Localised travel chatbot wins two prizes at Startup Weekend Singapore hackathon

Team leader Abhilash Murthy (third from right) and the rest team Kecap, which won both the first prize and GIC prize at the SWSG Mega, on Oct 1, 2017.
Team leader Abhilash Murthy (third from right) and the rest team Kecap, which won both the first prize and GIC prize at the SWSG Mega, on Oct 1, 2017. PHOTO: GIC

SINGAPORE - A localised travel chatbot has won the top prize at Startup Weekend Singapore (SWSG) Mega 2017 - a three-day hackathon that ended today.

Kecap, touted by its developer as the local friend from Medan, Indonesia who will help you out with prepping your trip including sharing local titbits, recommending food and activities, and planning itineraries.

"Winning both the First Prize and GIC Prize at SWSG Mega is the best form of validation for us," said Mr Abhilash Murthy, team leader of Kecap.

"We believe we now have credibility to reach out to investors, develop contacts and grow our project."

The event, held in partnership with sovereign wealth fund GIC, saw 251 participants at NUS University Town pitch more than 100 ideas, formed 36 teams around the top ideas and received guidance from close to 40 mentors.

Some ideas pitched in the early rounds of judging include an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered photography assistant, a virtualised home-based solution for caregivers of dementia patients and a project to bring freedom to money using blockchain.

A total of five winners were named.

Second prize went to MediWhere, a telemedicine solution for the elderly while third prize was awarded to Keep, a self-storage solution that connects storage keeper and storage provider.

Photonify, an AI-powered photography assistant, snagged the Most Creative Prize.

In recent years, companies and tech-driven investors have started backing hackathons, which typically involve groups of people working together to solve - or hack - a problem, and build the seeds of a start-up.

Participants at SWSG, who hail from all walks of life, hunkered down from Friday to Sunday pitching ideas for problems they intend to work on and then forming teams around the most promising ones.

Although GIC invests outside of Singapore as a rule and not in local companies, it embraces innovation and enterprise.

Summing up, GIC chief executive officer Lim Chow Kiat said: "As a Singapore institution, GIC is inspired by the spirit of courage and enterprise exhibited over the last 54 hours."