Babson Analytics Club Hackathon Take Aim at Wayfair’s Toughest Challenges
By Michael Perlis, MBA Candidate 2018 & President of Babson’s Business Analytics Club
Last week, 80 students from Babson and Boston University took to Wayfair to showcase their analytical and entrepreneurial rigor in the annual Babson Analytics Hackathon. This year’s hackathon had 26 teams and 130 students participate, with the top 13 teams making it to the final presentations at Wayfair’s headquarters. Finalists had the opportunity to present their insights to Wayfair executives, including CFO Michael Fleisher.
Let’s have a look at what the teams experienced throughout the hackathon!
Kick-Off Event and Case Introduction
We kicked off the hackathon at Babson in the design zone. With a packed house, Wayfair introduced this year’s case and data. The case was focused around Supply Chain Network Design, helping Wayfair figure out where they should build warehouses, how many to build, the types of products in each warehouse, and warehouse size. While the data we received was all cleansed, students had the opportunity to solve a real problem that Wayfair faces.
Each team in the competition was partnered up with a mentor from industry. These mentors have incredible experience in analytics, consulting, executive presentations, and much more! Each mentor volunteered their time to work with their teams on idea generation, data wrangling, visualization, and presentations. The idea behind providing teams with mentors is 1) give students another networking opportunity 2) help fill potential technical gaps where students may have limited experience.
Our mentors did a fantastic job supporting our teams, so we owe a particular thanks to Anand Rao, Dustin Cabral, Justin Grosz, Christina Van Houten, David Gamelin, Gil Gani, Mohamed Kante, Nitjyot Saroan, Francisco de Matias, Tianshu Huang, Molly DeJohn, Larry Byrne, Brian Halloran, Marcy Best, Matthew Frischer, JB Lester, Jesse Weissman, Igor Plesca, Varun Sachdeva, Leo Gil, Jonah Berman, Nathan Karst, Ron Keler, Karl Chopelas, and Wellington Palma!
Here are some pictures of our mentors with their teams throughout the hackathon!
Brian Halloran from Accenture, with his team at Babson
Tianshu Huang from BCG @ BCG
Jonah Berman from Google @ Google Cambridge
Varun Sachdeva (Babson Alum!) from Cleartelligence @ Babson Design Zone
Molly DeJohn (Babson Alum!) from CA Technologies @ Wayfair HQ for Final Presentations
Building Student’s Technology “Toolbox” through Partnerships
Prior to the hackathon, Dustin Cabral (Tableau Public Featured Author) from Cleartelligence came to Babson for the 2nd year in a row to share his amazing Tableau skills with our students. This year the focus was around visualization best practices and customized charts, such as Hex Maps!
Tableau sponsored a “Best Use of Tableau” prize for the competition and provided the winners with Tableau Swag! Lauren Kearney from Tableau judged all the dashboards and visuals based on 1) visualization best practices 2) ability to answer the “next” question and 3) design. A special thanks to Lauren Kearney and Meagan Corbett for supporting students using Tableau!
Here are the winning visualizations!
Graduate Team | Juan Camilo Arias, Pedro Dorta, Amogh Shamanewadi, Basa Sidaraddi, Nischal Bondalapati, Carola Leiva
Undergraduate Team | Amy Jiang, Jenny Wang, Tracy Chin, Tara Bunnag, Pepe Chirakiti
The winners with Lauren Kearney from Tableau!
During the hackathon, Bottomline Technologies hosted a SQL workshop for all hackathon participants so they could manipulate the case data to find insights and learn a new tool. Special Thanks to David Sander, David Caouette and Kyle St. Cyr for sharing their expertise!
Alteryx for Good provided students who participated in the hackathon with a 1-year license! Students had the opportunity to learn about a new tool in the analytics marketplace and helped several teams transform their data into insights. Thank you to Quyen Tien for your support and helping us get setup with Alteryx!
We had 13 teams present at Wayfair’s headquarters. We had a winner for the Graduate and Undergraduate pool separately. While every presentation was exceptional, there were two teams that stood out from the rest.
