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