Tag - Events

Planning on organizing a hackathon? Here are some essentials

It’s great to see many hackathons are being organized all across Sri Lanka, and thought it’s a good time to write a simple guide to explain the essentials of a hackathon before organizing one.

I’ve been involved in organizing 5 hackathons and currently progressing to organize a global hack. “Scrumagize” was my very first hackathon to organize back in 2012 where it was a 12 hour hack organized for NIBM students.


Hackathon? WTH?

Hackathons are happening all across the world and some firms conduct it as a business. If you have never heard what a hackathon is, simply it’s an event which brings down developers / tech evangelists / hardware folks together and create a product / a software / a mobile app or some cool gadget within 12 / 14 / 16 / 18 / 24 / 36 / 48 / 72 hours at a stretch (There are hacks which does not adhere ‘at a stretch’ criteria). End of the hack, teams will present their ideas to a set of judges or investors and get a prize, money / some cool tech gadget or get funded. Teams who do not become the winner, would end up getting a recommendation letter / certificate of appreciation. It is always a good habit to update your linkedin profile mentioning that you participated or won in hackathons.

There are different versions of hackathons. Make-a-thon is one of those where it essentially focus on a hardware component as well.

Best part of every hackathon is the free food, fun activities + probably redbull coming on board as the beverage partner + the redbull wing team 😉 This is true for every hackathon across the globe.

Conducting a hackathon boils down to the organizers end goals. Before starting off organizing a hackathon, do have max of 1-5 objectives.


Image Credits : Charith De Silva

Hackathon Matrix v1.0

Hackathon matrix is a collection of basic elements of a complete hackathon. Human needs and expectations are evolving every single day and that’s why it’s v1.0.


The blocks which has yellow highlighted texts are the basic elements of pre-hackathon. The blocks with green texts  are the post-hackathon elements.

Let’s quickly run through each element.

Date, Time and Venue 

First thing, identify the target audience. Eg – Global, All Island, university, school…etc. This is important to identify the date. Because if the hackathon is during exams or a festival season, the number of responses you get will go down rapidly. Also it’s a good practice to allocate the days during weekends (Eg – Starts on Friday eve and will end in Sunday morning max). Simultaneously look for a venue which is available on proposed dates plus should be within your budgets if it’s not free. Time can range from a 12 hour hack to a 72 hour hack.

Selecting date, time and venue are mutually exclusive parameters. You might find a hard time coming to a conclusion so do it at least 2 months before the hackathon.


A super important element. Do create a resources list and see what you will get for free, where do you have to buy stuff / rent and how much you have / you will be able to raise. Sometimes you might get a chance to sell the goods you bought or rent it for another event.

Organizing Team 

Having a great team whom can be accountable and whom can take responsibilities seriously and who have ability to accomplish them on time is crucial. Create a work breakdown and delegate the work among team members, setup a deadline and follow-up. If you come across a situation where you will have to do their work, that means there is a skills gap in your team or a problem in your work breakdown.

Hackathon Topic 

There are hackathons with topics and without topics (TechCrunch Disrupt). It’s up to you to decide if you want to have a topic or not. Both types has its pros and cons.


Marketing or  we can rephrase it as “Taking the word out” so the people will apply to the hackathon. This needs to happen at least 2 weeks prior to the ideas selection date. Dont worry if you have a lower number of submissions. Just increase/ change the methods of marketing + we developers love to apply at 11:59 P.M.

Have the marketing materials, media partnerships, proof read of write ups…etc is pretty important. If you are a Sri Lankan, you can invite ReadMe or TechWire to become your official digital media partner so they shall cover live blogging to event pictures to articles. ReadMe boys are doing a great job in this part of the world. No matter if its Jaffna or down south, they will do an complete neat job.

Publish the hackathon in websites such as  hackerleague , hackathonwatch and tag @hackathonwatch in twitter so you can give a global awareness for your hackathon. It is good if you can live stream the event, but this needs to be only the most important parts of the hackathon because no one wants to watch a bunch people coding overnight. If its in Sri Lanka you can invite LearnTV. They will cover and live stream for free (T&C Apply).

Pick a official photographer. This is good for your future hackathons.


There are firms willing to sponsor hackathon events. Make sure you reach out to them before their budgets are over. Usually budgets are over in final quarter (Oct – Dec). Do keep in mind to give sponsors promised publicity.


Two types of setup. One is you need to setup a place to submit ideas. You can setup a new website or use a web application similar to where visibility of submitted ideas can be controlled.

