How can generative AI be used to power personalized product descriptions, improve security & observability tools and change the way online shoppers experience fashion and style? Those were just a few of the questions addressed by participants of Raxkathon 2023, a fast-paced 24-hour hackathon presented by Rakuten India. With the core aim of tapping the potential of generative AI and solving business challenges in the fields of Fintech, commerce, mobile, telecom, privacy and security, Rakathon 2023, which was held on September 8 and 9, welcomed 100 top teams to test the bounds of human creativity and AI intellect to push the boundaries of what’s possible in tech.
In its fifth iteration, Rakathon 2023 welcomed a diverse group of participants, including developers, engineers, AI experts, data scientists, entrepreneurs and students. This year’s Rakathon consisted of two phases: idea selection and a 24-hour coding competition. The social coding event drew over 3,500 registrations, resulting in 2,750+ teams, each with their own unique ideas. After a rigorous selection process, the top 100 teams were chosen to present the best of Rakathon.
A showcase of innovation and leadership
The event’s opening chords were struck by Sekhar MK, Vice President of Rakuten India, as he welcomed participants with enthusiasm and anticipation. This was followed by an address by Sunil Gopinath, CEO of Rakuten India, whose words of encouragement set the tone for the competition. Participants were then treated to a deep dive into the transformative potential of GenAI by Namita Das, Principal Product Manager at AWS. The importance of safety and planning in the realm of AI was illuminated by Scott Wu, Director of AI Safety at Rakuten USA, Inc.
As the day unfolded, Anand Lakshminarayanan, SVP of Product and Engineering at Flipkart, shared illuminating perspectives on GenAI’s impact on e-commerce. The day culminated with a keynote address by Ting Cai, Group Senior Managing Executive Officer and Chief Data Officer, where the significance of data in the GenAI era was emphasized. Special addresses by Akihito Kurozumi, Group Senior Managing Executive Officer and CIO & CTO, and Tsubasa Shiraishi, Vice Chairman of Rakuten India, added valuable insights to the proceedings before the 24-hour hackathon was declared open by the Rakuten leadership team.
Curtain call: The grand finale
Day two of the event marked the culmination of an intense, 24-hour creative journey with the hack closure. The tension reached its peak as the Rakathon team revealed the top 10 teams, each of whom displayed exceptional creativity and prowess in harnessing GenAI’s capabilities. The grand finale saw participants give demos to a six-member jury panel comprising of Gopinath; Cai; Anirban Nandi, VP at Rakuten India; Naveen Yeri, SVP, Head of Enterprise Analytics and Data Science (India); Intellectual Property Executive, Wells Fargo; Suraj Marpak, Senior Vice President, Product Management, BYJUs; and Vishwesh Pai, Sr. Director of Product, AI Platform at ServiceNow.
Champions of Rakathon 2023
The winning ideas at Rakathon 2023 were a blend of future-focused innovation and practicality. 1st prize went to the GenAI Security & Observability Toolkit, a solution offering a comprehensive approach to managing the security and observability of GenAI applications and solutions. 2nd prize was shared between RakuTry and RakuMend, a dynamic duo of virtual style recommendation and trial assistants, promising a new approach to the way consumers experience fashion and style. 3rd prize was awarded to the creators of GenAI-powered personalized product descriptions, an innovation with the potential to reshape e-commerce by tailoring product descriptions to individual preferences and needs. Additionally, six other teams took home special prizes. These winning ideas not only demonstrated the immense potential of Generative AI but underscored the spirit of innovation, problem-solving and fun that defined Rakathon 2023 as well.
Amidst fierce competition, participants also enjoyed a stand-up comedy session by Anmol Garg. Rakuten leaders also added a personal touch to the event by connecting with participants during the midnight hours.
Rakuten India’s Rakathon was more than just a hackathon; it was a synergy between human ingenuity and artificial intelligence. It established the limitless possibilities that Generative AI holds for the future, leaving participants inspired, motivated and ready to embark on new journeys in the world of technology and innovation.