App for sending free text messages wins in AngelHack Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 August) — An application called HopChat that allows smartphone users to send text messages for free won in the AngelHack Davao on August 15 to 16, 2015.

Eric Su, co-founder and chief-executive-officer of Twidl Inc., said they have employed the so called “mesh network” to create the application during the two-day hackathon that gathered at least 25 teams in Davao City.

He explained HopChat can be a good alternative to telephone companies since it addresses problems like having no load.

“The mesh network is already existing, but only few use it for its limitation,” he said.

It works on three layers, he explained, such as using bluetooth, wifi, and mobile data to exchange messages.

Su, however, said that HopChat needs to increase its number of users to widen its coverage as a user’s message can get across another user’s gadget within a range of 50 to 70 meters.

To resolve this, the team, which included Iñaki Narciso, Kevin Ladan, Tim Duhaylungsod, Mark Valles and Su, did some workaround to expand it by making someone’s gadget as a medium, so that the message can be sent to the recipient even outside the 50 to 70-meter range.

“What’s special about this is that when your phone is being used as a medium, you get a HopCoin, which you can exchange for currency or use to buy some items,” he said.

The team conceptualized the HopChat for two months and came up with a prototype during the AngelHack Davao.

AngelHack organizes “hackathon competitions for web developers and entrepreneurs, called AngelHacks, where they can learn developer tools, meet new friends, and receive funding and mentorship for their startup ideas. Winners from every city are put through the AngelHack Accelerator Program, where they are mentored for 12 weeks before bringing them out to Silicon Valley to raise investment and introduce them to incubators.”

In October 2016, the team will compete in the Global Demo Days in Silicon Valley, San Francisco in the US, home of some of the world’s biggest technology companies, with other software developers for incubation and possible funding from investors.

This was not the first time Su was sent to Silicon Valley. In 2014, he was sent there after winning the ON3 Pitching Competition for his photosharing site Piclyf, which was later changed to Lifebit in 2013.

Lifebit has now become a social networking site about “doing and reinforcing.” It has quests that users must carry out in exchange for coins.

It is also built on three pillars: introspection, inspiration, and motivation, Su said.

Su was a former network engineer, IT department head, IT professor, graphic designer, animator, UI and game designer.

Narciso, a game developer, who worked on the android version of the HopChat, has developed several apps and games for mobile gadgets and the web. Among them are Tinygram and Lifebit.

He won first place in Startup Weekend Davao with his entry Testcovery in November 2012.

Ladan is a game developer who also works for Lifebit.

Duhaylungsod is the lead iOS Developer at Twidl Inc. He was Narciso’s teammate in the Startup Weekend Davao in 2012.

Valles is also iOS and web developer at the Twidl. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)