My Beginning and Beyond at Topcoder

By in Community Stories July 11, 2019

Hi, I’m Adam. I hail from the “Pearl of the Orient Sea”, the Philippines. The only country in which you’ll find the first ever winner of the first ever Topcoder design challenge (kristofferrouge), a TCO Design Champion (oninkxronda), the Flash designer with superior quality (gh3ablo), and a very skillful copilot (quesks). Adding myself to the roster of new breed of Filipino Topcoders (together with tototpc, a multi-TCO finalist), here’s where it all began (if you haven’t noticed, I just shared with you some trivia, hence my Topcoder handle).

Being part of a data science team, I wanted to enhance my noob skills while at the same time earn some extra cash. I wondered if there were any online platforms that offer problems or challenges to solve and give cash prizes as a reward to anyone who can give the right solution. And so my quest started with Google search. I changed my search queries from data science challenges (didn’t pursue because of very tough problems) to coding challenges (I remembered I’m not adept with programming anymore, except python and SQL) to data visualization challenges (current field of interest). Of all my search queries, one common result caught my attention, a crowdsourcing platform called Topcoder (it was my first time hearing of it).

Exploring the list of challenges, I found one challenge that was perfect for my skills and field of interest, and that was Spotfire Dashboard Development. After reading the specs, I immediately signed up and registered for that challenge. I had no experience with the required software for that challenge but I knew it required analytical thinking and creative design solution. 

With no guarantee of winning that challenge and just trusting my skills, I really exerted effort to provide the right solution that I thought the client would love. Take note, I hadn’t yet explored the whole Topcoder website including the FAQ and general rules and guidelines so I was not aware if what I was doing was against any strict rules. Nevertheless, I finished my submission along with some documentation. While waiting for the review phase to end, I took advantage of absorbing all the information I had to learn to compete in Topcoder. 

Fast forward to the appeals phase; I became more confident that I could win this challenge because the copilot and the client had positive comments towards my submission. And then the verdict day came. Upon checking my email, I noticed an email from Topcoder stating that I got a place in a challenge. And I was so happy because I got first place. To validate the email, I quickly checked the challenge page and boom! My Topcoder handle was there, at first place! To validate the email, I quickly checked the challenge page and boom! My Topcoder handle was there, at first place!

I was so happy that during the first week of being a Topcoder member I got to experience winning in a challenge. It was the first time ever in my life that I earned such amount of money online in just one go! I was so energized that my goal since then has been to place at least once a month in any of the challenges in any categories!

In my third month, another opportunity came in when a veteran topcoder/copilot offered me a private task for a data visualization. I didn’t see it coming and it was purely a blessing. Communication was made through Slack. And speaking of Slack, around the last week of February 2019, I met gh3ablo, my fellow Filipino. I was so shocked because I thought there were no active Filipinos in the Topcoder Slack Community. Even more shocking was that he’s been into Topcoder for almost a decade already! He became my source of knowledge for everything Topcoder, including my go-to person for UI/UX design! He’s really a good friend of mine.

Six months after I registered in November 2018, after winning my first ever challenge participation, bragging 2nd and 3rd places, winning some checkpoints, several private tasks, and even back-to-back winning of related challenges, I’m very sure…there’s no turning back.

Topcoder is not only a crowdsourcing platform to earn some good prize money, it’s a place where you’ll feel belongingness. More than a community, it’s a family that brings out the best in you.

Meetup with fellow Topcoders for the first time ever last June 2019. From left to right: mahestro, Ravijune, oninkxronda, gh3ablo, PereViki, trivia79
“Til we meet again fellow Topcoders!”. Left to right: Ravijune, PereViki, mahestro, tototpc, tototpc’s friend, oninkxronda, gh3ablo, trivia79