Colombo Hackathon (FTW I Guess)

I never actually thought of the CMBHack as a contest, but I guess it was in a ways. As far as voting by the judges went, my idea (YAMU – A Location Based Cab App) won, but as for the market, who knows. There were a number of viable ideas presented and a number that could be viable if worked out. But I think my idea was pretty good, and with the help of a team and mentors, we actually polished it out into a feasible business.

I won’t get into that too much here. It’s basically a system that lets you order cabs (including meter tuks) from your smartphone. Instead of giving them directions (a majory pain), it picks up your location via GPS. Simple idea, and already done in Singapore and the US, within my knowledge. One thing I learned from the Hackathon is that the value isn’t in the raw idea, it’s when you talk it out and work it into a business that it’s really worth something.

I think we put together a damn good presentation, but that was largely because of A) sharing the idea and B) getting input and support. This is why the community that the guys at Cinergix ( and Orion City and Venture Engine are putting together is so important. These are guys that have made it in startups or business and they’re leaving an elevator behind them, so that’s great.

People have created a path for businesses, you come to this event, present a business plan to Venture Engine, appear on the Silicon Valley webcast then MUHAHAHA (spelling?) Indians come and steal your ideas.

Seriously, there is this retrograde attachment in Sri Lanka that prevents, shall we say, financial enlightenment. Sharing ideas is how you get funding and support, and India is the ultimate exit. That’s the big mango, and we should be scrambling for a bite at it. Seriously, fuck the UN vote and politics, this is strictly business.

I shared my idea at CMBHack and now here and probably more places. Could other people copy it? Yes, probably. I thought of it independently, but it’s still been done in other places. Raw originality isn’t what innovation is, innovation is adaptation, something which gives advantage in a particular environment. They don’t have what I have, which is how to execute the idea, who to execute it with, where to get the money, and how to take it all to market. And that, I am discovering, is what startups are about. Your idea has to enter the market to even start.

Anyways, it was a great experience. All the teams were great and I learned more from them and the mentors than in months of doodling around. There were guys who made some serious money giving damn helpful advice that spared weeks of mistakes and possibly permanent misadventure.

So how’s YAMU going? It’s going. Literally. I just woke up in a haze today and I’m taking the day off. I’m still on the street, I’m still dealing with cabs everyday, so tomorrow it’s back to hustling.

RSS feed | Trackback URI


2012-03-26 16:35:02

They’ve had this in London for a while, seems pretty close to what you’re aiming for. Have a look:

2012-03-26 17:46:50

Would be Ah-mazing if you could set this up in SL and make it work efficiently. Please get it done lanka soon :)

the way of the dodo
2012-03-26 18:12:02

that seems like a neat idea, but won’t this require cabbies to have another GPS. Also, why can’t you just text your GPS coordinates to the guy.

2012-03-26 19:40:17

Nice idea, also on the application itself show the near by taxi station (available cabs)
so you will have a option to take a bus or cab
also have a system like which allows the 3wheel (cab) companies to share , now every one has started meter taxis and we dont know which no to call

2012-03-26 19:51:58

Include Janith’s Bus route finder –

2012-03-26 19:49:07

Agree with you Indi. Innovation is not original idea.

Gone are the days where people develop products in closed groups. Innovation can be triggered exponentially when you open it out. More you open it out, faster you develop it. Idea stealing is a risk but if you manage it properly (mean faster launch) you still get the advantage.

Let’s go.. ‘Open innovation’!

2012-03-26 23:32:45

“Good artists copy, great artists STEAL”

2012-03-26 23:11:26

Again well said Indi, hope your busy executing :)!!

2012-03-26 23:34:18

Enjoyed your awesome presentation! you should definitely make it available to all the sri lankans soon :) good luck!

2012-03-27 16:53:55

[...] But the idea is there. We’ll see. A lot of people now want to ‘steal’ the Hackathon idea – incubating startups – which I’m assuming is fine with them also. There [...]

