As I said in my previous story, it was at FYPM 15 (FOSS Young Professional Meetup 2015), the real drama happened. After getting shortlisted for the finals of the FYPM 15 IoT project competition, I was really excited as usual.
The competition was on 21st December and we reached home on 18th December evening after attending the first stage of evaluation. I got only less than two days for preparation since we have to reach there by 20th evening.
In most of the vacation, my family used to go on road trips. Usually I and my brother preferred journeys to the hill stations. And during this vacation when the discussion about tour destination came up. I strongly suggested Trivandrum and we made it a family tour.
If you win the competition, we can extend the tour to Kanyakumari so that you can sponsor the entire trip with your prize moneyMy father cracked it as a joke.
Actually we were planned to go to Kanyakumari even if I didn’t win. We reached Trivandrum by 20th evening. We stayed at a hotel near Kazhakootam and the competition was at the famous Mascot Hotel in the city.
We reached the venue by morning 9 am on 21st and after dropping me there, my family went sightseeing at Neyyar Dam.
Mascot Hotel was really big. I’m little bit afraid by seeing totally unfamiliar faces around me. Fortunately, I met my friend Fazil there. He was one of the volunteers of the event. But he went busy with the event activities
The event had a participation of about 100. Mostly final year students and professionals. The first day was full of sessions regarding open source software and hardware. The competition was scheduled for the second day.
I sat alone in the middle of the crowd listening to those sessions even though I could understand only a little.
Meanwhile my father and brother called me frequently, narrating where they were and what they had seen. This was because, they already started missing me. Somehow I completed that day and joined with family.
And the day arrived and the competition was in the evening at the end of the meetup. At noon, Srinivasan Sir who was the coordinator of the program came to me and said that I need to present and demonstrate my project on the dice.
Can I present it in MalayalamI asked with anxiety
He agreed. Since I was just a second-year student then, I had no confidence to speak in English. My confidence level further decreased when I knew about the other finalists.
There were projects from professionals of TCS (Tata Consulting Service). That too a humanoid robot capable of taking selfies with humans. There were projects from other premier institutes like NIELIT.
I lost all my confidence when I came to know that I was the youngest participant among the five finalists and that too without a team. As I said in my previous post my team was OMA (One Man Army) and I preferred it due to some of my previous experience, which is of course another story which I will tell later.
I was so tensed when the competition started and even went to restroom a couple of times due tension
At last, I came to the stage as participant number 3. Fasil helped me to set-up i-post on the table. Mic was hand hovered to me and started my presentation.
Actually I hadn’t prepared a PowerPoint for i-post. Fortunately, I met Chithira and her friend who helped me to prepare my presentation using open-source software. It helped me very much.
I presented my project in Malayalam with Thrissur slang. I felt like Pranchiyettan but somehow I managed the presentation. I thought that the audience will laugh at me but instead they supported me with great applause.
And I still remember the support I got from the audience after the presentation. Some of them came to me and started discussing ideas with me and sat near me. Actually we formed a team.
All other participants presented in English very well and the presentation came to the end. Everyone stayed curious to know the result and before announcing the result, Pratheesh Sir, who was one of the judges came near me and said
You presented well but don’t make hope. Any way sit in the front row
I became confused and I had no hope of winning the competition. And Akshay, ICFOSS fellow started announcing the results. Third and second results got announced.
And instead of announcing the winner, he went on a pause for a few seconds and asked the audience to guess the winner.
I couldn’t forget that moment when all the audience said my project name i-post. It was like a movie scene and some times life becomes more dramatic than a movie.
And Akshay announced the winner, it’s i-post. My project bagged Rs 50K as the first prize !!
Is it a dream?? It took some time to believe it.
It was the idea and social relevance behind the i-post that helped me to win in this competition. During the presentation, I shared the applications of using i-post to monitor the malfunctioning of streetlights in Sabarimala where the KSEB workers find it difficult to reach due to the attack from wild animals.
This event again made me believe in the power of ideas than giving importance to technologies. Start with a mere idea and go in search of technologies for the implementation.
After receiving the prize from the guest, a lot of audiences came to me, appreciated me, and took photos with me.
I eagerly called my father and told this. My whole family came to the hotel to pick up.
The next day we went to Kanyakumari and spent a day there. While returning from there, I got a call from the news reporter of The Times of India newspaper.
They wanted a telephonic interview with me. They started asking questions and I answered them. At last when she asked about my future plans I said that I wish to start a lab for innovations.
What, your plan is to a startup?She asked
I said yes even though I knew no idea about startup then. Since we were traveling in the car. I had to repeat my answer loudly.
I want to start a startupMy sound got increased little bit as my father stopped our car.
And my father, mother and brother looked me astonishment. Thus the notion of startup came in my dreams for the first time.
The interesting thing is that Thomson was there among the volunteers of FYPM 15, with whom later started Infusory To know more about how we started, read Startup life starts