After the Challenge – Theodoros Sofianos
Theodoros is a recent WUR graduate. He participated in the Cornell Digital Agriculture Hackathon as a member of the team Supply Chainsmokers. They aimed to minimise food losses through the entire food supply chain by using Internet-of-Things technologies. What’s life like for Theodoros after the Cornell Hackathon?
How did you experience the Challenge?
The Hackathon was an intense, demanding and life-changing experience. I’d had previous experience with competitions, but this time I felt like the best (digital) minds in agriculture and leaders of the industry were there to work together to provide innovative solutions to the industry’s most overwhelming challenges. Working on demanding challenges with so little time was exhausting and making team decisions was often challenging, but the combination of interdisciplinary knowledge and bold imagination moved us through the process!
My team and I managed to create an entire system for reducing food waste. It drew the attention of the Microsoft team that was there!
What are your plans?
The challenge itself was a great experience, but the Hackathon was very helpful even after it had ended. Whenever I have a job interview or whenever I apply for a job, I am confident that this experience is what makes me stand out from the rest. Almost every employer I talked to after the challenge was curious to learn more about the Hackathon and what we did as a team. I think it shows them that you are serious and up-to-date about your field, that you can think outside of the box and that you are willing to work hard under uncertainty and pressure!
How can we follow your next steps?
You can follow me on my LinkedIn page!
What is your goal?
During the Hackathon I felt exhausted; we worked for 20 hours a day and I could feel my mind thinking about the challenge even when I slept! It’s a tough mental and physical process, yet the level of knowledge you acquire and the quality of projects you create are outstanding. Whenever I felt I couldn’t take it any more, I gave myself small breaks to walk and blow off steam, I refilled my re-usable coffee cup and thought of my team and our ambitious goal and boom… I was motivated to work even harder again!
After this challenge, I was even more motivated to finish my thesis and start my own food-tech start-up. I ended up doing an internship for my start-up and I am now close to having our first product on the Greek market. The Hackathon and my representing WUR definitely made me more confident of my skills to follow through on such an ambitious project.
What is your ultimate tip for other students?
I think that having fun and working on a project that you’re really passionate about are the two key components of success in Hackathons because they are mentally draining challenges that will push you to your limits. So try to join a project that inspires you or create your own. Be as specific as possible about the solution and even create a prototype during the challenge. Work hard, make an amazing presentation and have a lot of fun!
Who or what inspires you?
The person who inspires me and who I want to be like someday is Elon Musk. I think he’s the perfect example of a true visionary who regularly challenges the status quo and does this while having fun! In addition, a must-follow Twitter account is Naval Ravikant.