Staying Up All Night At Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel


Anyone passing Stein Studios on Tuesday would have witnessed a queue that spanned the length of almost two roads. Scores of teenagers carrying bags looking as though they were camping the night. Once inside Stein Studios, all you could see as far as the eye could see was a mass of youth clad in black t-shirts.

What was all this commotion for? This was for Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel. In case you don’t know what Google IO is, we covered that a few days ago.

Once the participants had all taken their seats, it was time to kick off Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel.

We learned about the Fear of Missing Out

The first speaker for Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel was Tony Weerasinghe – Founding CEO and Chairman of Ustocktrade LLC. He asked the audience a simple question: “What is the Fear of Missing Out? Well, put simply, it’s the fear that you would miss out on a golden opportunity if you weren’t paying attention to market trends.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Tony Weerasinge addressing the gathering at Google IO Extended 2018 by Mobitel

Tony spoke about founding Millenium IT and how and why it was acquired by the London Stock Exchange Group in 2009. The acquisition was pure because the London Stock Exchange Group wanted to implement the trading system built by MIT due to its speed. So how fast was it? Well, a trade took around 120 microseconds.

If you want to be an entrepreneur in Sri Lanka, you’re very likely to have an idea, but no money to fund it. From there, you will go behind an angel investor who will ask for 50% of your company. To do away with all that, Tony emphasized that you should first have an idea and then develop it. From there, looking for funding will be easier as you have a minimum viable product

Tony then went to talk about Cryptocurrency. Many people came into the Cryptocurrency market when the price was high, but when it dropped, they lost a lot of money. So the fear of missing out or FOMO can happen if you’re not paying attention.

From there, he spoke about Ustocktrade. He wanted it to be the world’s first alternative trading system for retail investors without the need for a broker. Unlike other platforms, they do not list companies but they trade all listed companies in the US.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Tony Weerasinge continuing his session at Google IO Extended 2018 by Mobitel

Their goal is to democratize the market. If there is money in your hand, Tony said, we can do away with you relying on someone to give you a job. Ustocktrade would be a platform to access the world’s biggest capital market. A trade costs only USD 1. If you have a stock in Ustocktrade, you can sell that stock within the same day, and then use that stock to buy another stock.

Tony spoke about the latest initiatives taken by Ustocktrade such as launching in Sri Lanka to allow people to invest for a better tomorrow. He also spoke about how the company is working building an Alexa for trading as support chatbots as well. Further, each stock you trade goes to charity to underprivileged schoolchildren, who will also be in Sri Lanka.

The rebirth of a classic Sri Lankan character

In case you didn’t know, Gajaman is an original character by Kala Keerthi Camillus Perera, Gajaman first appeared in a Lakehouse comic. Why was this important? Because in an announcement at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel, we found out that Gajaman was coming to the big screen in 3D. This would mark it as Sri Lanka’s first 3D movie developed in Sri Lanka itself.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Gajaman being unveiled at Google IO Extended 2018

A collaboration between Studio 101 and Hypehash, Gajaman is directed by Chanaka Perera. An animation lover from his younger days, Chanaka had the option to work for a movie company or make his own movie. He chose the latter. He then spoke about how he spoke to Camilus Perera about making an animation of Camilus’s beloved character.

The challenge was how to bring characters who were popular in the 1960s to the 80, relevant to the current generation. With help from Camilus, the team came up with a storyboard and a screen play. Using 20 motion capture cameras, they used real actors to capture all motion to render the characters as true to life as possible.

The movie has been in development for the last 7 years. In fact, in the trailer that was shown, the animations and facial renders are quite similar to those seen in international productions. With the release of the film, there will also be a mobile game. Called “Gajaman The Annual Treasure hunt”, the game will comprise of AR and VR. The game would take real world locations as well.

Blockchain and Self Sovereign Identity

Another interesting topic, indeed one covered by us as well, at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel was about Blockchain and how it works. Presented by Chim Himidumage, Founder of Radical Ledger. Chim spoke about the essentials of Blockchain and topics such as hashing as well. This is a simple algorithm. From there, he went to talk about how transactions happen in Blockchain. We too covered these topics a few months ago.

Google IO Extended 2018 by Mobitel
Chim Himidumage talking about Blockchain

Chim’s session also briefly covered the Ethereum Ecosystem for developers where he spoke about technologies such as Solidity, Remix, Truffle, Infura, Web3.js, Faucest, Metamask, and Eterscan. He also spoke about problems with digital identities. Without proper verification, a person’s identity cannot be trusted.

