The ‘Yarl Geek Challenge Senior’ (YGC Senior) is a premier entrepreneurship competition open to all youth. Objective of the competition is to nurture entrepreneurship, business skills, technological skills, innovation and creativity.
This is one of the very impactful initiatives of Yarl IT Hub, which has seen its 11th edition in November, 2022. During the last ten years there are around 40+ startups which have been founded by YGC Senior alumni and have employed more than 400+ people in their organisations. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, YGC 9 and YGC 10 entirely went online while exploiting new opportunities and possibilities. This year after a 2 long years gap, YGC went physical in Jaffna. As usual there were two segments this year too. YGC Weekend in Jaffna where the qualifiers took place and YGC Finale online.
The entire process of YGC 11 started rolling in July 2022 with the call for applications. As the first element, there was a webinar conducted on how to find a good problem. During this seminar participants were guided on how to do brainstorming and pick a good problem to be solved. This year there were 65+ applications received by the application deadline. All the teams who applied got an opportunity to participate in webinars on Problem validation, Business Model Canvas Creation, Financial Modelling and Pitch Deck Creation. Following that the teams were asked to submit their results of problem validation, Business Model Canvas, Financial Model and initial pitch deck. 24 teams successfully submitted these and got through to the next stage. These 24 teams were given one on one business mentoring from mentors from Canada, USA and Australia. There were 16 Mentors joined us this time to support the teams to fine tune what they have in hand.
The next major segment of YGC Senior was the YGC weekend which took place in Jaffna. This YGC weekend was more like a festival. It was a 3 day event packed with a lot of activities. There were many parallel events happening and a large number of people gathered from different parts of the country to encourage the budding talents. The first day started with 18 teams which successfully came up to the qualifiers introducing their product or services to the audience. Then each of these teams got one on one business mentoring. While the business mentoring was going on, the YIT alumni got an opportunity to have one on one meetings with professionals, industry leaders, investors and successful entrepreneurs. The second day was even more colorful. While the YGC Senior teams were receiving one on one pitch coaching at HNB building, YIT Alumni Mini Expo and one on one meetings continued in parallel at Hatch Kalam. Selected companies founded by YGC Senior participants, Uki graduates and YGC accelerator companies showcased their business at the YIT Mini Expo. Following that post lunch, there was a discussion on . The impact created by the journey of “Puthiya Payanangal [New Journeys]”, the gamified app to learn technical terms for hearing impaired students at Nuffiled School, Paired Twin Classroom and YGC Junior were highlighted during this discussion. Soon after the discussion, the graduation of Uki coding school took place. The certificate of completion was awarded for 54 Students who completed the Uki full stack programme at Uki Jaffna, Uki Kilinochchi, Digital Marketing and Project Management. Later in the evening the most expected event of the YGC weekend, the networking dinner took place at Hatch Kalam. This was an opportunity for YIT alumni companies to meet and greet people and expand the network.
The third day was the most important day for the YGC team. It was the day where YGC teams pitched and few teams got selected to the finale. The day started with the judges briefing. This year Prajeeth Balasubramniam (Managing General Partner — BOV capital), Kasturi Chellarajah Wilson (Group CEO Hemas Holdings PLC), Prof Roshan Ragel (Head of Department, Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya), Prof Shivany Shanmugathas (Professor in Marketing, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Management Studies and commerce, University of Jaffna), Prof. Rohan Samarajeewa (Chairperson LirneAsia), Viranga Senevirathna (Senior General Manager — Ideamart) and Hasith Yaggahavita (Chief Technology Officer — 99x) joined as the qualifier judges. 18 Teams pitched their products/services and 8 teams got qualified to the finale.
Before the announcement of the winners, this year there was a very special segment. YIT was founded in 2011 and it has been running successfully creating a positive impact in the community for the last 11 years. Generous partners and sponsors of YIT is one of the pillars who helped to achieve YIT’s goals and vision. As a gesture of showing gratitude to them, all the long term sponsors were felicitated during the event.
As the final segment of YGC 11 senior, the Grand Finale of YGC 11 took place on the 20th of November 2022 via online. This was held online so that these products/services can get visibility in front of a global audience. This would also help them to reach a wider audience. Shan Nantha Kumar (Chairman of ITEE Foundation and CEO of Momentum Venture Partners) , Prof Roshan Ragel (Head of Department, Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya), Prof Shivany Shanmugathas (Professor in Marketing, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Management Studies and commerce, University of Jaffna), Sonali Werackody (Managing Director of Serendib Trust and co-investor of MVP) and Rajendra Theagarajah (Non Executive Chairman at Engenuity AI) as the judges for the finale. The following 7 teams pitched at the YGC 11 finale.
- Lanka Properties.Lk presented their platform through which anyone can sell their properties and buyers can buy properties.
- Journe showcased their experienced based tourism package and the need for it.
- Dream Team is a team trying to improve the media presence in Mannar by creating youtube channels, blogs and support small and medium scale businesses to promote their business
- iGrow presented a tech-based sustainable agricultural platform consisting of Co Farming, Smart Agri Training and Agri tourism
- Atelier Lanka produces furniture with traditional and modern designs along with other services such as flooring, ceiling etc
- Techserw Lab presented their gamified learning platform for kids which would help kids to learn using technology
- Scibot academy -showcased the DIY experiment kits they are implementing for demonstration purposes which can be used by teachers as well as students to learn.
- Codio presented a code editor with a live tutorial which will help anyone to learn programming easily.
YGC 11 Grand Finale came to an end with the winner announcement. Codio became the winners of YGC 11 while iGrow became the 1st runner up and Journey became the second runners up. Dream Team got judges’ special mention.
Yet another contributor to the success of YGC is the partners and sponsors. YIT would also like to extend heartfelt gratitude to the Partners and Sponsors of YGC 11.
Although we announce the winning team, the real winners would be the ones who would commit themselves to convert this into a running business with unrelenting passion! Yarl IT hub will also support anyone who would like to start a new business or take their business to the next level. YGC accelerator programme supports early stage as well as growth state startups to grow their business. Applications are now open for YGC accelerator cohort 6. Anyone interested could apply through this link.