Three days in Jaffna: The Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors

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It’s one of the most iconic hackathons in Sri Lanka. Every year, it sees participants travel north to Jaffna from all corners of the island. This is the flagship event of the Yarl IT Hub, which hopes to make Jaffna the next Silicon Valley. This is what we found over the course of three days at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6.

Day 01

The first day of the Yarl Geek Challenge Seniors Season 6 kicked off with the participating teams sharing 1their ideas with everyone. After sharing their ideas, it was time for them to select mentors. Following lunch, the teams began working on their ideas.

But in parallel there were two other sessions happening in parallel as they worked on their ideas. The first was a one-on-one session with the business mentors. During this session the teams discussed their ideas to the business mentors and then got some initial feedback on how the idea could be tweaked to create a sustainable startup.

The teams hacking on Day 01 of the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
The teams hacking on Day 01 of the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

Meanwhile, the second session that occurred while the teams worked on their ideas was conducted by Jay Cousins. He too did a one-on-one session with each time to introduce disruptive thinking to them. These sessions, which began following lunch went on throughout the day into the evening.

Towards 5:30 PM, as the rain fiercely poured down Jaffna, the teams began packing up having gotten a clear idea on what they’ll be doing on Day 02 to build their ideas. Afterwards, the teams packed up and went their separate ways to get some rest to prepare for Day 02.

Day 02

On the very next day, the heavy rains that greeted us when we arrived in Jaffna had stopped. As the clock read 08:30 AM, we saw the teams arrive and take their seats. An hour later, it was time for the mock pitches. During these mock pitches, the teams pitched their ideas to a team of mentors. The mentors then acted as judges before giving their feedback on how the teams could improve their pitches.

One of the mock pitches at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
One of the mock pitches

Later towards the afternoon, as the teams hacked on their ideas the graduation for Uki. In case you’re lost, Uki is the coding school that Yarl IT Hub co-founded with The Serve Foundation. With the conclusion of the graduation ceremony, Day 02 of the Yarl Geek Challenge came to an end.

Day 03

The third day was what was described as D-Day. This was the day when the teams had to pitch to a panel of judges. But only a few would progress to the grand finale in Colombo.

Autofix

The first idea we saw pitched at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 7 was AutoFix. This is an app that helps you find spare parts when you want to repair your vehicle. All you have to do is select the brand of your car and then the exact model. Afterwards, you can select the part you need and vendors from a list to contact. In case you can’t find the part you want listed, you can then take a picture and vendors can respond with offers to you.

Team AutoFix pitching at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
AutoFix being pitched at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

JustPost

The second idea we saw was JustPost. This is a web app that allows you to send customized post cards and greeting cards to people. Similar to Canva, you can design you card/postcard with predesigned templates. Afterwards, you can have it delivered to a person. But the team isn’t merely looking at gifts. They’re also aiming for it to become a powerful marketing tool.

Team Just Post at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Just Post being pitched

Ads Play

This is an advertising platform. An advertising platform that utilizes gamification. During their demo we saw a racing game with Lanka IoC logos plastered all over the course. Advertisers can utilize the platform to create their own games for ads. The team shared that moving forward they’ll be partnering with different brands to give prizes to visitors. Later, they hope to make the platform open-source and allow others to make games as well.

TrustCoin

TrustCoin is an app aimed at making your life more spiritual. How? By allowing you to make donations to temples and other religious institutions, which are located far away. In exchange, TrustCoin would take a 5% commission on every transaction over Rs. 100. The team hopes to register 100 religious institutions within 6 months and is seeking Rs. 2 million from investors.

Trust Coin at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Trust Coin at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

Eco water

Kidney diseases. This is a problem that affects 60% of the Sri Lankan population. One of the key causes of kidney diseases is due to a lack of clean water. This team at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors wants to take a step towards fixing this problem. This is where their device eco water comes into the picture. It analyses water sources and then checks if it’s clean or impure. The team aims to not only offer this device to people at risk to kidney diseases but also government agencies and NGO’s that’ll help improve access to clean water.