Further, if someone gains access to your profile, the profile info can be misused. As a solution, Chim spoke about self-sovereign identify providers such as uPort that allows you to register your identity on Ethereum.

Narrowband IoT and its journey so far

This was the next topic following a small entertainment break at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel. Presented by Dr. Shamil Appathurai, Senior Manager – Network Strategy and Transformation together and Akalanka De Silva, Assistant Manager – Product Service Innovation at Mobitel. The duo spoke about the technology framework for mobile operators with regards to Narrowband IoT or simply NB-IoT.

Google IO Extended 2018 by Mobitel
Dr. Shamil Appathurai talking about NB IoT

Unlike software, networks have to be physically present to operate. Dr Appathurai explained how Mobitel wants to connect all these devices via NB IoT to cater to low power devices which can be used for monitoring purposes. The advantage of NB-IOT devices is that these devices have outstanding battery life (almost 10 years) and are designed specifically with a higher gain in inaccessible places.

They are also low cost. While not made for high-speed connections, NB-IoT devices would play a big role in the future. In fact, Mobitel’s Inspire platform allows developers to purchase IoT compatible sensors and then plug them into compatible sensors, and you’re good to go.

How the Google Business Group is helping Entrepreneurship

This session as all about getting in with Google Communities, who are indeed a part of Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel. Presented by Sajini Jayawardena and Indulekha Nanayakkara, the session focused on what the Google Business Group does. Sajini, Manager for Google’s Business community spoke about Google’s mission for serving almost 150,000 entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka and indeed the world.

Google IO Extended 2018 by Mobitel
Sajini Jayawardena talking about the Google Business Community

Indulekha Nanayakkara, Co-Manager of GBG Colombo then took the stage for the latter part of the presentation at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel. Indu focused more on female entrepreneurship and digital literacy and leadership. These, she explained are somewhat lacking in Sri Lanka and there is also fall in the female labor force as well. There is a requirement for up-to-date skills.

Google IO Extended 2018 by Mobitel
Indulekha Nanayakkara speaking to the audience about empowerment and entrepreneurship

So, what does being empowered mean? Well, according to Indu, it’s about knowing your strengths and embracing them. At the same time, it’s also about knowing what you want and going for it. Lastly, it’s about breaking down biases and taking risks.

The moment we were all waiting for

This was it. The big one. This was the Google IO 2018 Keynote. Well, actually, it was the live stream of it, but hey, we were just as excited about it as the real thing. Presented by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, the Keynote unveiled all the latest innovations by Google for this year. So what exactly is new? Well, you can watch the video below to find out.

We learned about digital Entrepreneurship

This was presented by Lahiru Pathmalal, CEO, and Co-Founder of He opened by saying “Solve a problem for someone, and you will make money. He went on to explain that Sri Lanka is one of the least urbanized countries in the world. For proof of this, we can see that the population of Sri Lanka is spread out across the country.

Lahiru went on to explain that only around 25% of Sri Lanka’s population has access to social media. He noted that the last regime of the Government fell was because they could not carry out their social media campaigns well.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Lahiru Pathmalal talking about Entrepreneurship at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel

Lahiru emphasized that entrepreneurship is about self-belief. No one is going to believe your idea more than yourself. You only have to win once to be successful. Companies like Nike and AirBnB, for example, would not have been successful if they gave up early.

Another point that Lahiru spoke about was about helping others. Do not be selfish, he continued. Always make time for others. Uber, for example, built up a workway that was about winning at any cost. Because of this, the company now faces a number of challenges.

Life’s joys are rarely things that money can buy. If you really look closely most overnight success took a long time. You need to prepare yourself mentally to launch a startup. Rather than making profits, concentrate of launching a good product. when things get dark, you might think that its bad. But always remember, there are people who are worse off than you. Be happy with what you have.

We learned about the HEX model

This was carried out by Marlin Jayakody – UX Architect at 99X Technology. He started off his presentation at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel by saying that if you cannot pay attention to a person, there’s nothing to worry about. We were just built that way. It’s a human limitation.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Marlin Jayakody speaking about the Human Experience model

So how do we respond to limitations? This is where UX or User Experience comes into play. You must think about three things and do them right. These are user needs, business goals, and technologies. If any of these three are off, you’re going to be in trouble. Marlin also emphasized that UX or User Experience does not equal the User Interface.

