How Microsoft participated in the 8-week AlfaCamp 2.0 hackathon

    This summer, Alfa-Bank held the second AlfaCamp account, naming it “AlfaCamp 2.0” and inviting Microsoft, Visa and IIDF as partners. AlfaCamp 2.0 is eight weeks of intensive work of the participating teams, free Microsoft software for development under the BizSpark program , including resources of the Azure cloud platform, Alfa-Bank technology and the help of bank specialists in introducing these technologies into developers' products and services.

    Under the cut you will find a story about how AlfaCamp went and what was there.



    The hackathon participants completed more than 60 hours of training in various fields: from marketing and economics to the technology of creating landings. Each team was assigned its own curator - it was an employee of Alfa Bank or an employee of a partner company, on a weekly basis monitoring the progress of the team. Once a week, everyone gathered on DemoDay and showed what was done.

    In addition, the program provided daily lectures and trainings, as well as meetings with experts from Visa, IIDF and Microsoft to help participants with different levels of project readiness show maximum progress during AlfaCamp.

    Where did they all live?

    The organizers gave the teams the opportunity to stay in a hostel in Moscow for free during the project, which was used by 12 participants. In a room specially rented for the time of the hackathon, workstations were equipped where there was everything a startup needed - free wi-if, cookies, coffee / tea and water. There were also numerous lectures and seminars. Of the wonderful ideas that we saw at the event, we especially want to mention the “board of pain”, on which everyone could write about what he lacks in terms of organization. The organizers analyzed the questions received daily and tried to solve them whenever possible, outweighing the stickers from the “pain” side to the “decided” side ... Something worked out, something didn’t. Here in this photo you can see what worried the camp participants.



    How it was


    Selection of applications:
    Over a month and a half, more than 888 fintech projects submitted applications for participation in the project. Of these, 134 teams were selected, the organizers listened to pitches at the pre-camp qualifying event. Participants from all over the country, from Krasnodar to Khabarovsk, gathered at Pre-Camp. It was a ten-hour marathon of fintech presentations - more than 100 teams performed in one day.



    As a result, only 45 teams were selected to participate in AlfaCamp.

    Camp:

    On the first day of AlfaCamp, the teams managed to get comfortable in the room (spacious, bright, two-story), get to know each other, talk with their curators from AlfaCamp and Visa and trackers from the IIDF, learn about the technological support that Microsoft is ready to provide them with at the camp.



    Initial training AlfaCamp was opened by the director of acceleration and educational programs of the IIDF Dmitry Kalayev. First, it was about why startups need investments and when they are not needed, what a venture and non-venture startup is, and why investors refuse. Then Dmitry talked about the methodology that will be used during training at the camp, recalled that the main advantage of a startup is a very quick test of hypotheses.



    During the next master class, the head of the IIDF tracking, Artem Azevich, recalled that a startup is not a small version of a large company and it is necessary to approach its development in a completely different way. He demonstrated to the camp participants how to use the SPACE tool, with which you can understand what the problems of a particular startup are and how to solve them.



    On a regular basis, individual consultations on the methodology of customer development took place at the camp. Trackers and curators analyzed questions in detail to test the business hypotheses of each particular startup.

    For the first time, AlfaCamp became Microsoft's partner this year. Microsoft evangelists Alexander Belotserkovsky (technical) and Dmitry Butyanov (business) talked about the Azure platform and options for implementing their projects using cloud services.



    Cooperation with Alfa Bank

    One of AlfaCamp's core values ​​was the opportunity for start-up entrepreneurs to communicate directly with Alfa-Bank executives and specialists and ask them their questions, receive expertise and advice. Each team was assigned its own curator from Alfa Bank, who helped to attract the project the necessary resources and expertise from Alfa Bank. Among those who advised the projects during the camp were: Vladimir Urbansky, Head of the Electronic Business Block, and Vladimir Bakulin, Head of the Monitoring Department of the Electronic Business Monitoring Directorate of Alfa Bank.

    The teams also had access to the Alpha Laboratories, an innovation development center located near the coworking, where they worked, that creates electronic products and services for Alfa Bank customers.

    This is what AlfaLab looks like:



    Graffiti with superheroes and inspirational quotes on the walls of the open space, a scattering of cozy meeting rooms, a veranda-balcony for working in the fresh air, a bicycle parking and showers for lovers of an active lifestyle - in this cool space, everything contributes to the creative activity of employees.

    Equator

    The fourth demo day became the middle of AlfaCamp, its equator. For some projects, this moment, unfortunately, became a point of no return, they did not advance for various reasons in the development of their solution and should have left AlfaCamp. For others, the equator has become a time of a decisive turn - the half-way has been completed, much has been done and now it is better to understand what remains to be done in the framework of the project.

    Throughout the event, participants tested their projects, searched for their first customers, found ways to monetize and showed their curators how they could become their partners.

    Final:

    August 31, Monday, the final Demo Day AlfaCamp took place. The participating teams demonstrated their projects, and their curators told how they see further cooperation ... 14 teams reached the final, with really very interesting and promising projects.

    At the end of the day, everyone was able to chat informally at the afterparty.

    Comments of the organizers:


    Dmitry Kozlov, Head of E-Commerce Product Development, Alfa Bank, AlfaCamp Organizer:
    This year we decided to focus on m-commerce e-commerce and online projects. And in order to improve the quality of projects accepted in our accelerator, we introduced strict selection rules. For example, when filling out the registration form, participants had to answer more than 70 questions regarding all aspects of their project. And in order to make sure that the guys really “burn eyes”, we did a “pre-camp”. One-day event where we listened to presentations of all interesting projects. And only after that it was decided to enroll the project in the accelerator. It is still early to summarize the final results of AlfaCamp 2.0. But we can say with confidence that we have reached the expectations we were counting on. About the development of projects - finalists can be found on the event page on Facebook.

    Elena Bocharova, Head of E-Commerce Product Development Department, Alfa-Bank:
    With seven finalists, we sign cooperation agreements, the guys connect our P2P services and Internet sharing. With six, we continue to “pilot” to make the final decision on partnership. One team is enrolled in the IIDF correspondence accelerator, in which it will continue its development and, possibly, will become our partner, but a little later. In addition to the excellent experience in interacting with projects, AlfaCamp 2.0 gave us a lot of information on how and where to move on. We began to understand perfectly what our strengths are and what we should work on. What is the best way to search and interact with projects during the next acceleration program. Whether it will be called “AlfaCamp 2016” or we will change the format, it is not yet possible to say for sure, but there is no doubt what will happen.

    Natalia Radosteva, Microsoft Technology Entrepreneurship Development Manager in Russia:
    I would like to emphasize the importance of this 8-week hackathon: on the one hand, it demonstrates deep and strong partnerships between various companies that help startups develop, which brings significant results in the development of entrepreneurship in Russia . On the other hand, it provides an opportunity for novice IT entrepreneurs to get direct contact with future potential partners of their business and get first-hand information that helps to create popular services and unique competitive advantages in the business segment where they start working .

    Alexander Belotserkovsky, Microsoft Technology Evangelist, one of the curators of AlfaCamp:
    The format of the long hackathon looks quite promising - for all this time it turns out to convey to the participants everything that in the traditional one or two days has to be offered in a very adapted and short form. During the communication over many weeks, you can much better understand the essence of the project, its prospects, and develop a work process and recommendations. In addition, we saw that the financial sector is a great opportunity for cloud computing.

    AlfaCamp 2.0 in numbers:

    • Bank received 888 applications for participation
    • Invited to percamp 134 projects
    • Selected 45
    • 14 teams reached the finish line

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