Building Markets’ Global Entrepreneurship Network in Myanmar recently hosted a Chatbot
Hackathon in order to provide local and foreign creative professionals the space,
knowledge, skills, and not-so- gentle push needed to build their own chatbot.
A “chatbot” is a conversational computer program designed to simulate an intelligent
conversation with one or more human users via messenger platforms, often combining the
ease of SMS with the robust functionality of mobile apps. A “hackathon” is a design sprint
event in which subject matter experts, computer programmers, designers, project
managers, and other creative professionals collaborate intensively on building minimum
viable products in 48 hours.
Leading up to the main event, Building Markets hosted two training sessions on Design and
Technology that included experienced chatbot builders sharing their work, as well as tips
and resources (including templates, datasets, and APIs) for success.
On Friday night of the main event, participants pitched their ideas, self-selected into teams
of 2-5 people, and then began “hacking” their chatbot. Sixty participants representing 12
countries attended the event. On Saturday, teams continued hacking from 7am to 11pm. On
Sunday, teams pitched their minimum viable products in front of a panel of 7 industry
Pitches included a wide range of chatbots: a job candidate interviewer, a translator, a
mobile money agent finder, and several e-commerce shopping assistants.
The panel of 7 industry experts awarded over $2,000 in prizes, including a $500 Mobile
Money prize and a $500 E-Commerce prize. Global Entrepreneurship Network in Myanmar
is now planning additional hackathons, including Data Visualization and Geo-Location
The Chatbot Hackathon is an initiative of Building Markets’ Global Entrepreneurship
Network in Myanmar, which is funded by the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID). For more information about this event, visit