We had been wanting to do another hackathon for a while now. The Colombo Hackathon last year was evidence that such events are needed and it created the startup culture that is much anticipated by our young entrepreneurs. This time it was initiated by Prajeeth as part of Venture Engine. Sanath, Mafaz and Jeevan were all involved. Myself and Chandika got involved as well in organising and hosting the event. However Jeevan couldn’t make it for the weekend since he was out of town.
It was called the Hikka Hack this time since it was at the exotic Hikkaduwa beaches of Sri Lanka. We managed to get Citrus Leisure onboard and the event accommodated 11 teams at the Citrus Leisure hotel.
Unlike the Colombo Hackathon this time we got only teams to apply (and not individuals) for the event. The teams who applied had to have an idea of what they were going to work on during the weekend and also had to provide sufficient information about themselves when applying. All this had to be formulated since we were able have only 10 teams of each having 3 members due to limitations in accommodating at the hotel. Of course the teams who were selected were able to enjoy the facilities free of charge.
We also had Your Story working with us on selecting one team from India who was sponsored to be part of Hikka Hack.We had 3 applications from India and Burma who directly applied to Hikka Hack as well.
Selecting only 10 teams out of 45 teams was not a walk in the park specially due to most of the applied teams having valid and interesting ideas/products. So we had a selection round on the 29th of May at Orion City. During the selections we did short interviews with the teams to select the 10 teams we were going to take. Understanding a team and their idea/business/product in just 5 mins was surely not the best method to filter them, however we were short on time and the teams had to bring their best pitch if they wanted to be a part of exciting and exotic weekend full of startup energy!
After a full round of interviews and another round of pitching by selected teams we ended up with 10 good teams for Hikka hack. One team that was selected by Your Story from India was also prepped to arrive at Hikka Hack on the weekend.
The Hikka Hack
The event was on the 1st and 2nd June weekend. The teams arrived at Citrus Leisure on 1st of June on a coach that was arranged to take them from Orion City. There began a intense weekend full of energy and awesomeness. I had my doubts as to how many would be actually hacking as opposed to kicking back on the beach sipping martinis. It was great to see all the participants working away engaging with mentors and other teams to give life to their idea. We had many mentors visit over the weekend while some stayed over and had a good time with us. There were talks conducted by the mentors on topics realting to startups. Quite a few teams came on the 1st of June with one thing on their mind and ended up with something completely different by the end of the event. Ideas have to evolve and pivot if necessary to become a great product. I think this is a great lesson all the teams embraced. Another strong attitude that developed was the importance of revenue in a product. Even-though these startups were at their earliest stage, it was great to see how the importance of revenue was taken seriously by most of them.
The pictures of the event can be seen on the Colombo Hackathon facebook page
The weekend was full of hacking and conceptualising to build products that can kick off and get funded. On Sunday evening the final pitches started and each team had 10 mins to pitch to the panel. The energy and the excitement in the room was invigorating. After 2 hours of pitching it was time to decide. The decision was not difficult since the scoring was done on a rigid structure and we used google forms which calculated and sorted the score. So we had the teams in order with scores running extremely close to each other. It was very tight competition. Following is the summary of the first six teams and their products.
- Try b4 Buy – This is a Indian team that built a fully functional mobile application that can visualise 3D models of furniture and home-ware in a room.
- Omni Channel – A talented team which can build entertaining video demos to communicate your idea just in 2 mins.
- Timely – A crowdsourced social app for tracking trains and managing travel time.
- Seedz – A community driven marketplace for gardeners.
- U-Grow Organics – A online organic vegetable store that delivers 100% organic vegetables.
- Lets Eat! – An on the go food ordering site that will save you the waiting time at take-away restaurants.
The first three teams were awarded with prizes that included entry to Venture Engine, Cash prize for the first two teams by Creately and SLASSCOM, Creately licenses for online and desktop products, Office space for 6 months for the 1st team at Orion City and Web hosting packages by ITC Asian Holdings.
All in all it was another great event for the local Startup community and I am truly honoured to have been part of it. Looking forward for many more such events that will create great startups that concur the world.