VoiceIT

VoiceIT aims to give a voice to those without one. This is a device that aims to help paralyzed patients communicate. To do so, it employs a pair of smart glasses. These glasses allow the paralyzed patients to communicate by merely blinking. The mobile app that works in unison with it would help others understand what the paralyzed person is saying. The one man team behind this device aims to promote this though partnerships with pharmacies and doctors. And besides, direct selling, VoiceIT would also be licensed out in exchange for royalties.

Three days in Jaffna: The Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors 17
VoiceIT being pitched

Team Brogrammers

This team pitched a device that you can attach to your main electricity line. Once attached, it allows you to measure your energy usage and view it on your phone. If you feel its too high then you can turn off any appliance directly with the app.  The team aims to sell it directly and through ecommerce websites. Prior to this, the team aims to conduct a few pilot projects with hotels. The team plans to price the device at two tiers with businesses paying a premium for additional features such as predictive analytics.

Team Brogrammers at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Team Brogrammers on stage

Cache Park

Finding parking can be a challenge at times. Cache Park is an app we found at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors that aims to change this. Cache Park is an on-demand app that helps drivers find parking spaces. It does so by allowing you and others with free space like your garage to offer it as a parking space.  Cache Park serves as the middleman that takes 10% from whenever you offer a parking space. The judges had doubts regarding the security aspect of opening up their garages. The team responded by saying that they also offer an IoT device that tracks the vehicles that enter a particular parking space. It also records the details of vehicles including those of the owner.

Cache Park at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Cache Park demo being shown to the judges

HireUP

HireUP is a website with the goal of helping freelancers find work. And by freelancers we don’t mean merely those working in the IT industry. The website would list everyone from photographers to coders to wedding cake decorators. All a freelancer has to do is list an advertisement with their location. Then when you search for specific workers, you’ll find the ones located nearby. \

Smart Gard

Taking care of a plant or any living creature can be a challenging task. Thus, this team at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors built Smart Gard. This is device that assists people in maintaining their plants. With their prototype, we saw plant being connected to a box with a multitude of sensors measuring different factors about the plant. You can view these readings via a mobile app and to get the device you’ll have to pay Rs. 949 per plant.

Smart Gard at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Smart Gard being pitched at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

OnTrac

This is an on-demand courier service. Similar to PickMe and Uber, you can mark your location and a courier would arrive to collect your packages. Meanwhile, a courier would also have an app where they would receive your location. Once the courier collects your package, they’ll get the route to deliver the package to its destination. The prices for deliveries range from Rs. 70 to over Rs. 270 and the couriers get a 10% commission for each delivery they make.

Cerberus

No, this isn’t a three headed dog but it is a system that guards the entrance to your house. Cerberus is a smart CCTV solution. Its cameras utilize image recognition to identify people and specific objects. And it doesn’t need an array of monitors. Rather, whenever the system detects anything you’ll get a notification through the mobile app. Currently, the team is planning on selling this system to homes, banks, and shops. It’s sold with two tiers. The first tier being the basic product, which gives you the cameras and the feature to save videos onto your phone. The second tier is the premium one that allows you to save videos to the cloud.

SaveMe

When you’re in trouble, this app hopes to be your savior. SaveMe is an app that works on both USSD and Android. If you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, the app takes your location. It then gives you the contact details for nearby police stations and hospitals. The team plans to offer the service free for the first year. Afterwards, the team plans to charge a subscription fee from its USSD users and display advertisements on the Android app.

Tech Overflow

Ideas are cheap. At the end of the day, what matters is the execution of the idea. Tech Overflow is a website where you can post a video of your startup idea. Afterwards, anyone that views this video can choose to be an investor or a developer to help make it a reality. The judges liked the idea but were concerned as to how the team would ensure that quality is maintained amongst the ideas they feature.

