It’s amazing what gets created when a bunch of innovative and creative minds gather together.
A team of six who met during the ice-breaker activity at GIC’s Start-up Weekend from Sept 29 to Oct 1 not only managed to pull off an impressive goal of creating a travel chatbot within three days, they also clinched first prize at the hackathon while at it.
A Facebook Messenger chatbot, Kecap is meant to act as a “local travel buddy” in Medan who can help you provide travel tips, recommendations and even plan your itinerary.
“I’m a traveller myself and we wish to bring people to explore less-travelled destinations starting with those closer to this region,” leader Abhilash Murthy, 25, tells Business Insider over email.
The other members of Kecap’s team include Dylan Tan, 25, Sebastien Stettler. 27, Christopher Elten, 21, Zelia Leong, 26, and Felix Tan, 26.
The story behind the chatbot’s name is really kind of cute. Kecap, which also means sweet soy sauce in Indonesia, was actually the name of a mountain guide Abhilash met at Lombok’s Mt Rinjani.
“He’s definitely a quirky character to remember, and shared that he loved Kecap as a child, and thus the nickname stuck,” he explains.
So why name their chatbot after a mountain guide?
That’s because Kecap the guide was entertaining, informative and acted as a helpful local friend to climbers – characteristics Abhilash says his team hopes their chatbot will possess as well.
More than 250 people participated in the GIC event, which is one of Southeast Asia’s largest hackathons.
“The mentors, hosts, and judges gave us great insight and we all learned so much about how to build and run a start-up from them,” Abhilash tells us.
According to GIC, participating teams were evaluated based on their business model, execution and validation.
In the end, their great chemistry helped them clinch first place and a total of S$50,000 in prizes, including the much coveted iPhone X, which has not even been released yet, and tickets to Design Thinking courses to help them further refine their skills.
They also won the GIC Prize, meant for the idea with the greatest imagination, feasibility and disruptive potential.
While they haven’t decided what they would do with the prizes won, the team is already planning to develop similar localised chat bots for various other cities, Abhilash tells us.
“We hope to eventually build a network of complementary chatbots that work with each other to provide better information and convenience to our users,” he says.