Hackathon can be physically attended or virtual. The second type of setup is this. If it’s physically attended you need to make sure proper seating arrangements, fun activity areas, tables, power cables, internet connectivity, ventilation, food arrangements, clean venue, washrooms…etc is arranged.

If it’s a virtual hackathon you dont need to worry about the physical infra and what you need to worry is how the teams are connected, how you are going to check their progress (Eg – Using Github commits) , final presentations, code reviews, judging…etc.

Rules and Regulations 

Setting up some rules and regulations is important. It again depends on the type of your hackathon. Eg – All the code needs to be done at the event, code review at the end of the event, need to bring deodorant and tooth brushes…etc.

Ideas Selection

Filtering the ideas and getting the best ideas to come and hack would truly save you some money, time, energy and you can potentially focus on a few teams rather than a larger number, which is effective. Having teams from 10 – 15 would be ideal. But again this depends on your end motive of the hackathon.


You need to make it unlimited and easily accessible. Famous Sri Lankan meals are Kottu, hoppers or pizza.


It either can be a cash prize, cool gadget or funding.

Dialog Ideamart hackathon gave 100k, 75k and 50k cash prize, WSO2 hackathon gave 4 go pro + vouchers to a hotel while Yarl Geek Challenge 3 gave funding for the winner in collaboration with Blue Ocean Ventures in 2014.

Judges, Mentors and Investors

Contact and invite these parties at least 3 weeks prior to the event. Mentors are optional but according to my opinion, having business and tech mentors would sharpen the idea more. If your hackathon ends up by an investor pitching, you need to invite some angel investors. If it’s in Sri Lanka, contact Lankan Angel Network or Blue Ocean Ventures. These investors are pretty much helpful.


Get feedback from every single party who was involved in the whole process.

Thank You

Thank everyone who helped by any means, send them some pictures of the hackathon. Honest appreciation can make a difference and its an emotional hook.


Conducting a retrospect meeting and analyzing the feedback would allow you to identify what you did best, what needs to be improved and how you can improve the next hackathon. Its because near perfection comes from iterations and acting upon filtered useful feedback.

Final Remarks 

Hackathons are types of events which could leapfrog the current skills of both organizers and participants. The end result depends on the motives of the organizers. There can be tangible outcomes or not. Most hackathons around the world end up with the winners getting funded by investors for their start ups. According to my point of view, hackathons needs to be introduced to the university / school curriculum as well as for every company IT division. This is because a hackathon is a tool to improve skills and knowledge, create awareness, be a team building exercise, be a sporting event and  be an event which can potentially improve company products.

Please provide your feedback/ comments/ thoughts/ experience sharing or suggestions about organizing a hackathon.

All the green lights are on for you to organize your next hackathon. Good Luck

Idea Bash – June 2014 Meetup

Idea Mart has been grown into a popular telco platform, giving the local developer community the reach to access the 8 million subscriber base of Dialog Axiata. Started in 2012, this developer community has grown over the years, with many developers successfully monetizing their apps hosted on the Idea Mart platform.

A couple of weeks back, Idea Bash the meetup where the Idea Mart community gets together was held at the Dialog Future world for the 3rd time. This meetup aims to creates an environment where developers can discuss their ideas and issues while also learning on the new developments on the Platform.

IdeaBash 2014

Roshanth, Manager of the Idea Mart community kicked off the event by welcoming the guests and provided an intro to the IdeaMart Platform and what it has achieved.  He shared the various highlighting the growth in usage as well as growth in earnings by the developers.

The next speech was delivered by Ruwan Liyanage, an Idea Mart Developer and Founder of Extrogene. He explained his experience in creating a telco app in the standard process, and that it is much faster to launch apps with Idea Mart. He went on to discuss the main pitfalls in creating apps and gave the following tips to successfully creating a revenue generating app.

1) Identify the most reachable niche market for you

2) List what are the problems they have

3) Remove what you cannot solve

4) Select the most practical problem that you can solve using a mobile app

5) Ask from a sample of your market  whether they will use the app if you give such a mobile solution

Dr. Kavan Ranathunga then took the stage to deliver a very informative presentation on the Evolution of the Internet. He highlighted the key milestones of the internet and also key milestones of the adoption of the internet in Sri Lanka.

IdeaBash 2014

Afterwards another Idemart developer Sheddrick Rodrigo shared his experiences. He gave details on how he spent close to Rs. 90,000 on popular paper advertisements with not much success, while getting good conversion by posting a low cost ad on a targeted newspaper. This emphasized the importance of target marketing. He also advised developers to keep growing by adding one app at a time. He concluded with a good quote : “Dream Big, Start Small, Act Now”

Dream Big, Start Small, Act Now

A very bubbly Lakshetha ( A Google Student Ambassador) conducted a very entertaining session on tips to give a good presentation. The summary of the tips are given below.

