Hackathon 2023 Winners Speak: Interview with the Captain of SpendWize Team

by The Content Team at AdTech 22 January, 2024

Like any other bright event, Hackathon 2023 keeps on ringing the bell. Exciting memories cross our mind, and we cannot stop sharing them with you.

We have discussed the event with a real techie star – Zenos Pavlakou, the captain of  SpendWize team, aka winners in the Improve Life in Cyprus challenge. Impressions, ideas, emotions, and advice for future Hackathon participants are waiting for you in this interview. 

Hey Zenos! So, let’s start with a small introduction of your team. Tell us about SpendWize.

Zenos Pavlakou, captain of SpendWize: Hey! As for my team, SpendWize, we are a group of close friends who share entrepreneurial spirits. We all have a deep passion for innovation and common interests that bond us. What truly unites us is our eagerness to experiment with new technologies, without fear of taking risks or making mistakes. Our primary goal was to enjoy the event and learn new skills together.


What were your expectations about Hackathon? Did the event meet your expectations?

Zenos: For all but one of our team members, this marked our second time participating in the HackAdTech hackathon. Therefore, we already anticipated that we would have a fantastic time. Remarkably, one of our team members traveled all the way from the UK to join us at the hackathon, and he enjoyed the experience so much that he’s already planning to attend the next one.

Please tell us more about your project. What is that? What were your aims? How did you carry your project out in such a short time?

Zenos: We took on the challenge to develop a product that has the potential to improve the quality of life in Cyprus. After much thought, we figured one of the best ways to do that is to help people save money by spending it more wisely, hence the name SpendWize. The product we developed was a shopping list app that connects to a database of products from all the major supermarkets. The concept is as follows, after a user enters their shopping list, the app will suggest to the user which supermarket to go to to spend the least amount of money for their specific shopping list.

However, we took it a step further and made use of AI to improve the user experience whilst also keeping the database up to date with the most recent prices for all products. We were able to achieve this by offering financial incentives for users to scan their receipts via the app in order for the AI to detect all the products on the receipts, their prices, and also which supermarket each receipt belongs to.

Furthermore, by scanning receipts, users can collect points they can later use for discounts on the monthly subscription fee.

We believe that if this app were to be further developed and widely adopted in Cyprus, it could be beneficial in numerous ways. For example, it could lead to supermarkets being more competitive with one another regarding their prices as they will no longer be able to hide away from the fact that they don’t offer the best deals. Therefore, this system could indirectly benefit locals who do not even use the SpendWize app.

Moving on, regarding the development process, our team consisted of 2 backend developers, one frontend developer, a graphic designer, and one data developer. Now, this may sound silly given the short timeframe of just 2 days, but we decided to adopt some of the Scrum methodologies, making use of short 3-hour sprints and 30-45 minutes of planning between each sprint. I believe this approach is what led us to have a fully functional prototype within the limited time we had.

In your opinion, what exactly helped you reach your goals and become winners? Maybe you can share some advice for future participants?

Zenos: On the first day, we fell behind our development schedule, which led to some of us feeling discouraged about meeting our deadline. However, on the second day, we had an epiphany: we were over-engineering the entire product. 

It’s important to remember that the essence of a hackathon is to craft a prototype as a proof of concept. There’s no need to focus excessively on creating a production-ready solution; scalability and complex architecture can be tackled when you have months or even years for software development, as it is simply not achievable to design such a system in just 2 days.

What are your general impressions about the event? What was the most interesting/memorable experience?

Zenos: We enjoyed every part of the event, and it was nice to see that there were 1st place prizes for both the Internet Advertising Innovation challenge and the Improve Life in Cyprus challenge.

But the most memorable part was when we won. We didn’t expect it because the competition was tough and there were many talented developers at work.

We are pretty sure that the shopping app from SpendWize will definitely improve the everyday life of people in Cyprus. Hope you enjoyed our interview with SpendWize the same as we did. See you at Hackathon 2024! 

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