Women Coders Star at Business Solutions Hackathon

Women coders featured prominently in the prize-winning teams at the “Business Solutions Hackathon”. The hackathon, which ran from 6pm on Friday 5th September until 6pm on Sunday 7th September, saw 117 of Myanmar’s best young developers, designers and entrepreneurs work almost continuously all weekend to build technology solutions to challenges that had been submitted by six local businesses. The challenges ranged from how to create an easy-to-use accounting app to how to develop a table reservations system for busy restaurants.

On Sunday afternoon each of the 24 teams gave a demonstration to the Judging Panel of the app or website they had built. The Judging Panel was a mix of highly respected Myanmar and international technology business experts. The judges were:

  • Dr Tun Thura Thet – Founder & Chairman, Myanmar Information Technology (MIT)
  • Mon Mon Myint Thu – Managing Director, AcePlus Solutions
  • Hugh Mason – Co-Founder & CEO, JFDI.Asia
  • Gwen Regina Tan – Head of Business Development, Tech in Asia

The standard of work and presentation was extremely high. Hugh Mason, the CEO of Asia’s No. 1 technology business accelerator said:

“I’m really impressed. What I saw this weekend inspires me that the same pattern of growth that I saw in the Singapore tech community could easily be repeated here.”

After a lengthy deliberation, First Prize was awarded to Team “ACE”. Team “ACE” designed a comprehensive solution to the ordering, fulfillment and delivery challenges faced by Fresco. Fresco works with farmers in Shan State to supply many of Yangon’s major hotels and restaurants. It also operates a vegetable and salad home delivery service. This business is booming as customers try to avoid the traffic in Yangon. Cho Cho, one of the owners of Fresco, was thrilled with the outcome. She said:

“I can’t believe what these teams built in 48 hours. Any of these solutions would significantly streamline our business and enable us to serve more customers. To other businesses out there that are trying to figure out how to scale: I’d highly recommend sharing your challenges with these brilliant young technologists.”

Shwe Yee Mya Win, the spokesperson for Team ACE, said:

“We’re honored to win First Prize. The standard of the solutions that everyone built was so high. These hackathons are great events. It’s fantastic to come together as a community, test ourselves with different problems and learn new skills. We can’t wait for the next one.”

First prize was $2000 to share, as well as a SingTech Notepad S7 3G Tablet, a full scholarship to Edulink Australia, an English language-training center, and a copy of the book StartUp Focus for each member of the team.

Second Prize was awarded to Team “Slingshot Pellet”. Their customer service product enables teachers at Edulink Australia, to get better feedback from their students on how they can improve their teaching. They won $1000 to share, as well as a SingTech i20 smartphone and two courses at Edulink Australia for each team member.

Third Prize was awarded to Team “Powerpuffs” which also developed a sophisticated order, fulfillment and delivery system for Fresco. They won $500 to share, as well as a SingTech A33 smartphone and a course at Edulink Australia for each team member.

An additional prize – “Hackers’ Choice” – was awarded based on the votes of the participants. The “Hackers’ Choice” award was given to Team “Potatoes” who built a table reservation system for the popular restaurant Sharky’s. They won $500.

A notable aspect of the hackathon was the number of coders from the winning teams who were women. While other technology communities around the world, including Silicon Valley in the United States, wrestle with the visibility of women, in this Myanmar appears to be setting an example for the rest of the world. Of the teams that came first and third all but two members were women.

The organizer of the hackathon, Code for Change Myanmar Founder and Internews Senior Strategy Advisor, David Madden said:

“This hackathon has again shown the potential for technology to accelerate development in Myanmar. The technology community here has the skills to build the kinds of apps and digital services that will help businesses – and the economy – grow and develop. We hope that more businesses will explore how technology could help them”.

Ooredoo’s spokesperson, Thiri Kyar Nyo, said:

“This event shows what a big difference technology could make to businesses in Myanmar. When all your customers, suppliers and distributors have access to high-speed mobile internet, the potential to use the sort of apps and web technology that we’ve seen at this hackathon to improve your business is enormous”.

The “Business Solutions Hackathon” was possible thanks to the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Internews, Ooredoo Myanmar, Ideabox Myanmar, Singtech, Edulink Australia, Nescafe, RedBull and Xcite Noodles.