Buslivery, a team of five ambitious young students, recently won the Vietnam Post’s Challenge at the AngelHack’s Hackathon, which took place at Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) on June 22-23, 2019.
Fulbright’s incoming student, Tran Nhut An, impressed the judges with his convincing presentation on the group’s idea of utilizing excess capacity on public buses for increasing postal service’s eficiency.
Instead of spending the summer break traveling like his peers, An’s idea of an ideal summer vacation was to work. This summer, it involved pulling an all-nighter and nourishing himself with coffee to keep him awake at 4 am in the morning as pitch day began in less than 9 hours. The hackathon was not a competition for the faint-of-heart; and An is not easily discouraged. He came into the competition well-prepared.
As a graduate from Lawrence S. Ting School (LSTS), An participated in at least one large-scale competition every semester. When he went to the U.S. for college, he lost this momentum.
“I have not joined an event like this for nearly a year and AngelHack seems like a good opportunity. I could not stand staying stagnant. Additionally, I require a much-needed change of environment from my back-breaking summer internship. Nevertheless, I find it highly ironic that I chose to work to relax from working,” An shared.
30-hour journey to win
An came into the Hackathon with more than one idea; and he was not the only one. Buslivery’s five team members were five individuals with their own unique ideas to solve the Vietnam Post Challenge. Yet, they managed to coalesce as a team.
The members started pitching their ideas to each other; and as a group, they critically analyzed the pros and cons of each idea. The individual differences weren’t strong enough to block an idea they had all envisioned. They became like-minded individuals – a team – who shared the same interest, the same passion, and the same goal. That was how Buslivery was developed.
“Our solution solves three problems. The first one is that the current cost for each EMS delivery is high. The second problem is that for an EMS delivery to be completed, the shipper and the receiver have to meet in person to sign for the package; this creates longer, sometimes unnecessary wait time.
The third problem is that the current EMS process can, at times, become convoluted. Our proposal to solve these problems was comprised of three key components: the city bus lines, the smart lockers, and an app,” shared An.
Buslivery’s proposal was to install smart lockers, which could only be opened with a digital key, beside the bus stops. The delivery process then could take place in a much more simplified manner. The sender would use the app to create a shipment order and then place their package in the nearest smart locker.
A bus assistant would then pick up the package and deliver it to the smart locker nearest to the destination. A notification and a digital key would be sent to the receiver so that s/he could come to pick up the package at their convenience.
An, though the youngest in the group, was chosen to be the spokesman for Buslivery’s pitch. “I was the presenter and it was my job to communicate what our team did to the judges. I was glad to have such confident and supportive team members, who believed that I was the one that could tie the idea together. I tried my best to talk to each member to ensure that what I said was what they truly meant. Though it was still an important task, I thought that I could have contributed more,” said An.
That trust paid off. An won the judges over by articulating clearly Buslivery’s idea, from the main functions, visual design, to the prototype. The Buslivery team took home a cash prize of $1,000 and an opportunity to further develop the idea with Vietnam Post.
The future starts here
When asked what he would do now that the Hackathon was over, An shared that he could not wait to start his educational journey at Fulbright University Vietnam.
“My journey to Fulbright was a bumpy one. As a LSTS alumnus, I am interested in, more or less, everything: natural and social sciences, finance, history, art, music, etc. When I graduated high school in 2018, Fulbright seemed to be, naturally, a perfect fit. Unfortunately, I found out about Fulbright just a tad bit too late: one day before the application deadline for the Co-Design Year. Therefore, it was only logical for me to go to the U.S. for college,” An shared.
Holding high hopes for a new and academically challenging environment, An felt disappointed learning that his student life in the U.S. was not as satisfying as he had expected. He thus decided to apply to Fulbright, where he had some peers taking part in the Co-Design Year.
“I plan to explore my options first. But if I could not choose a field to commit to, my contingency plan is to concentrate on data science and artificial intelligence,” An added, speaking like a true believer of the liberal arts education.
An shared that he is very excited about the newly launched Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Honestly, this is something I expected Fulbright to launch, considering the school’s commitment to innovation. I think I will have to try it out for myself to see what it is, especially its STEM side,” he added.
Tran Nhut An’s future is just starting but it appears the only way for him to go is up!