Unilever Pakistan holds its first-ever corporate Hackathon at The Nest I/O

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The world over, corporations are recognizing the need to step out of their silos and engage with the larger community if they are to find innovative solutions to the problems that they encounter in the market. To this end, Unilever Pakistan turned to The Nest I/O to help them solve a crucial challenge in their ice cream business.

And thus the Wall’s Zero Degree Challenge was born!

The Wall’s Zero Degree Challenge was a 2-day hackathon organized by The Nest I/O centered on the challenge statement of how to use the power of technology to deliver ice-cream to every doorstep? The winning teams would win a cash prize as well as get an opportunity to work with Unilever in the future.

zd 2-Jehan Ara delivers a keynote to kick off the Wall’s Zero Degree Challenge.

The event kicked off on March 9 at The Nest I/O with a welcome note by Jehan Ara, President P@SHA and Founder of The Nest I/O. “Large companies want to innovate, they want to do things differently. It’s great that these companies recognize that they don’t have all the answers and want the help of young creative minds to come up with those answers. Ideas of customers matter and we are happy to facilitate Unilever in bringing together so many talented individuals with varying skill sets, all under one roof, to find an answer to the Zero Degree Challenge”, said Jehan Ara.

Unilever VP of Customer Development, Amir Paracha addressed the participants and explained that Unilever, like most large corporations, had been a straitjacketed company with set processes and procedures. “But we’re trying to change that” he added. A step towards that change is engaging with the major players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Pakistan with a view towards sourcing new and innovative ideas.

zd 3-Unilever Pakistan VP of Customer Development, Amir Paracha explains the purpose of the hackathon to the participants.

The challenge was answered by people from diverse backgrounds!

The hackathon was a great opportunity for thinkers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to find practical solutions to the problem statement and network with like-minded people. A total of 31 ideas were pitched on the first day out of which 17 were shortlisted by the participants and the Unilever team for the next round. The participants received rigorous mentoring from Unilever executives and experts as well as industry professionals from The Nest I/O’s network of mentors.

zd 4-Participants were coached by the Unilever team and The Nest I/O’s mentor network.

So who managed to keep their cool under pressure?

Thand Machao won the first prize of PKR 100,000 after 48 hours of intense market research and prototyping. The winning team members included Zain-ul-abdin, Hamza Ali, and a 13 year-old student, Nasir Hussain. Ice Xpress was the runner-up of the challenge and took home PKR 50,000.

zd 5-‘Thand Machao’ emerged as the winning team at the Wall’s Zero Degree Challenge.

The shortlisted ideas included diverse solutions from delivering ice-cream using drones, Careem and Bykea to marketing strategies including gamifying the ice-cream buying process. The final pitches were presented to the panel of judges from Unilever including Amir Paracha, VP Customer Development, Sohail Baig, CFO and Faheem Khan, VP Supply Chain. The panel also included Rabia Garib, Chief Editor The New Spaces, Farzal Dojki, Co-Founder and CEO Dot Zero, and Farrukh Omer, Founder and COO ValueLink Software.

zd 6-Teams pitched their final ideas to a panel of judges.

“This was my first hackathon”, said Shazia Syed, CEO Unilever Pakistan. “We have a problem and we have come to you guys (participants) for help. I’m overwhelmed to see that you all know exactly what you are doing here. It’s a great opportunity because you are our consumers and maybe our future employees or collaborators if you continue being involved in the ideas you pitch. We have come here with an open mind and will take back something exciting”, said Shazia while addressing the audience. The hackathon ended Sunday night followed by a networking session amongst the participants and representatives of Unilever.

zd 7-Unilever Pakistan CEO and Chairperson Shazia Syed addresses the participants.

The growing interest of multinational organizations like Unilever in hackathons is great news for the startup community as it will provide more opportunities for entrepreneurs to engage with corporates and allow for a more meaningful exchange of  ideas. At the same time, such events allow large-scale corporations to source out-of-the-box ideas and expose their employees to the benefits of cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset.

If you are an organization looking to get involved with The Nest I/O to conduct similar events, get in touch with our Community and Outreach Manager, Sabika Abbas at sabika@pasha.org.pk.

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