1st AngelHack hackathon in Manila sees rising technology rock stars
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - July 6, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Ask any Filipino and chances are, he or she knows what Facebook is. Not everyone may be familiar with all of its bells and whistles (some may not even have their own accounts), but there’s no denying that the social networking site has become a household name.

For Rolly Rulete, Marvin Consuegra, Raymund Delfin, Mio Miguel Galang, and Jay-Rodrigo Albano, Facebook’s popularity not only among 30 million Filipinos but also among 16 million Filipino businesses makes it a prime candidate for the next big economic revolution in mobile apps.

The five make up Team PageSnapp, winner of the recently concluded AngelHack Manila, the first hackathon or “hacking marathon,” organized by the international group AngelHack in the country. The event was held at Voyager Innovations in Pasig City. 

“Our Web and mobile designer Marvin (Consuegra) always has a hard time searching for pages in Facebook’s sidebar,” said Rulete. “Since he owns and manages a number of Facebook pages, he thought of creating an app that can make a mobile app out of the readily available information on the page itself.” 

By automatically mining all relevant and readily available data, PageSnapp turns any Facebook page into its own app.

The generated app could then be made available by the businesses to their end-users or customers so that the latter gain instant and hassle-free access to the latest information on the business.

Apart from giving software developers a chance to learn about new tools and expand their network, AngelHack events put emphasis on creating working software prototypes instead of just pitching ideas.

This year alone, AngelHack has organized 100 hackathons, bringing together more than 15,000 developers in over 50 cities around the world.

Winners from every city are put through the AngelHack Accelerator Program, where they will be mentored for 12 weeks. After that they will be brought to Silicon Valley to raise investment and to be introduced to incubators.

Previous winners have gone on to attend Y-Combinator, AngelPad, TechStars, 500 Startups, and incubators around the world.

With the help of AngelHack, Smart Developer Network (Smart DevNet), incubator IdeaSpace Foundation Inc. (IdeaSpace), PageSnapp is getting over P2 million worth of prizes, including a travel and incorporation grant, $20,000 seed funding from Asia Pacific Ventures, and free developer tool services. 

“It’s a huge problem for small businesses to go mobile, and no one’s solved it. They (Team PageSnapp) created something that would help these businesses make apps easily, and they did this in a super simple way,” said AngelHack founder and CEO Greg Gopman. 

“It’s a very unique application. It’s one of those things that other people have tried to do but have not figured out how to do simply,” he said.

PageSnapp beat 52 other apps from varying fields. The teams presented their apps to a panel of judges comprised of leaders in the startup, developer, and venture capital communities: Gopman, TechCrunch writer John Constine, Morphlabs founder Winston Damarillo, Metro Deal founder Ralph Wunsch, Jay Yao of MerchantCloud, Microsoft Philippines’ Alvin Gendrano, Shoephoric.com founder Ann Jacobe, Stratpoint’s Floyd Piedad, CashCashPinoy’s Frederic Levy, BlackBerry’s Jiazi Xu, Seed Asia’s Beryl Li, JR Contreras of Imperium Technologies, Meralco’s Ernie Imperial, Adrich Scheuders of Freelancer.ph, and Novare’s Miguel Paraz.

“Manila is a hotbed for developer talent. As we expanded across the globe, it was one of our top destinations. In the future, we believe there is enough demand to do multiple events in the Philippines,” said Gopman.

“Doing projects and apps for social good is very fulfilling. We feel honored that we can help our country using our talents and skills,” Rulete said.

“Smart and IdeaSpace could better support the developer community in the Philippines by hosting more developer events not just in Manila but also in the provinces,” Rulete added.

The son of a fisherman from Surigao del Sur, Rulete first came to prominence when he helped develop Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), a mobile app from the Department of Science of Technology (DOST), which gives smartphone users access to comprehensive and real-time weather data.

“We feel that PageSnapp will help boost both our personal reputations and professional portfolios — my teammates and I feel like celebrities,” Rulete said.

Rulete alludes to how celebrity rock star status is now akin to success in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT).

Over the past years, tech luminaries such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Steve Jobs, and even the Philippines’ Dado Banatao have made their legacies felt by billions of “connected” individuals.

Despite their most recent win and newfound fame, however, Rulete said numerous improvements are in the pipeline as they still have big plans left for PageSnapp.

“Mobile is growing so fast and we believe that mobile is a business imperative. We will also scale the app to other platforms,” he said.     

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