  1. Connect to the Audience – by researching on the audience and topic
  2. Let go of Fear – Identify your fear and learn to disregard it
  3. Practice – Have a thorough practice beforehand
  4. Record & Watch – Record yourself on video and see how you present
  5. Listen – Listen to the feedback from the audience.
  6. Be Honest – Don’t present incorrect information
  7. Attire – Dress accordingly to the event/presentation
  8. Presentation – Dont have a heavy presentation, have a light presentation
  9. Have Faith – Believe in yourself


The next presentation “Product as an API” was presented by Sumedha Rupasingha Director of APIs – WSO2. He explained how companies are making money by exposing their core business through APIs. He took Amazon, Expedia and Netflix as examples, showed their API usage and how they have leveraged their APIs. He went on to show the importance of identifying business opportunities in exposing your companies APIs.


The final session of Ideabash was an interesting interactive session called Idea Crunch where teams were give a description of a person and were requested to design an app using Ideamart apps to cater his needs. The description of the person given was Gunapala, an antisocial salesperson with a fish tank and a cat. Teams presented their very creative ideas from fully automating his house, to a dating app, to a house maid finder. An external judging panel reviewed the ideas and judged the ‘Gedera’ team the winner of the session.

IdeaBash 2014

Idea Bash June 2014, meetup was full of substance with five informative session, and one good interactive session to roundoff the best Idea Bash so far. Well done to the Idea Mart team, and hoping for an even better meetup in the Future!

Image Credits : Pasindu De Silva

IdeaBash 2014

InfoV – First Ever ICT Mega Event by a girls school

With the ICT industry booming in Sri Lanka, it is great to see schools participating actively in the promotion of ICT. Visakha Vidyalaya, one of the leading girls school in the island, is playing their part by organizing a large scale ICT exhibition. InfoV2014 ICT exhibition will be held on the 21st and 22nd of March at the School premises, with the first day being open to schools, and the second day open to the general public.

The objective of the exhibition is to grow the ICT knowledge and awareness among schoolchildren by showcasing products and services by industry giants, government bodies, and leading ICT universities. The exhibition will be comprised by the following components.

1. ICT Application and Trade Exhibition

(a) Schools and University Zone
(b) Industrial Zone
(c) Government Institutes
(d) Trade Zone

2. Mini Workshops on ICT themes by industrial/academic experts

3. Launching of an ICT Magazine with the winning articles of the Trilingual Island wide ICT essay Competition

4. ICT Quiz Program

5. Games & Entertainment zone


For more information visit

Code Ultimatum 2013 – IdeaMart Hackathon

Ideamart, the developer community of Dialog Axiata, announces their inaugural annual hackathon: Code Ultimatum. This the first instance where Ideamart is opening up the competition to the public. Applicants first need to submit a small video clip of their proposed idea to the Ideamart team. Ideas are set to be on open category and could range from corporate apps to educational apps to games. Importantly atleast one of the Ideamart APIs needs to be used in the development. Teams can consist of 5 members and the teams with the top 10 ideas would be chosen for the hackathon. Cash prizes and other benefits await the winners.

 “This is a great opportunity for developers to showcase their talent, learn on the mobile business line, and also generate some money as well. We are expecting some great apps to come out of this the competition, and we hope to give marketing support to such applications”

– Roshanth Gardiarachchi, Ideamart Team

This is the second hackathon which is conducted by Ideamart. The first hackathon was held at the University of Moratuwa and resulted in some cool apps like TaxiBuddy and MegaMind.

For more information on ideamart and its APIs visit

Code Ultimatum flyer

UX Colombo – The first meetup

The first ever UX Colombo meetup was held last Thursday(22nd August) at 99x Technology premises, with the aim of creating awareness and educating the Sri Lankan tech community on User Experience Designing. The meetup was attended by over 100 tech enthusiasts from the industry.

User experience is how a person feels when interfacing with a system

The speakers for the meetup

Shiran Sanjeewa – Art Director @ Netstarter

Pramith Rupasinghe – COO @ Solomo IT

Hasanga Abeyaratne – UX Lead @ 99x Technology

Kalana Wijesekara – Senior Software Engineer @ 99x Technology

The event was well organized, started right on time, included interesting presentations and freebie stickers :). UX Colombo will be organizing more meetups in the future, in addition to UX courses in order to increase the UX expertise in Sri Lanka. Below are some of the key points gathered from the meetup.