For example, while it may not have the best looking UI, Facebook by far has the best UX for social media, according to Marlin. This emotional factor is what we should be focused on. UX is like creating a story for a product. It has characters, what they do, and the goals of each character. You have to empathize with people. You need to identify their goals, pain points, and behaviors.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Marlin Jayakody continuing his session

In order to achieve all this, one needs collaboration. In fact, you could even say that collaboration is the key to ideation. For example, in projects that Marlin is involved in, members of the project are encouraged to show off their designs. This approach, rather than waiting for one’s supervisor to come up with a design, leads to more productive collaboration efforts. From there, the best ideas are picked and developed on.

Marlin then went on to talk about slightly more technical details such as concepts of designing, wireframes and testing components themselves. All in all, once done, your product would not only have a better look but also people using the product would have a better experience as well.

We learned to follow our passion

The next speaker at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel was Sharanyan Sharma, Founder, and Chairman of Extreme SEO Internet Solutions. Sharanyan, an award-winning entrepreneur spoke about what drives him. Not his car, but rather his passion. Passion is a mindset, he exclaimed.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Sharanyan Sharma speaking to the audience about following your passion

He emphasized that you must benchmark yourself now. People focused on their passion will consider all aspects of their projects, whereas someone working for money will just consider delivering the project. In ending his presentation, Sharanyan left us with a few key takeaways.

  • Problems are the rare opportunity to test you.
  • Failure is a precious gift. Not everyone deserves it.
  • Humiliation and tears are the strongest motivators.

Carrying the legacy forward

Following another refreshment break at Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel, we had Prof. Rangika Halwathura from the Department of Civil Engineering from the University of Moratuwa. He spoke about how technology hahas evolved in the modern world.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Prof. Rangika Halwathura addressing the audience

Using examples of ancient civilizations in Sri Lanka, Prof. Halwathura explained that all the archeological and historical advancements that were done in ancient times. He also went on to explain that these very same advancements are being done again. This time bigger and better. This ranges from space travel to agriculture to poultry, and health

The recipe for success for an Entrepreneur

The last speaker for Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel was Dhanika Perera. Dhanika, a serial entrepreneur and Founder of Bhasha, Helakuru, and PayHere spoke about the 3Ps needed for an entrepreneur to succeed.

Kicking off his presentation, Dhanika proudly announced that Helakuru, an English/Sinhala keyboard app had surpassed 4 million downloads. In addition, it also was rated as Sri Lanka’s best app in the Google Play Store, second only to Facebook.

Dhanika then went on to talk about 3Ps. Dhanike recollected his early life from school, where he was the head prefect. He created a software that won him awards in school. From there he went to the University of Moratuwa and started his own blog.

He also got the opportunity to work for SchoolNet on Sinhala questionnaires. From there he worked as a freelance Sinhala Technical Translator. All this went to showcase the first P, which is Passion.

Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel
Dhanika Perera speaking about the 3Ps of Entrepreneurship

That passion is what led him to build up his company. One must identify their passion if they are to become a successful entrepreneur. He had to face his fair share of internal and external discouragements. You will face it too, he said. He gained knowledge by self-studies. This is where the second P comes into play, which is Persistence.

Persistence means believing in yourself. You will face discouragements, but you have to say that whatever happens, you would make this happen. You will face challenges. These can be revenue challenges, market challenges such as competitors and regulatory challenges.

That’s where you need the third P which is Perseverance. Never give up, Dhanika emphasized. He shared a life story of where days after Google released Sinhala voice typing, Dhanika’s team at Helakuru spent 4 consecutive days persevering in a do-or-die situation.

Why? To get the same feature for Helakuru Keyboard as well. Their efforts paid off and Helakuru once more could battle with the best of them. In conclusion, Dhanika ended his presentation with another major announcement. Helakuru Pro features would be available to all Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel subscribers.

And that wrapped up Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel

Staying Up All Night At Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel 3
Image credits: Shanuka Heshan

The hour was fast closing for Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel to come to an end. With Shuhaib Ali coming on stage for a bit of stand-up comedy to refresh ourselves and the winners being announced for a number of games that Mobitel had organized, Google IO Extended 2018 Sri Lanka by Mobitel officially came to an end.


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