Name (required)
E-mail (required - never shown publicly)
Your Comment (smaller size | larger size)
You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

email indi AT

Recent Comments

Anti Christian Christmas (2)

Jack Point: I found this video very disturbing. v=EUHCQyxK3ps&a mp;feature=yout http://dbsjeyar hives/27450

Jack Point: “these acts go under the radar because they’re on what my friend Dinidu calls ‘minorities within minorities’. The attacks are no less awful, however, and it’s sad the mainstream Muslims and Christians are not speaking out,”...

What A Colombo Revolution Might Look Like (Thailand) (5)

sharanga: Good constructive criticism.

sharanga: >the electorate is too ill-informed to decide This is almost always true in any country. It’s one of the greatest faults of democracy. The electorate is ill-informed and as public choice theorists put it, systematica...

Faz: What a ridiculous post Indi. I don’t even know where to begin with this

The Southern Expressway Bus (11)

Jack Point: Wy can’ these MORONS publish the damned timetable? Is that such a hard thing to do ? We have to go round in circles looking for info, no one knows exactly. Every website says contact 1919 but those idiots are only available...

The Cantaloupe Crash (10)

Iqbal: 5.5 million is a lot of money. Sounds about right. OMG 7 million for a wedding? Who organised it Cantaloupe? Did the poruwa crash doen around you? Either way you got ripped off machan. You ain’t no math wiz for sure. More like dim wit.

Iqbal: Indi, I think the official revenue figure was more like Rs 55 million for this Cantaloupe event. Which gives the directors pretty much what you say. I pity the fools that paid such an amount to have their NYE ruined.

Math Whiz: So there were 3500 tickets right? Normal Tickets were Rs. 10,000/- and VIP Tickets were Rs. 13,000/-. Just for the sake of argument let us go with the higher number of Rs. 13,000/- per ticket: 3500 X 13000 = Rs. 45,500,000/- There are 4...

Ali Baba And The NSA (1)

sack: I think you are forgetting the fact that most of the NSA type work (NSA is one among many) is done by private companies. In theory you can say that NSA employees are employees of the government who is doing a duty rather like soldiers. But...

What A Colombo Revolution Might Look Like (Thailand)

There’s a section of Sri Lanka – call them UNPers, elites, ESE, Ceylonese, whatever – that really really dislike Mahinda Rajapaksa and everything he represents. They’d like to see him thrown out of power at the least and tried as a war criminal at the most. This amorphous population, however, cannot beat him in elections and many don’t even vote. They do have disproportionate international connections so are featured a lot in international coverage of Sri Lanka, but they’re not especially influential within. I generalize because I’m talking broadly about a community I am or moreso was a part of.

Ali Baba And The NSA

There’s been a lot of talk about Edward Snowden and the NSA, specifically whether he should be hanged by his neck till dead or treated as a whistleblower. I lean towards the whistleblower side, largely because it’s really hard to take the side of a monolith like the NSA over one human being. There are a few points which have been bugging me.

Anti Christian Christmas

Shamefully, places of worship were attacked over the holidays – both Christian and Muslim. In this case the attacks seem to have been Muslims attacking Sufis (a sect) and claimed Buddhists attacking evangelical Christians. Both of these acts go under the radar because they’re on what my friend Dinidu calls ‘minorities within minorities’. The attacks are no less awful, however, and it’s sad the mainstream Muslims and Christians are not speaking out, let alone Buddhists.

The Cantaloupe Crash

Cantaloupe is an events management team that grew out of the old Colombo Nightlife crew, AFAIK. I’ve met a few of the directors and they’re nice enough, though those sort of events and nightclubs (Amuseum) are not my scene at all. They are, however, a scene which a lot of people seem to enjoy. Underneath that lifestyle, however, there’s always an undercurrent of violence and danger. This New Year’s Eve nobody shot off guns (which happens in Colombo), but an entire stage did collapse, injuring hundreds. There are limited ways to respond to such disasters, but not being prepared, not getting the injured to hospital as a priority and continuing the party have not represented Cantaloupe or the Hilton well.