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News  5, Sep 2013

Coca-Cola meets Gingee Games: Hackathon for the code illiterate

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Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) Singapore recently organized a hackathon, where winners received US$20,000 to take their project to the next level.


Last Friday to Sunday (August 30 to September 1), some 40 individuals gathered at Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) Singapore, a British advertising agency, to take part in the BBHMakerLab’s three-day hackathon The Weekend Lab.

These participants formed teams, and were then tasked to create a working mobile app or game to dispel a misconception the masses have about Coca-Cola.

UPDATE: We have removed the hackathon brief provided by BBH as it is only meant for the participants.

However, this was no traditional hackathon targeted at hardcore coders. David Webster, digital business development director at BBH, said that they didn’t want an event restricted to only geeks and programmers. The 40 attendees came from all walks of life, with the majority of them being tertiary students from LASALLE, Singapore Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University.

Read also: Here’s how major tech companies are helping students in Singapore

What’s the best part? Most of these bright minds have never even typed a single line of programming code in their entire lifetime. How exactly are they going to come up with a worthy product, which Coca-Cola will fund US$20,000 to have it taken to the next level?

Here’s where Gingee Games comes into the picture. With their app development solution, Gameologee, the Israel-based startup allows anyone (yes, even the code illiterate) to go about creating their working app, on any platform they want. That means that without technical knowledge, I can come up with an app with working animations, a beautiful interface and monetization options in a “drag-and-drop” fashion for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows 8 and Kindle Fire NOOK in half the time.

Gingee Games’ founder and CEO Roei Livneh came down for the hackathon and told e27 through a video call, “It was the first time we’re doing something in Asia. The people were amazing, super motivated. If I could hire them all, I would [...] You don’t expect the idea to come through. I was shocked.”

Madison Avenue meets Silicon Valley

If Silicon Valley is the Mecca of technology, Madison Avenue must be the hub for advertising. David said that the three-day hackathon was a way for startups to collaborate with agencies and brands. He then opined, “I’m not sure the right model has been found yet. This is a grassroots event. One thing we’re looking at is innovation. From the client’s perspective, it’s innovation with a business interest.”

He then quipped that looking at what the participants were armed with — a level of competence, creativity and resilience — he is worried that he might lose his job in a year. However, we all know that he probably wouldn’t. So, what are these youngsters not doing right?

David answered that he thinks the youths are doing everything they can. He added, “Often, there aren’t enough opportunities. [Upon entering the workforce,] you are the one who assists someone who assists someone yet. If we are giving kids opportunities, but not as a charity, it is going to make us more successful.”

UPDATE: All participants of The Weekend Lab were given a full year’s license to use the Gingee Games’ platform, Gameologee.

The winning team

The winning team, made up of two LASALLE students (Zac Ong and Jacky Boen) were said to have amazed everyone, including the judges.

Boxed by non-disclosure agreements, David and Miguel Andrés-Clavera, the creative technology and innovation director, maneuvered around the winning idea so they could share what it is, without leaking out the juicy bits. Well, firstly, it was no app. Everyone in the room was expecting an app, but these two friends won fair and square – by pushing the envelope.

(From left to right) Miguel, Zac, Jacky and David

David said, “It won’t be an app. It’s a piece of hardware, which interacts with mobile devices to build an ecosystem.”

Zac and Jacky will also be mentored by the BBH team to create a prototype before the end of this year. This means that a proof of concept will be used to measure demand for the product. Then, there will be a film made to capture and document the masses’ reaction to the hardware.

Read also: Independent artists can now submit their songs directly to Ohdio

While the hackathon is designed for the code illiterate, these two youths shared that they have tried programming. Jacky said, “It’s all self-taught. We actually come from an Arts school but technology was self-taught.”

Furthermore, it turned out that even though the drag-and-drog software Gameologee might be incredulously too good to be true, it might take users more than just a few days to figure out. Zac said, “We tried the tool. It’s pretty cool but because of time constraints and unfamiliarity with the software, we decided to write our own code.”

UPDATE: Zac later added that they adapted their code to the existing software. BBH also said that most participants could crack the software within an hour.

If everyone wanted an app, what made them different might just be what BBH is looking for. After all, the British advertising agency’s motto goes, “If the world zigs, zags”. Zac added:

“First, we were just trying to jump out of the box with brainstorming. Many people will be trying to create an app and it’s going to be like the brief and we just wanted to try something different. So, we came up with the idea and presented it and surprisingly, they liked it.”

Miguel jumped in, “There was five seconds of silence and later everyone was amazed.”

Perhaps it was just their gungho spirit that set them apart. Zac shared that it was actually their second idea that gave them this opportunity to work with both Coca-Cola and BBH. After pitching the initial idea, they were not sure if they wanted to present the second one as well. He recounted, “We were thinking, “Should we share the second idea? Why not?”

This being the first hackathon they attended, it seems they asked the right question. “Why not?”

Featured Image Credit: Hindu Business Line / Shutterstock

Elaine Huang

Elaine Huang

Elaine is a fervent believer that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, we will all be snapping away at them with our phones and posting them onto Instagram. A Mass Communication graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film and Media Studies, she enjoys writing about technology and entrepreneurs. When not hashtagging her way through all sorts of trouble, Elaine is probably contemplating how to write in the third person.

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