Why?, When?, Where?

UX Colombo


Key components which creates the UX in Software Products

Components of UX


User Centered Design Process

User Centered Design Process


The Paradigm Shift

The Paradigm shift

User Persona

This is a way of documenting your target users. By filling each of the four quadrants below, you get a better idea on the end user, and sometimes you might find out that the target user does not exist.

User Persona 2013 – Winners

The winners for the 2013 competition were announce last week with taking gold as the overall winner for 2013. The website for DFCC bank( came in second while the local cricket site Island Cricket ( was placed third. The Category winners are as listed below. is a competion organized by the LK registry in order to recognize top sites in Sri Lanka.

Overall Winners

Gold Winner –

Silver Winner –

Bronze Winner – Winners

Consumer and Ecommerce

Gold Winner –

Silver Winner –

Bronze Winner –


Corporate Banking and Finance

Gold Winner –

Bronze Winner –

Merit Winners – ,,



Silver Winner –

Bronze Winner –

Bronze Winner –


Marketing and Advertising

Silver Winner –

Silver Winner –

Merit Winners –,,



Gold Winner –

Silver Winner –

Bronze Winner –


Open Category

Silver Winner –

Merit Winners –,,


Sports & Entertainment

Gold Winner –

Silver Winner –

Bronze Winner –


Travel & Tourism

Silver Winner –

Bronze Winner –

Bronze Winner –


Public Service & Educational

Gold Winner –

Silver Winner –

Merit Winner –


Best Sinhala Website

Silver Winner –

Bronze Winner –

Merit Winners – ,


Best Tamil Website

Gold Winner –

Bronze Winner –

Merit Winners –

SL2College Voices 2013

For those of you who have just finished their A/Ls , taking the next step into undergraduate studies may be tricky. With the amount of higher education options, it gets quite difficult to decide on the best course of studies for you. You maybe fond of a certain stream but unsure of the career opportunities available. You are looking for expert advice but from where will you get it?

SL2Voices 2013

SL2Voices 2013 is an undergraduate conference organized by SL2college, with the participation of leading Sri Lankan academics and entrepreneurs  who will give you the expert advice needed to move in to the correct option of undergraduate studies.

The event will be held on the 25th August, 9.00am to 4.30pm at the University of Colombo V.K. Samaranayake Auditorium


The speaker panel will include the following highly distinguished personal

Mr. Dian Gomes, Group Director MAS Holdings

Mr. Sanjiva Weerawarna, CEO WSO2

Vidya Jothi Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare 
Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Peradeniya

Prof. Ajith De Alwis 
Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering University of Moratuwa

Mr. Arj Wignaraja, 
Founder and Managing Director – Remote Sensing Metrics Asia

Dr. Sujatha Gamage, 
Scientist at Lirneasia

Ms. Nelum Senadira,
The US-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission

Mr. Charitha Ratwatte,
Chief Manager – Sustainability at Dialog Axiata PLC

Mr. David Samuel – Business Development Manager, Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)

 Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonasekara, 
Executive Director at The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies

Mr. Dennis Schroeder (DAAD)

If you are seeking info on undergraduate studies, this event would be a great place to get an understanding on it.

For more info visit the SL2Voices 2013 website.

ROBOFEST 2013 goes to Jaffna and Trinco to find hidden talents

In their fourth consecutive year, ROBOFEST annual robotic competition organized by SLIIT goes to rural areas in finding hidden talents. There were workshops carried out for school children in Jaffna and Trinco June this year. This is their story of finding hidden talents!

The Electrical & Computer Engineering Department of Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) organizes ROBOFEST. Organizing team is headed by Dr. Lasantha Senevirathne. ROBOFEST 2013 competition takes place under three categories; school, undergraduate and open. The final competition will be hosted at the Malabe campus premises on the 13th & 14th September this year.

To encourage young minds on the very popular field of “robotics”, ROBOFEST committee decided that they want to go out of Colombo. Jaffna workshop was held on 17th May. Trinco workshop was held at Kinniya Central College on 14th June. Many enthusiastic students around Jaffna and Trinco areas respectively were gathered for those events.

“Since the school category of the competition is open for school students island-wide; we believed that we needed to give more attention to schools in rural areas as they do not have sufficient exposure to modern electronics and robotics. When we held workshops last year, we saw many enthusiasts from areas far from Colombo participated. And on the day of the competition, it was clear that, they had to work harder to get down the parts to build the robot compared to students around the capital. But they were equally talented. They’ve been having a hidden talent all along and all they needed was a “little push” and a “friendly hand” to help with putting things together. And that is exactly what we did during our workshops. And now, it’s good to see a new enthusiast joining us every day” said the media correspondent of ROBOFEST.


