Some time ago, we headed up to Jaffna and brought back stories of the Yarl Geek Challenge, hackathon that produced not a few fine ideas and budding entrepreneurs.
At a finale held here in Colombo, the organizers doled out the prizes: first place to a team called the Red Kites (creators of a bus booking system), second place to Spacey (the office space rentals startup) and the third place to Tracklers, who built a product monitoring platform for the agriculture sector and made the Dialog guys very happy by putting their Ideamart API to good use.
But more important than the win is the fact that Red Kites will be funded and mentored by Blue Ocean Ventures, so at the end of the day, it isn’t just a certificate. They’re not the only ones. The Lankan Angel Network also announced that they could be the other two, and also Team Strickers (or is it Strikers), the people who demo’d the electronic voice-control room system that we were so enthralled with; and also TunaLabz, the startup that wants to make a leaner version of Google Apps for local businesses. These teams will undergo a period of mentorship to determine whether they make the cut.
Overall, we’d honestly say it was a hackathon worthy of the name. By contrast, the most of the hackathons we’ve seen – especially the ones held in Colombo – had little to offer compared to the YGC. Perhaps there’s something wrong with the process – perhaps a day at an auditorium isn’t enough, perhaps there’s something wrong with the definition – we’ve seen the name ‘hackathon’ being used to cover sketchy business pitches with no products behind them, save for a Powerpoint presentation.
In that regard, here’s three cheers to the YGC – and the organizers, the Yarl IT Hub – for getting it right.