the two days.

Can you guess what the major challenges were that the students faced?

  1. Many teams were too stuck on their first idea. In data analytics, the first hypothesis or idea is rarely the one you end up with. Rarely the first business idea successfully goes to market in the real world, which also applies to the first idea in the hackathon to pitching.

  2. Data analytics is complex, and hardly anyone knows all the answers. Asking questions and sharing ideas with the people around you is crucial for learning new knowledge, experience, and new ideas. It’s not just about winning prizes that you could gain from the hackathon but also the knowledge and experience shared by experts and through working with others.

  3. The biggest challenge in hackathons is time. This also applies in the real world though - as a data analyst, you are always up against time! The key is to plan and manage time with your team carefully. Teamwork is essential to win the game. Once your team agrees on the idea, each person should share their unique skills and decide how to work throughout the event. Working in a data analytics team requires high collaboration skills because you usually need to work with many people from different teams.

  4. It may seem intuitive that the more ideas or solutions you come up with, the more likely you will win. It’s not. Most hackathons only give each team around 5-10 minutes to pitch their idea. That includes explaining everything from a problem, solution, business model, go-to-market strategy, and technical proof of concept. So be selective of the problem you want to focus on. Ensure it has a clear impact on business and the problems you are solving. This is also very similar to real-world data analytics, where you need to focus on one most important problem to solve at a time.

  5. Your presentation can make or break it. If your audience cannot understand what you are presenting, they cannot judge the value of your solution. A good pitching skill will help you communicate to others and customers when you work on real projects. No one would be able to help or even buy your product if they don’t understand what value it’s creating.

The Pitches

After working through the night, the teams were ready to pitch their ideas on Saturday afternoon. And what amazing pitches they were! The judges were astonished by the enthusiasm and passion in each pitch.

Team Middle

Team Innomate

Team YKC

Team ชอบเที่ยว

Many teams surprised us with their enthusiasm and passion in their pitch. Again BIG congrats! to the four winner-teams who were chosen to pass into the Sandbox phase. We will meet them again for mentoring through the 3-months of their business analytics journey here.

If this article was interesting for you, but you are not yet in the data analytics field, you might want to take the first step into a data analytics career like the students did. The opportunities in data analytics are endless!

And next time we hold a hackathon, we would like to challenge you to participate.

In case you are already in the field, why not consider working with us, the True Analytics team at True Digital Group. We are a young and fast-moving team that work on data analytics as a part of our business every day. Explore job opportunities here: https://www.truedigital.com/career-list