Developed by the same company behind InterviewStreet, a site where companies find programmers by hosting “CodeSprints,” the HackerRank service launched last fall at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Co-founder Vivek Ravisankar said the goal is to create a community where hackers can complete programming challenges and see how they stack up against others. Unlike Coursera and Udacity, HackerRank is less focused on teaching you the basics of programming and more on letting coders practice their skills, he said.
For now, Ravisankar said that InterviewStreet is the company’s moneymaker, while at HackerRank he’s just trying to “build the user base and a very sticky platform.” Ultimately, he plans to make money by connecting programmers with companies they want to work for, but he said that will be a purely opt-in system.
As for the upcoming Back to School Challenge, Ravisankar said he has realized that college students, especially those who don’t go to a school in the San Francisco Bay Area, don’t really know much about Silicon Valley. The contest’s main prize is supposed to address that. The top 10 competitors will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley, where HackerRank has organized tours at a number of companies, including Quora, Counsyl, PocketGems, OpenTable, RocketFuel, Weebly, Scribd, Pinterest, and Twitter. There are other prizes — the top prize includes $2,000, a meeting with a partner at Y Combinator, and office hours with the HackerRank founders.
The contest will take place over 24 hours and consist of five challenges, with the first one focused on artificial intelligence. Ravisankar said he’ll be doing outreach at more than 30 schools, including Stanford, Berkeley, and Purdue, but any college student can participate — you just need to have a .edu email address.
Ravisankar said he’s hoping to host these types of Back to School challenges three or four times every year. You can read more and sign up here.