Three and a Half Men: Advocating Food Safety
With members as interesting as their team's name, Three and a Half Men, the Banglalink Ennovators 3.0 contestants, successfully made their spot as the second runners up, with their idea of creating an app that tracks product authenticity in the food market.
Banglalink Ennovators is about forming a smart city using the digital services of the company. Currently, one of Dhaka's biggest crisis remains in the food business, where manufactured goods that are expired or have been inauthentically packaged continue circulating the market. Additionally, consumers have little to no idea about the allergens these food items could contain.
"People are not consciously living; they're simply surviving," says one of the team members, Wasif Habib, of the 24th BBA batch of IBA. Two of his comrades Ashfaqul Azam and Asif Ahmad are both in their final year as well, at the Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), and the youngest member, Shezan Mahmud Pranto, is currently enrolled under the Mechanical Engineering Department in his second year at the Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) – that should explain the team name.
The enthusiastic team members shared some of their interesting memories from this journey, including a zumba session as part of their ice-breaking activity the day the first hundred selected candidates were invited at the Banglalink Tiger's Den after the initial round of online gaming. Over time, the next forty candidates that were shortlisted had proved their on-spot problem-solving and team-building capabilities. Adapting to the strengths and weaknesses of complete strangers to win a competition were what Ashfaqul Azam quotes to be "a reflection of real life."
Afterwards, at the bootcamp in BRAC CDM, participants were divided into 10 teams of 4 members each, and within 24 hours, asked to present the idea that would take them to the top 5, and eventually, the final 3. With workshops and constant guidance from their mentors, team Three and a Half Men came up with the idea of creating an app called 'Touchstone', where initially, the public information regarding ingredients provided by the food companies would be compared to the BSTI as well as international standards. Eventually, they would demand that companies provide additional data, such as manufacturing dates, side effects and allergen information, all accessible to the public through scanning product barcodes in the app, so that they are able to make conscious choices of healthy living.
The final round judges were Monzula Morshed and Gaurav Kakkar of Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd, alongside Mustafizur Khan, Founder and CEO of Startup Dhaka and Upskill. While the champions of the event are set to visit Banglalink's parent company VEON's headquarters in Amsterdam, the top 3 finalist teams are being fast tracked forward for the Management Trainee programme, and all of the final year students from the top 5 teams are set to begin their internship with Banglalink from this year.