Graduate Team | (Left to Right) Juan Camilo Arias, Pedro Dorta, Amogh Shamanewadi, Basa Sidaraddi, Nischal Bondalapati, Carola Leiva (not shown)
Undergraduate Team | (Left to Right) Amy Jiang, Jenny Wang, Tracy Chin, Tara Bunnag, Pepe Chirakiti (not shown)
Congratulations to our winning teams!
On behalf of the Babson Analytics Club, we want to thank Wayfair for providing us with an extremely challenging case that pushed our thinking, hosting us at their headquarters, and judging all the presentations. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to partner with a great company!
Special thanks to Sean Lane, Michael Fleisher, Rushabh Sheth, Kelli Sigmon, Teresa Wolf, and Matt Lambert for judging; Meryl McLellan and Rebeca Munoz for organizing, and Zach Farrell and Sean Lane for pulling together the case!
Our goal as the Babson Analytics Club is to provide students with practical experiences and networking opportunities to broaden their skillset and become more marketable in the job market. Here is what a few of the participants had to say about the hackathon…
“The best experience at Babson. Learned more than in any other course thought at the MBA level”
~Tamara Kvaratskhelia (Babson MBA ’18)
“The Hackathon was a great way to get hands on experience with a real-world problem. There were so many variables and data files that it was difficult to figure out where to start but this is an issue I feel more confident attacking once I’m in the work force now.”
~Michelle Buslov (Undergraduate Class of 2020)
“A unique and experiential opportunity to tackle a real-life analytics challenge faced by all e-Commerce companies and present direct to Senior Management. This was one of the best events of the year.”
~Cyrus Sabouri (Babson MBA ’18)
“The journey and the presentation are as rewarding as the outcome. A trip that you are only willing to ride having a committed, and a strong team decided to outstand. Thank you, Babson Analytics Club and Wayfair”
~Juan Arias (Babson MBA ’18)
“We had a great time meeting everyone at Babson and Wayfair! The case was challenging and our mentor was incredibly helpful. Thanks to everyone for all of their hard work!”
~Joe Perone (BU MBA ’18)
“I am so glad that I participated in the Wayfair Hackathon! Not only was the experience a great way to apply what I have learned in Babson’s core curriculum to a practical situation, it was also a wonderful opportunity to practice delivering executive-level presentations. ”
~Alison Mooradian (Babson MBA ’19)
“The challenge, together with the opportunity to present to the CFO was exciting and motivating. It was a challenging problem and it’s amazing how much one can learn in a span of a few weeks! The event couldn’t have been more rewarding. Kudos to the Babson Analytics Club for pulling off such a great event!”
~Amogh Shamanewadi (Babson MBA ’18)
“I had a lot of fun with the Hackathon, had a great group and loved the opportunity to look into real problems and use some of the things we are learning at our MBA while at the same time learning more about data analytics.”
~Cesar Bravo (Babson MBA ’18)
“It was an awesome experience playing with real data with millions of data entries. The learning curve was very steep for me, as I got a practice of applying complex mathematical models and analysis to solve real business problems. Thinking about what the competitor is doing and the industry trends along with applying business strategy to mathematical solutions gave a holistic approach towards real world problem solving.”
~Nischal Bondalapati (Babson MBA ’18)
Want to get involved?
We are always looking for companies and individuals to get involved with our club. There are many ways that you can support our future events.
- Sponsor a Workshop – Our students love to learn new tools to broaden their skill sets. This year, we had an average attendance of 70 students and learned tools such as Excel, Tableau, and SQL.
- Be a Mentor – Our hackathon doubled in size this year, and we expect it to keep growing. We will need more mentors to volunteer for next year’s hackathon!
- Sponsor a Prize/Event – Tableau provided our club with some awesome Tableau SWAG for our hackathon this year. Our club helped promote the use of Tableau on campus and throughout the competition.
- Sponsor the Club – become a sponsor of our club! Our goal is to ensure that no student has to pay for any of the events that we host. To do this, we need to raise money to support our events!
Congratulations to all the teams for pulling together great presentations!