The second symposium of the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI) in Cairo, has hosted the first-ever FIGI Hackathon, challenging 55 developers from over Egypt. The developers worked with open application programming interfaces (APIs) offered by eight technology partners to develop apps with potential to incentivise electronic payment.
Following one day and one very long night of competition, a team of five young people, two pre-seniors, two seniors students at the faculty of Media Engineering and Technology at the German University in Cairo and a high school student, have managed to complete their app, Mekaneeky, winning the first place in the competition with a $6,000 award..
The team was interviewed by Daily News Egypt about their application, the challenges they faced and what they want to do next, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Who are the members of the Mekanik app team?
We are a team of 5 people, Ahmed Zaki, Amr Ahmed, Mohamed Hussein, Salma Medhat and Ahmed Hisham.
Four of us are Studying Computer Science and Engineering at the faculty of Media Engineering and Technology at the German University in Cairo, and we have our youngest member, Mohamed Hussein who is an IGCSE student in grade 11.
Ahmed Zaki and Amr Ahmed are seniors in their fifth and last year at the GUC
Salma Medhat and Ahmed Hisham are pre-seniors in their fourth year at the GUC
Could you describe to us what is Mekaneeky app?
Mekaneeky is a mobile application that allows you to easily find the best car repair shop for you! You can search by location, rating, price range and many more. That’s not all! Mekaneeky also provides a booking system so that you can have a queue-less, wait-free repair.
Your car stopped for any reason in the middle of nowhere, No worries! Open the app and request a “Mekaneeky” at your location right away!
How did the team get the idea of the app?
Our team always tries to focus on solving real life problems that we face every day. We usually brainstorm together and come up with many ideas. Mekaneeky is one of our ideas which we found very suitable for our community in Egypt. So we wanted to implement it, and we found that the theme of the FIGI hackathon is compatible with our idea. So we knew that this is an opportunity to implement our idea. We faced a huge challenge because we had to develop a fully working prototype in only one day of programming. However, we all stayed up working for around 30 hours to finish the prototype. Then we presented it at the Hackathon, and this was the beginning of Mekaneeky.
How did you feel when you heard that you won first place?
We were all waiting for the announcement on the edges of our seats with our hearts pounding very fast. Once we knew we got the first place we couldn’t help but jump up from our seats, screaming with happiness and excitement. And also, a feeling of that now is the time for us to realise our idea and have it in the market.
What were the obstacles you faced while working on the app?
The main challenge was time as we had to finish a fully working prototype in a day. However, another obstacle was optimisation of the scheduled booking system. We worked hard to come up with an efficient system that is suitable for the mechanic as well as the customer. Our system is optimised so that the customer doesn’t have to wait in the queue, and the mechanic gets as many customers as possible.
What do you need to make the app better and more efficient?
To make the app better we need a big user base. In other words, we can increase efficiency if we monitor the actual user usage so that we can tweak the app to suit the users’ needs. So, a marketing campaign is necessary so that we can get enough users to use the app better.
Finally, what is your next step?
Our current target is to get Mekaneeky into the hands of Egyptians as soon as possible, we are currently working in parallel on different parts to make the app market-ready