September 23rd, Apella, New York City, MIT SOLVE 2018 Global Challenge FinalsMIT SOLVE 2018 Global Challenge: https://solve.mit.edu/events/solve-challenge-finals-2018
WE WON BIG!
Pictured from left to right: Abby Jones (Business Development Manager, Colaberry) and Ram Katamaraja (Founder and CEO, Colaberry)
Exactly one month ago today, I went into the MIT SOLVE FINALS competition feeling confident that we would win. I am a data-thinker - the odds were in our favor. We had a 53.33% chance to win. We had one of the most relevant “Work of the Future” solutions, immediately applicable to all markets in the US and around the world. We successfully mobilized Colaberry alums, mentors, friends, family and well-wishers from across the world to support and vote for Refactored, and against all odds, won the Community Award for most favorable solution - before we even went into the pitch competition. So, in my mind, the odds were stacked in our favor and I was extremely confident.
As I started to watch the other Solve Finalists pitch, my confidence started to erode bit by bit. The personalities of the competitors were amazing. They had unbelievable solutions, making unparalleled impact all over the world. Admittedly, I began to shrink inside. The competition seemed like it was getting tougher and tougher as each minute drew on.
Then came my turn. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and committed to do my best. Committed to do my best for the sake of everyone who helped me get this far - the amazing team at Colaberry made up of dreamers, mentors, alumni, friends, family and supporters. And, committed to do my best for the chance to leverage this opportunity and create world-wide change.
I went onto the stage, gave my three-minute pitch and answered three-minutes of Q&A. It was over and I felt that it was NOT my best performance.
Watch Our MIT SOLVE Finalist Pitch Video Below:
If you cannot access the video above, click here to view: https://youtu.be/WBCW0CeCFag
Then came the painstaking time for declaring the winners.
Abby and I were holding our breath as they started to announce the winning solutions, calling one name after the next. Each name being called was the name of one of the other remarkable solutions.
Towards the end, just as we started to lose hope, it happened. REFACTORED.AI.
I went on stage to accept the certificate that read, “Work of the Future Solver”. I was elated and relieved that I had made the team proud. I went back to my seat and posted the message on Facebook "We WON!" - and immediately became immersed in my phone. Then I heard it again, Refactored.ai. I didn't know what was happening. Our name had been called again, not once but twice. We won the General Motors Prize for Advanced Technologies and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation AI for Betterment of Humanity Prize.
That is when it hit me, hard.
We didn’t just win the challenge, WE WON BIG! We won four awards total:
- MIT SOLVE Work of the Future Solver
- General Motors Prize for Advanced Technologies (https://youtu.be/rotez04yqUk)
- Patrick J. McGovern Foundation Artificial Intelligence for Betterment of Humanity Prize
- Community Award for Most Favorable Solution
I was in total shock, breathless and out of this world. I couldn't stop crying over the next two days. I knew that we were helping people all the while, but this recognition validated our impact. We are helping people who have little to no opportunity get high salary jobs. Cashier to Facebook Engineer, Bank Teller to Data Developer, TV Technician to Quant, Gas station attendant to BI Developer, Truck driver to Data Architect... the list goes on. As Dave McLaughlin, General Manager at WeWork once told us, "You guys are turning ordinary coal into gold."
Colaberry is literally running one of the most successful data science bootcamp and training platforms in the United States and nobody in the mainstream knows about it - yet. We do not pre-screen people like other bootcamps do. We let anyone join the program and firmly believe that anyone can succeed if they are given the opportunity, support, and pathways to success. We developed our platform and ecosystem around this principal and still adhere to our mantra, "We never give up on you, unless you give up on yourself."
We are deeply humbled to receive such recognition and honored to partner with MIT and the rest of the SOLVE community. Our work is never done, it is only just beginning. We are excited to embark on the next phase of our journey as we set out to make a global, lasting impact with Refactored.ai.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this blog series where CEO of Colaberry, Ram Katamaraja, shares more about the past, present, and future of Refactored.ai.
Abigail Jones | Business Development Manager, Colaberry | firstname.lastname@example.org
Refactored.ai’s interactive, on-demand data training platform provides a scalable solution to keep workforce skills current and relevant in the midst of rapid technological advancement. The platform offers unlimited opportunity to develop agile, adaptable talent and data-thinkers, grasp and immediately apply AI concepts and skills, and build high-performing data science teams. Refactored.ai also offers the critical transitional steps required to seamlessly convert to an AI-powered organization. As a team of passionate data scientists committed to making a social impact, we firmly believe that innovation and technology should bring people together; it should not create larger divides and opportunity gaps. Refactored.ai will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed - regardless of age, race, education, income, or skill level.
Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that advances lasting solutions from tech entrepreneurs to address the world's most pressing problems. Solve issues four Challenges each year to find the most promising Solver class to drive transformational change. Solve then deploys its global community of private, public, and nonprofit leaders to form partnerships these Solver teams need to scale their impact. This year, Solve received more than 1,150 solutions from 110 countries tackling its four Global Challenges: (1) Work of the Future, (2) Frontlines of Health, (3) Coastal Communities, and (4) Teachers & Educators.