What a Hackathon is: A marathon of hacking (ethically) to solve social, business
Health for All, a health and nutrition app concept, has taken top honours at the 2019 Geekulcha Hackathon.
The app’s founders, brothers Ndivhuwo and Phathutshedzo Khabubu are still developing their solution, saying it will use AI to recommend meal plans based on users’ location, income and medical history.
This was the sixth annual Geekulcha hack, taking place over the past weekend under the theme ‘building a geek culture of sustainable innovation.’
One of the event’s sponsors, startup campus GEN Africa 22 on Sloane hosted the 22 teams vying for R20 000 and a six-month incubation with 22 on Sloane. The hackathon’s other sponsors included Here Technologies, the Centre for Public Service Innovation and the Water Research Commission.
The eldest of the Khabubu brothers, Ndivhuwo said they both grew up with an interest in computers, “but I only realised how serious Phathutshedzo was about computing when I came home from varsity one day and he’d taken our computer apart!”
Phathutshedzo, who considers himself a late tech bloomer, said: “Being from Venda, we grew up with the culture of creating things. I wanted to be part of that and I’d noticed there weren’t many people around me creating Web sites so, at 18 I learnt how to do it.”
The brothers’ app, still just a prototype, was named ‘Health for All’ for the hackathon. Their intention is to ensure access to health for all.
“People in rural areas don’t have access to health professionals,” said Ndivhuwo. “That’s [why] we decided to bridge the gap between these professionals and rural communities.”
Health for All will use the data provided by its users to suggest a list of meals within one’s income bracket. Once a user selects a meal, they are given details of its nutritional content and a list of nearby shops that supply the ingredients for the selected meal. Users on the app’s premium model will have direct access to dieticians.
Now that they have won the 2019 Geekulcha hack, Ndivhuwo and Phathutshedzo plan on using the incubation to commercialise Health for All.
What can go wrong, will go wrong
In their acceptance speech, the brothers mentioned that they had been applying for incubation programmes since 2017. “We’re professional hackerthoners.”
They continued, “Being given this opportunity by 22 on Sloane is a blessing because one of the biases of incubation programmes is the idea that technical founders only know code so we can’t run businesses or solve societal problems. This will be an opportunity to prove that idea wrong.”
Ironically, during the weekend’s events, Phathu had an allergic reaction to something had eaten. He has no previous history of allergies and does not know what caused his reaction.
“It’s funny. You’re working a health solution and then you end up with a health problem, but it gives us a better idea of what Health for All wants to do” he said. All the GKSS Awards winners
The hackathon also saw the announcement of the Geekulcha’s Student Society (GKSS) awards, with Sol Plaatje University winning the best GKSS chapter of the year for its contribution to advancing the society’s tech ecosystem.