They call it the world’s largest hackathon. On 14th and 15th of July 2018, it came to Sri Lanka. Held inside the Dialog Auditorium, we saw AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018. Organized with the support of Dialog Ideamart, the local participants spent 48 hours bringing their ideas to life. What exactly were these ideas? Here’s your answer.
If you want to know how to make hackathons effective, click here to the latest episode of our podcast with Ratish Narayanan – Regional Manager South Asia at AngelHack.
The first team at AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018, opened their pitch by saying, “Farmers decide what to grow next based on their past experiences.” But the crops that were profitable last year, may not be profitable this year. As such, this team wants to help farmers avoid this issue through machine learning.
This would be in the form of a bot that would be multilingual. Not only would it help farmers decide what crops to grow, it would also identify diseases. These diseases could be identified by simply taking a picture. However, as Sri Lankan data is tough to find or outdated, they built their prototype taking data from the US.
The second team we saw aimed to tackle corruption with tender processes. They aimed to do so with their platform Smart Trade that (you guessed it) utilizes blockchain to create smart contracts. We learned that it would work on a subscription model for the first six months being free. However, they would charge a small fee to publish the initial tender and to make the initial bid.
The next team we saw at AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018, aimed to build an app to enhance the travel experience of tourists. They aim to do this by being the tour guide, which is similar to Google Trips. In its current form, the app shares landmarks and allows you to create travel plans. Later on, the team said they hope to integrate taxi apps and more advanced features.
The fourth team we saw had built a mobile app for events. The purpose of this app was to send invitations and get responses for events. These invitations would be sent via text messages. That’s it. The team shared that they’d make money by charging corporates to send text messages. During the Q&A session, the judges stated that they had some confusion as to the exact problem the team was aiming to solve.
This was a team that had much experience in wedding planning as their name suggested. They shared that couples spend a lot of time planning their dream wedding. They’ll spend hours saving images on Google Search and Pinterest. Yet, when they go wedding planners it’s a challenge to make those images a reality. That’s why this team had built an app that helps bridge the gap between dream weddings and finding the right planner.
The sixth team we saw aimed to tackle the problem of mental illness. They aimed to do so by building an app. This app would allow you to log your day and write stories. Despite their noble aim, we weren’t exactly how this approach would help people maintain their mental health during their pitch.
Once again, we saw another team utilizing blockchain at AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018. This team offered QR based cheques powered by blockchain. They were offering these cheques on a subscription model with cheque books themselves sold separately. During the Q&A session, the judges questioned the team as to whether they had studied about the regulations around cheques. The judges also asked why the team utilized cheques rather than online transfers.
Immediately afterward, we saw yet another team utilizing blockchain. This team offered an online lending platform powered by blockchain. It aims to connect money lenders with owners of small businesses. This would be with less paperwork and lower interest rates. However, during the Q&A session, the judges asked the team as to how they’d be a better platform than banks and how they would prevent black money from entering their system.
The next team we saw didn’t utilize blockchain. Rather, they had built a chat app where people could express their opinions. However, they stated that people prefer to share their opinions anonymously. But the anonymity on this app would have to be earned. However, the team didn’t exactly specify how that could be done. During the Q&A session, the judges pointed out that they have to conquer a chicken and egg problem when obtaining users.
An AR platform that helps businesses conduct advertising campaigns. This is what the tenth team at AngleHack Sri Lanka 2018 had built. It worked by having users scan AR tokens to engage with campaigns conducted by advertisers. In exchange, the users would obtain rewards offered by advertisers. They’re primarily aiming to utilize these tokens at events and operate on a subscription basis for advertisers.
Once again, we saw another team offering a solution powered by blockchain. This time it was an event management system. Nestchain aims to help event organizers find the suppliers they need to host a successful event. In exchange, the team would take a 5% commission from vendors for each transaction. Additionally, they would also charge a monthly subscription from vendors and event managers.
The next team we saw had also aimed to build an app that was a salad of things. It was a social network that focused on videos, helped you find a job, and offered lessons in virtual classrooms. Most importantly, it was a platform to push ads. During the Q&A session, the judges pointed out that the team had emphasized on view counts for ads. But what matters with advertisements is not view counts but the amount of business made in return.
Once again, we saw another team that built something for event organizers. This was a website that aimed to help event organizers find sponsors. During their pitch, we weren’t exactly clear as to how they’d make money. Additionally, the judges pointed out that the challenge sponsors have today with events is identifying the direct return for the sponsorship they pay.
Machine learning as a service. This was what Team Inly offered at AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018. Rather than spending time configuring existing solutions, their solutions would simply allow you to enter data, and then identify what you want utilizing machine learning. While the judges liked the idea, they were somewhat confused about how it specifically worked.
Afterward, we saw a team that aimed to tackle the deadly problem of road accidents. They aimed to do so by using a device they had built. This device had a variety of sensors and features. These ranged from sensors to measure blood alcohol levels to GPS tracking to alarms that go off if you fall asleep. The team shared that the device itself can be built for $40.
The final team at AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018 wanted to make advertisements in mobile games better. To do so, they aimed to integrate advertisements into the games themselves. This they aimed to do by offering an API to developers. A bold idea indeed and if done right would make advertisements more welcome in games. However, we think it might take more than a simple API to pull it off.
Once the pitches had ended, the judges retreated to debate amongst themselves. When they returned, it was time to announce the winners. But prior to this, the judges shared some of their thoughts with the participants.
And the first judge to do so as Thilak Piyadigama – Chief Operating Officer of Nations Trust Bank Thilak shared that some of the business cases were weak with participants having focused too much on technology. Rather what they should’ve done was first identify a problem that needed to be solved. Once identified a solution would be built for it utilizing technology as a tool.
Heminda Jayaweera – cofounder of Venture Frontier Lanka while commending the teams for their efforts also felt their businesses cases could’ve been stronger. Afterward, Dr. Rainer Deutschmann, Group Chief Operating Officer – Dialog Axiata shared his thoughts. He explained that the B2C model many teams adopted is a tough one.
This is due to the high cost of obtaining customers. As such, he encouraged the teams to explore B2B opportunities for their ideas. Finally, we saw Fathhi Mohamed, Co-Founder – PickMe & Yoho Bed saying, “Don’t build everything at once. Build the most important thing first. Then the market will tell you what to build next.”
Now it was time for the big moment. Who would be the winner of AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018? Who would represent Sri Lanka and join this year’s HACKcelerator? After much suspense, we learned the answer to that question. The winner of AngelHack Sri Lanka 2018 was Team Wedding Makers House!
The next item on their agenda is the AngelHack HACKcelerator. This is a 12-week program that would connect them with mentors who’d help refine their startup idea. Hopefully, at the end of the program, we’ll see them represent Sri Lanka at the AngeHack Global Demo Day in San Francisco.
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