Last year’s competition school category was won by the project “Tinker” by Mahanama College Colombo 03. Second and third places were secured by projects representing Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala. More details of the last year’s competition can be seen here.

Below are a few captured moments from the event:

Robofest moments













Internet Entrepreneurship Forum – Rotaract Club of USJP

Event: Internet Entrepreneurship Forum

Organizers: The Rotaract Club of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in collaboration with the Department of Entrepreneurship USJP

Date & Venue: 11th June 2013 @ Fayol Hall University of Sri Jayewardenepura


This forum was organized with the aim for the cultivation of the entrepreneurship among undergraduates of USJP; making some of them budding entrepreneurs of tomorrow. 3 of the most significant characters in the field of internet based business presented their experiences and ideas in an interactive fashion.

Mr. Rohan Jayaweea, Country Consultant, Google Inc.

Mr. Reeza Zarook, CEO,

Mr. Indi Samarajiva, Founder of YAMU and Kottu blog syndicator

7 Problems to overcome and 7 things to think about – by Rohan Jayaweera

Rohan is also an entrepreneur himself, disclosed some of the difficulties that he has faced and mistakes that others can also learn from. Here is a summary of his session.

7 Problems to overcome

7 obstacles to overcome

7 Factors to think about

7 factors to think about

Final Quote:

Final Quote

Entrepreneurship as a voyage finding new territories – Indi Samarajeewa

Indi introduced himself as a business owner who does not make much money out of those businesses at the moment. His experience in the field as an entrepreneur was highlighted in this session. Here is a summary of his session.

Entrepreneurship as a voyage

How to Start a Startup ?- Reeza Zarook

Reeza is a Charted Accountant by profession, a man “who knows his numbers” did an inspiring and very interactive session taking everyone’s attention throughout the session. Here is a summary of his session.

How to start a starup


Below are a few captured moments from the event










Refresh Colombo January Meetup

Refresh Colombo, the monthly meetup of technology experts and professionals will be happening on the 24th of January 5.30pm onwards. You can check out below the interesting topics that are going to be presented at this months event. This is the first meetup for 2013 and we are looking forward to the many informative Refresh Colombo meetups throughout this year.

Spark iT – Empowering ICT entrepreneurship across Sri Lanka
– by The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

How to formulate a content strategy for your website.
– by Shaad Hamid
Great content is at the heart of every marketing campaign. How do you make sure your website’s content is relevant and how to leverage your content for your “brand awareness” and “direct response campaigns”.

The game of juggling balls (Balancing work & life)
– by Ms. Bernadine Jayasinghe
Bernadine is the CEO of Natural Reminders and also the Key to Success Academy and also currently working as an Executive in the corporate division at Union Assurance. She is a committee member of Reacreation Club of UA, Green Champion & the UA toastmaters secretary 2012/2013.

Colombo Agile Conference 2013

On the 23rd of January get ready to learn on agile techniques with two international scrum masters at the Colombo Agile Conference 2013. This event which is organized by the Colombo agile community is the follow up to successful Agile Camp. The main aim of this event is to spreading knowledge, and improving skills related to agile methodologies within the Sri Lankan ICT industry.

The keynote speaker Ilan Goldstein is globally recognized Certified Scrum Trainer (SCT) and is highly experienced in the Agile landscape. He will be joined by Colin Tan, Director of Scrum Australia who has worked in many companies and startups on project management and user experience. These two experts will be presenting on a mix of valuable topics covering the basics as well as advanced areas related to agile management.

For more information on the speakers and the event, visit

If you are interested in agile management, this is an event you should not miss!


CodeFest 2013

To mark a year of successful PHP meetups, Webgurus have organized CodeFest 2013. This event will allow the meetup members the opportunity to team up and showcase their design and development skills. Tourism will be the theme of CodeFest 2013 and teams need to come up with a relevant innovative idea, implement it and finally present it.

CodeFest will be held for two days, on the 19th and 20th of January. The event will kickoff from a presentation on Tourism, then to idea brainstorming and implementation which will surely run through the night till the following morning. The final products and services would be presented on the 20th to judges who will pick a winner. The winning team stands a chance to obtain funding to bring their project to the next level.

Expecting to see a lot of creative and innovative ideas at CodeFest.

For more information visit :