It was great to have the chance to attend the first Startup Weekend event in Cairo. If you didn’t hear about this event before, then let me quote part of the description on their website.
It’s a 54-hour event where developers, coders, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together in Cairo to share ideas, form teams, build products, and create startups!
Cairo Startup Weekend is all about conquering your fears, laziness or uncertainty and work on converting your smart idea into a a real Startup in less than 54 hours. You don’t have to be a developer, designer, or a business guy to be part of the event. you just need an idea and the passion, then you will learn a lot of things in the 54 hours.
First day – April 28
The fist day started around 7:00 pm and the most important part was the pitching of ideas. Everyone who had an idea and wanted to work on converting it into a Startup during the event, had to go on stage and convince the attendees to vote for his/her idea. Everyone had only one minute to explain why his idea is awesome and can be a successful startup. This is the part when you have to conquer your fears and start asking yourself if you really believe in your idea.
As I remember, we had to listen to more than 50 ideas, and it was really hard to choose which one to vote for. We were sure that some ideas got lost after the voting. maybe because the presenter of the idea didn’t present it well or that the idea was somehow complex to understand in one minute. but still we know that most of the best ideas were selected and this was good.
The presenters of the selected ideas had then to start building their teams by convincing some of the developers, designers and business guys who were attending the event to help them convert the ideas into real startups. this was another important part of the process, as your team can kill or build your idea. one bad team member can affect the the rest of the team and delay its progress, but a small team of people who can understand each other can move smoothly toward building an awesome startup in only 54 hours.
Second day – April 29
If you woke up at 6:00 am and got ready to be the first one with your team to arrive to the American University’s new campus in Cairo where the event is hosted, then you definitely knew that you are on the right track. The continues hard work starts from here.
I was lucky enough to join an awesome team. the name of the idea and the team is Balooshy and the creator of the idea is Ahmed Essam (@Neo_4583). The idea was all about building ad platform for non-smart phones ( Feature phones ).
The number of this kind of mobile phones is very huge compared to the number of smart phones in Egypt and the Middle East. The problem with the owners of these kinds of mobiles is that they don’t like or don’t have enough money to pay for mobile internet. the suggested solution was to share the revenue with the users themselves to make them able to pay for the mobile internet service. This way, the developers who make software for these kinds of mobiles will have bigger number of users when they use the Balooshy ad platform and will get better revenue, while the users won’t have to lose money to pay for the mobile internet service. The idea had other details about the kind of vendors who will benefit from advertising on this ad network specially that the platform will be location aware and will use that information to show ads with good value to the users.
We started early working on implementing the idea and things were moving smoothly because of the great amount of understanding and passion that all the team members had. The team consisted of Ahmed Essam, Nihal Fares, Bahaa Galal, Mai Medhat and me.
All teams started working on their ideas and some of them quit early after facing some problems with finding a good team or after facing some problems with implementing the idea. Those who believed in their ideas continued working all the day and continued working till the next morning and just had a little nap to wakeup again to continue working. it was exhausting and coffee was treated like gold.
Third day – April 30
Another day, most people started getting into zombie mode after staying up most of the night working to finish their projects. Mentors were there since the second day and continued to help the teams to develop their ideas and make them better. I can’t lie, at first we were annoyed of the amount of interruptions we got whenever a Mentor come to ask us about the idea, but later we knew that each one of them helped us someway or another and we really appreciate their help.
At around 5:00 pm all teams were in the main hall getting ready to present their ideas again, but this time to the judges. every team had only 4 minutes to explain his idea again and show a prototype and explain how he can monetize it. then another minute to answer questions. This part was important as it will require good presentation skills and an organized thinking as the judges will have very hard questions about your idea and you will have to answer in a very short time.
We saw a number of great ideas and presentations, people worked very hard to grow the ideas and even some of the teams succeeded in getting new clients in that weekend.
At the end, I really found that I learned a lot of things that I wouldn’t have ever learned if I didn’t attend that event, and I met awesome people and some of the smartest and creative minds in Egypt. I know that another Startup Weekend will be soon in Alexandria my home city and I hope that I will be able to be there, and sure will love to see you there too whether in Cairo, Alexandria or anywhere on earth.
I’m sure that some videos will be soon on the awesome Egypreneur.com , also if you have some links to pics or blog posts about the event, just leave a comment and I will add them to the list.