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Dream11 Hackathon 2017: Building trust, one idea at a time

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.”-Simon Sinek

Trust and transparency have always been (and will always be) the cornerstones of what makes Dream11 a great product and a great organisation. When we’re not busy creating a strong, positive work culture and a killer product, we spend our time and energy in trying to figure out the answer to a single question: How do we build more trust among our users (and Dreamsters too)?

The ideation and voting process

So it was only apt that the theme of the Dream11 Hackathon 2017 (29th November — 1st December) was ‘Trust’. While we are primarily a Sports Tech company, we also have a lot of functions that don’t work on technology — Marketing, HR, Customer Success, etc. What made this Hackathon unique was that we invited entries for both tech and non-tech ideas from the Dreamsters. The best ideas would then be voted for by every Dreamster and the top 14 ideas would be ready for execution.

Each idea needed to fulfill three conditions:

  1. It had to have high impact on trust
  2. It had to be executed in 2 weeks
  3. It had to be easily scalable

While we were expecting a good response, the amount of entries that came in surprised us. That’s the beauty of opening up the ideation process — ideas come from the unlikeliest of sources. A Marketing team member suggesting a tech innovation, a member of the Finance Team suggesting a solution towards strengthening our legal framework, an idea to revamp the UI of our contests page — these were just some of the many, many ideas that were put across and voted for. In the end, a total of 14 ideas (11 tech + 3 non-tech) were finalised for execution.

The Grand Auction

We love the excitement and thrills that come with every aspect of sports. This is why we decided to set up an auction in the style of popular T20 leagues to add an extra element of fun and strategy to the entire process. Each team captain (the person whose idea was selected) had 100 credits to pick a minimum of 5 team mates, who were divided into categories like Frontend and Backend developers, Quality Analysts, Marketing, HR, etc. similar to the categories you’d have in cricket. As expected, the excitement reached a fever pitch as the captains furiously attempted to outbid each other for their preferred teammates.

With the auctions done and dusted, it was time to get to work! Each team had 48 hours — 3:00pm from 29th November to 3:00pm on 1st December — to get a fully functional model of their idea along with a presentation. Meeting rooms were booked, laptops were fully charged and the teams were raring to go. A lot of Dreamsters didn’t leave the Home Turf for 48 hours. For those who stayed over, food, drinks and even toothbrushes were provided to ensure their comfort. The Home Turf was buzzing with an energy that would put most sports teams to shame. To see a bunch of people who have never directly worked with each other come together and work towards something bigger than themselves is one of the most inspiring sights in a workplace.

The judging process

People can trust each other only if they understand their own limitations first. We were very aware that if we selected judges internally, it could lead to unconscious bias, and it would be impossible to be completely objective to all ideas if the judge was already leaning towards a particular idea.

To avoid this bias, we invited our esteemed investors and board members, Ms. Vani Kola and Mr. Sumit Sinha, to judge the ideas and pick the top three. These three ideas would go into development and execution on priority.

The criteria for judging were:

  • Idea & Impact on Trust — 30% weightage
  • Clear Problem Statement & Data driven Hypothesis — 10% weightage
  • Working demo — 30% weightage
  • Execution in 2 weeks — 20% weightage
  • Presentation — 10% weightage
The presentations

A great idea deserves a great, crisp presentation. Each team had 7 minutes to present their ideas along with a live demo. This time limit inspired them to come up with highly creative and effective presentations that wowed the judges

The winners

This one went down to the wire! The competition was intense with so many great ideas being presented, but these were the ideas that made it to the top:


The Grand Winner:

FairPlay user lifecycle:A lot of users are banned if they have violated the terms of FairPlay. Sometimes, this is accidental. The solution is to create a feature and a robust system that gives these users a second opportunity to become genuine players. Because our users will only trust us if we trust them to be better.

Second place:

Social Play:A lot of user trust issues revolve around the ‘genuineness’ of winners. Via Social Play, we create a feature that allows users to follow and challenge other users, tracking their activity to ensure that they are in fact genuine. This solution will solve a lot of user queries and complaints and increase trust in a big way.

Third place:

Instant withdrawals:As of now, withdrawals follow a process that require 5 days for the money to reach the account of the user. If this process is delayed, the user is naturally concerned and starts losing trust. Through the Instant Withdrawals feature, we aim to reduce this process to a few hours and solve user trust issues before they arise.

Non tech winner:

Nudging people towards a better work culture:This award was won by the HR team for their awesome insight about making people more trustworthy and productive by nudging them towards the right direction. From smiley faces at the entrance, to family days, to napping pods, and a variety of other small, yet effective, tweaks to the Home Turf, the goal of this idea is to turn Dream11 into one of the best places to work. Because trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. It is what elevates an organisation to true greatness.

Besides the winners, there were several other ideas that were considered to be promising and are likely to see the light of day in the next few weeks.

What we learned:

Trust is one of the hardest things to earn. Over 48 hours, all of us learned and understood user problems better. Moreover, we learned to trust team members we had never worked with before.

A lot of organisations talk about trust, but at Dream11, we walk the talk. By working together, we were sensitised to the various facets of other job functions, which helped build a healthy respect for each other. Moreover, every Dreamster now sees the larger picture of building trust and will work towards it.

But the most important thing we learned is that we can never stop learning. The thirst to learn something new is what makes Dream11 the undisputed leader of Fantasy Sports in India. The Dream11 Hackathon 2017 was a roaring success, but the road ahead is long and filled with many unseen challenges. But we’re ready, because we’ve learned something most organisations don’t — When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware.