Sunday Observer, June 3rd, 2012
Calcey Technologies, a software development services company in Sri Lanka catering to the US market and a full member of AmCham celebrated its 10th year in business recently in a unique and productive way by organising an inter-university hackathon.
CEO and the founder of Calcey Technologies, Mangala Karunaratne said that one objective of the hackathon was promoting entrepreneurship and the product development culture among young IT graduates in Sri Lankan universities.
This is important to develop Sri Lank’s IT industry rather than being just an offshore body shop destination for the industry. A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others in the software development field such as graphic designers, interface designers and project managers collaborate intensively on software- related projects. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week in length. Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, although in many cases the goal is to create usable software, or to improve existing software.
Karunaratne, recounted the beginnings and ten-year long way to success in the software industry. “It was a humble beginning and the company was started in an old office belonging to my father in Kularathna Mawatha, Maradana with only two developers. I had work experience in the Silicon Valley for Nortel Networks as a product manager. I then decided to start this business.
Being an astute entrepreneur at heart, my father encouraged me to use the relationships I had forged in the US and launch an offshore consulting business.
Today, Calcey Technologies is a multi-million dollar consulting business housed in a four-story well-furnished building at Seibel Avenue Kirilapona, with 60 staff, he said.
“We served many famous names along the way such as WikiMedia Foundation, Hoya ConBio, BNBuilders, or JiWire Inc. One particular client relationship that blossomed into a great partnership was with Compare Networks, a giant in the Biotechnology marketing space. We began by providing BPO services for managing their Web content, and ended up developing an entire platform to manage their online B2B marketplaces. We’ve done business with Compare Networks for over five years to date, and we hit it off really well with them”, he said.
“I believe we are a truly innovative company in comparison with most other offshore development companies.
We have dared to be different by investing some of our profits to incubate products and spin-off new ventures, harnessing the creativity and ingenuity of our own staff. Our first product is already online at Xaffo.com, and is a foray into the rapidly expanding space of Social Media Intelligence.
We hope to do what Google Analytics does for Websites, but this time with a Social Media angle to the metrics provided. Its early days for Xaffo, and we are keeping our fingers crossed, Karunarathne said. This all-weekend event took place on May 19 and 20.
The goal of a ‘hackathon’ is to have programmers “hack together” a working piece of software that addresses a real-world product requirement, in double-quick time. The emphasis in a hackathon is on meeting the specified product requirement, using whatever coding shortcuts available for the programmers.
The technical solution is considered important, but secondary to a speedy delivery of the product.
Six leading Sri Lankan universities participated in this event, The University of Colombo School Of Computing (UCSC), The Department of Computer Science and Engineering – University of Moratuwa (CSE), The IT Faculty – University of Moratuwa (Moratuwa IT), The University Of Kelaniya, The Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) and The Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT).
A team of three undergraduate programmers represented each campus, and they were free to use any technology platforms of their own choice, to get the job done on time. The winners of the hackathon will be announced next week after evaluation of the work done by the teams.