Women coders featured prominently in the prize-winning teams at the recent “Business Solutions Hackathon”.
The 48-hour event, which was organised by Code for Change Myanmar, saw 117 of Myanmar’s 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.
Each of the 24 participating teams gave a demonstration to the judging panel of the app or website they had built. The panel was a mix of Myanmar and international technology business experts such as Dr Tun Thura Thet, founder and chairman, Myanmar Information Technology (MIT), Mon Mon Myint Thu, managing director, AcePlus Solutions, Hugh Mason, co-founder and CEO, JFDI.Asia, and Gwen Regina Tan, head of business development, Tech in Asia.
Mason 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.”
The first prize was awarded to “Team ACE”, who designed a solution to the ordering, fulfilment 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, 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: “The standard of the solutions that everyone built was so high. … 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.”
The first prize was $2,000 to share, as well as a SingTechNotepad S7 3G Tablet, a full scholarship to Edulink Australia, an English language-training centre 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 $1,000 to share, as well as aSingTechi20 smartphone and two courses at Edulink Australia for each team member.
Third prize was awarded to Team “Powerpuffs” which also developed a sophisticated order, fulfilment and delivery system for Fresco. They won $500 to share, as well as a SingTechA33 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 Yangon restaurant Sharky’s. They won $500.
Organisers said 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, Myanmar appears to be setting an example for the rest of the world, the organiser of the hackathon, Code for Change Myanmar, said in a statement. Of the teams that came first and third all but two members were women.
Code for Change Myanmar Founder and Internews Senior Strategy Advisor, David Madden, said: “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.”