 

Team Paradox

This team at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors, pitched an Android app. This app would alert garbage collectors to come and collect your trash. It would do so with the help of an IOT device attached to your trash can. The device measures the weight of your trash can and once full it sends an alert to the trash collectors. Meanwhile, administrators have a separate web app that offers analytics and also receive alerts when trash cans are full.

Team Paradox at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Team Paradox at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

Futura MyCare

This is an app that helps you find hospitals and it goes a bit beyond Google Maps when it does. The app identifies hospitals based on the distance, affordability, and facilities. Once you’ve identified a hospital, you can contact it and find more detailed information about it. Additionally, Futura also helps hospitals find your information faster through your NIC.

SecPack

SecPack is an on-demand application for storing your luggage while travelling at another person’s house. SecPack would take a 25% commission whenever a person chooses to store the luggage of a traveller. During the demo we saw you can enter a location and get a list of places you can store your luggage. Once you’ve selected a location, then you can get details of the location. Furthermore, you can also obtain other additional services offers by the hosts like coffee or tea if they offer it.

HeartFelt

This is a platform that wants to help charities achieve their goals. HeartFelt does so by allowing the community to list their issues on the platform. The charities can then identify these problems and plan projects to solve them. Finally, normal visitors can then contribute to these projects in the form of crowdfunding. In exchange, the team would take a 3% commission from each project and charge a subscription from the charities as well.

HeartFelt at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Questions about HeartFelt being answered

EzCatch

This is an app that shows you how to use public transport to get to a location. This was also one of the vaguest pitches we saw at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6. The team didn’t have a demo to showcase their app nor were they clear on how they earn money.

Team Slifix

This team wants to improve the quality of air indoors. To do so, they’re looking at plants and are offering a solution to help you keep those plants alive.  This a plastic box with an array of sensors where you can put the plant inside. The sensors then measure various factors to help you keep the plant alive. The team is currently planning on selling this device on a subscription basis.

Team Slifix's product at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
Team Slifix’s product at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

One Click Attendance

This is an Android based attendance system that’s aimed at schools. It utilizes the power of image recognition to mark attendance by using a picture the teacher takes of the students in a class. The app then identifies the students and marks them as present or absent. However, the teacher has to first  add images of the students into the database.

One Click Attendance being pitched at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
One Click Attendance being pitched at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

Optoscan

Optoscan is an app that allows you get more details about products while shopping. It does this by utilizing flashing LED lights. These lights communicate data, which your phone will understand when you point your camera at the light to obtain more details about the product. According to the team, it currently costs Rs. 1150.

Optoscan being demo'd to the judges at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
A demo of Optoscan being shown to the judges

SBox

The final idea we saw at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors, was a container to store your luggage while travelling. To use the containers, you’d first have to sign up with the SBox app. Afterwards you’d get a code, which you can enter to put your luggage inside. The team aims to install these containers at popular locations such as train stations and bus stations.

SBox being pitched at demo'd at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
SBox being pitched

The finalists of the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

There you have it folks. These are the ideas we found at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6. Some of them great and some of them could use a little bit of work. Ultimately, only the best will proceed to the Grand Finale. And this year, for the first time in the six year history of the competition, eleven teams will be moving forward to the Grand Finale. So the teams you’ll see at the Grand Finale are:

  1. Team Pastam
  2. Team Bloowhale
  3. Team Codemare
  4. Team Siffix
  5. Team JDKMasters
  6. The Vile
  7. Team AxisX
  8. Team AutoFix
  9. Team CodeLite
  10. Team Paradox
  11. Team Atom
The finalists of the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6
The finalists of the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6

With the results announced, the festivities came to an end and we marked our calendars as we began the trip back to Colombo. The Grand Finale of the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 Seniors will take place on the 18th of November 2017 at the Dialog Auditorium. We wish the teams the best of luck and look forward to seeing their refined products and final pitches.