YouthHack originated in the Philippines and since then it has managed to host events such as ‘Startup Challenges’, ‘Code Weekends’ and ‘Skills Boot Camps’ to educate high-school and university students about startups, technology and entrepreneurship. They hosted a Startup Challenge on the 6th and 7th of August at the MAS Innovation Center. The event was complete with panel discussions, talks by industry experts and entrepreneurs, workshops, and idea hacking sessions. It was definitely an exciting event to participate for students and entrepreneurs alike. There was an overwhelming presence on the day which filled up the MAS Innovation Center with lots of passionate students who were keen to gather knowledge on the topics of startups, technology and entrepreneurship.
After the attendees finished registration, Sanjula from YouthHack Sri Lanka explained what the organization is all about and what it aims to do in order to provide knowledge on what startups are all about, how technology helps innovate and to what entrepreneurship skills you require to possess. It all started two years ago in 2014 where their goal was to empower youth in the Philippines. The Sri Lankan chapter consists of a team of young leaders who join hands to help the youth here to grow.
The panel discussion was up next where the attendees asked questions from the panel regarding their personal startup journeys, ideas and experience. The panel consisted of Dulith Herath (Founder / CEO of Kapruka), Madu Ratnayake (Executive VP, CIO / Head of Business Excellence & General Manager at Virtusa Polaris) and Jeevan Gnanam (Director / CEO of SAIG and Orion City). The three of them answered many problems raised by the attendees and didn’t fail to add their own experiences when providing answers.
The initial workshops for the day started off with Kanishka Weeramunda(Founder of PayMedia) delivering a talk about the Lean Startup Model. Meanwhile Chandika Jayasundara (Co-Founder & CEO at Cinergix / Creately) together with Hiraash Thawfeek (Co-Founder and CTO at Creately) provided the audience insight on thinking global. Mahen Ratnayake (Co-founder & Chief Executive at Katha) shared how to make a great pitch and why it was so important for the young entrepreneurs gathered at the event.
The next set of workshops kicked off with Mike Soertsz (Co-Founder / CEO @ Foodie.lk) speaking of bootstrapping. Ideation was the topic Sheran Corera (Co-Founder and Chief Architect at LayUp) shared with everyone gathered while Udara Jayawardena (CEO of tidl.es) spoke of the importance of UX. Even the folks over at AIESEC came over to explain the social impact of startups.
All-in-all this was an amazing opportunity for young entrepreneurs to be a part of such an amazing event to help spread knowledge and understanding from not only industry experts but also from other entrepreneurs who have achieved their own form of success. YouthHack Sri Lanka’s Startup Challenge without any doubt aided many attendees to gain first hand exposure to information which they would not be able to receive in any other manner from elsewhere. The event also helped for everyone to network with each other in order to share their ideas and experiences with one another.