Hoards of aspiring entrepreneurs gathered at the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Building in Amman this past weekend for Startup Weekend – a 54-hour startup-designing marathon – in order to develop their startup ideas, sharpen their entrepreneurial skills, and connect with other prospective entrepreneurs.
“The mission of Startup Weekend was to bring together like-minded people and have them connect, share experiences, learn from each other, and create startups,” Mujtaba Tameemi, one of the event’s organizers, told Wamda.
The event – the third of its kind in Amman – followed the basic format utilized by Startup Weekends across the globe. On Thursday, participants pitched ideas to the collective group, voted, and formed teams around the most popular concepts. Those 13 teams then went to work conducting market research and developing business models, with the help of a crew of established mentors.
On Saturday, the event culminated with an intense round of pitching that revealed startups working in various sectors, including education, mobile, and health technology. The room was alive with nervous chatter as teams hurriedly finalized and polished their pitches, which were followed by two minutes of grilling by local judges.
Unfortunately, a majority of the teams failed to complete their pitches in the allotted time, and thus failed to paint a complete picture of their startups. Presentation slides containing crucial information such as potential revenue streams or existing competitors often went unviewed. However, given the brevity of the event (teams were not allowed to have developed business models prior to the event), most of the teams presented well-developed ideas.
“For a weekend, these guys have come up with prototypes, they’ve worked, they had presentations ready, they’ve thought their business models over, so it’s excellent,” event judge and Oasis500 investment associate, Karim Samakie, told Wamda.
First place went to the three-man team behind Droid Press, a mobile-app generator that allows users to create Android and IOS apps for their websites and blogs. People with existing websites can build an app within ten minutes using the Droid Press software, the team revealed.
Although member Khaled al-Qasrawi came up with the idea and shared it with future team members Mahmoud Jalajel and Anas al-Hamdan two months ago, the group hadn’t had time to develop the idea further. However, Startup Weekend served as the ideal catalyst for starting; due to their success, the team has now decided to continue developing the platform.
“Getting all of this positive feedback from the judges, khalas, we’ve decided to keep going. At first we weren’t very sure [about continuing to develop Droid Press], but with everyone supporting us and liking the idea, we’ll go through with it.” Jalajel said.
My personal favorite was the runner-up, e-Roshetta, a startup seeking to reduce the amount of errors in the process of prescribing medicine, which, according to the team’s research, is widespread throughout the region. Through the e-Roshetta database, doctors would electronically submit prescriptions directly to the pharmacy, which would then be picked up by the patient using a unique patient code. According to the team, this process would reduce human error and would allow patients’ medication histories to be tracked more accurately.
Third place went to B Roll, a GPS-based platform through which users seek or exchange services for payment. A one-stop-shop phone retailer won “Best Executed,” and “Best Design” went to simappz, which allows users to access their cell phone data through an online network, allowing them to make calls or restore information without physically possessing their phone.