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SEMA students and teachers sharing their thoughts about the Hackathon

The 5-7th of November Social Entrepreneurship (SEMA) students and teachers participated in the JCI World Congress 2019 “Pure Magic” Digital Innovation Days Hackathon which focused on solving social problems through using technology. 

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his hackathon attracted a very large number of individuals presenting their challenges and the presentations alongside the event included very high profile guest speakers such as Estonian ex-prime minister, CEOs of unicorns etc. After the first pitching session and recruitment of new team members, 3 SEMA-related teams had been formed: newHorizons, SuperAble, and CREW. During the few days of this hackathon, teams improved their pitched ideas: created logo designs, prototypes of their websites, platforms and etc. 

„Once you really believe that you are solving a real problem and your solution is the best fit for that, you will inspire people automatically.“

Nargiz Askarova is originally from Baku, Azerbaijan and she was the visionary and team leader of newHorizons. „In Azerbaijan, especially in rural areas, girls do not continue their education after 8th grade. This is why newHorizons is necessary: we raise awareness about the importance of education through providing girls and their families with a training program that covers topics such as self-development, leadership, and entrepreneurship,“ explained Nargiz. She said that she had a very vibrant and positive team who really cared about this issue and helped her go through the details of the program. Nargiz believes that the most important thing is to believe in what you do. „Once you really believe that you are solving a real problem and your solution is the best fit for that, you will inspire people automatically,“ she said.

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Nargiz Askarova presenting her idea newHorizons

“These events help to make your idea clear and find out what you need to focus on and what you need to develop."

For TLU lecturer Audrone Urmanaviciene, this was the first hackathon. She was a team member of CREW which had the aim to create a platform for community projects development and their teams' management. Audrone finds hackathons really great, “These events help to make your idea clear and find out what you need to focus on and what you need to develop that it could bring value to your customers.“ „You can find team members who can help you to implement your business idea: developers, designers, business experts. It is great how people with different backgrounds and skills can work together and find innovative solutions to solve a particular problem,” she added.

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CREW searching for team members

„Hackathon is a good opportunity to develop your idea, involve new team members and gain rich experience."

Another SEMA team was SuperAble which was lead by Malahat Nuruyeva. SuperAble is a platform helping disabled people with IT skills to find a job because despite their skills they have problems with job hunting. “The most difficult thing was the lack of time,” said Malahat. “It was a bit challenging, in terms of fulfilling all tasks. As we had only 48 hours, and the working speed of all team members, naturally, was not the same. But my team was very hardworking, we stayed up for late hours and did all the tasks together. All four members of the team have had interesting views about the problem solution and during discussion and brainstorming we discovered new directions which gave an impetus to the project,” she said. „Thanks to this event, I gained great experience in team management and working in a team. Hackathon is a good opportunity to develop your idea, involve new team members and gain rich experience,” believes Malahat.

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Malahat Nuruyeva working on her project SuperAble

“It always amazes me how just after 48 hours the teams manage to present working prototypes and highly developed ideas."

During the event, TLU prof. Katri-Liis Reimann also presented a challenge on behalf of Tallinn University – “How to capture the diverse global experiences of our international students and their impact?”. A team that suggested how to solve this challenge was Validata and they won a special prize from TLU to encourage them to take their idea forward. Katri-Liis found this event very rewarding. “It always amazes me how just after 48 hours the teams manage to present working prototypes and highly developed and often validated ideas to solve problems with viable business models. This co-creative environment is ideal for startup enthusiasts to work in a very intensive and productive way over a relatively short period of time and produce tangible results,” she said.

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Katri-Liis Reimann with team Validata

"Participation in these events helps to develop students‘ entrepreneurial, team management and presentation skills."

The head of the Social Entrepreneurship programme, professor Zsolt Bugarszki, sums up the importance of hackathons. "Participation in these events helps to develop students‘ entrepreneurial, team management and presentation skills. Social Entrepreneurship programme follows the project-based learning method in its curricula. In this method, solving real-life problems and having encounters with non-academic partners is very important. The programme relates its activities to the vibrant start-up and innovation ecosystem of Tallinn and as a part of this strategy," he said.