STARTUP WEEKEND GEORGETOWN@USM 2017 RECAP

 

Startup Weekend Georgetown@USM was held on the 17th, 18th and 19th of November, 2017 Universiti Sains Malasyia (USM) Main Campus, Penang. The event was organized by IEEE USM Student Branch in collaboration with Startup Campus Asia and MaGIC. Startup Weekend is a global event held in over 135 countries that focuses on creating startup companies in the duration of a weekend, or 54 hours. The event has helped create many successful startups such as Carousell, proving that simple ideas can turn into lucrative business.

On the first day, participants registered at the School of Computer Science meeting room and were introduced by Malcolm Wu, who was the facilitator for the entire three-day event. Malcolm started the event with some fun ice-breaking activities to help the participants get to know each other and mingle around. Later on, Johnson Lam, Founder of KakiDIY gave a talk about his experience in entrepreneurship and how he went through many challenges that motivated him to never give up. A mock ‘Startup’ pitching was held where each group of participants had to choose two random words from a list and use both words to create a company name and idea. Wacky wording was the result as imaginary companies such as ‘Naked Cow’ and ‘Paper Movie’ were presented in detail by each group. Lastly, the real pitching session had arrived. Six ideas were presented and four were voted by popularity among the participants. Before the event ended for the night, the idea pitchers had to go around and explain their ideas to everyone and form a team.

The next day, after breakfast, the four teams started their work. One of the first tasks each team did was to create a survey and ask the public about their opinions on problems regarding the pitch ideas that will hopefully solve them. Some participants from each group went out to gather data for the survey. As USM Main Campus is situated in the heart of Penang, there were many locations that proved useful for carrying out surveys. Participants went to bustling restaurants such as McDonald’s, KFC and Golden Phoenix. Tesco was also another location as many shoppers were present during the weekend. After gathering valuable information from the public, the groups did evaluations and discussed how their startups could solve the end user’s problems. There mentors present were Mei Tan, Bryant Gan, Nazlina Quadir, Ray Beh, Dr Caren Lee, Richard Gan, Choo Geng Qian and Tan Mei Chuin. They helped each group by giving feedback on what to improve and add to the startup ideas. Each mentor had their own experiences from different backgrounds that were implemented into the group’s startup ideas. In the evening, a mock ‘Judging’ session was held with the mentors as judges. This was to help the groups prepare for the real judging the next day.

The final day that everyone was waiting for had finally arrived. It was judging day and participants were nervous but at the same time excited. Elvin Lee, Howie Chang, Saiful Rizal and Caroline Fong were the judges. Each team was given five minutes to pitch their startup and three minutes for the Q&A session from the judges. The teams have to successfully ‘reel in’ the interest of the ‘investors’ (in this case, the judges) to invest in their company. In the end, all startup ideas are excellent, and everyone is a champion, however for formality, the team to win was KEBUN.COM, with Thrift Central being awarded as ‘Most Viable Business Plan’. iConfinement.com and TutorMuda won 1st runner-up and 2nd runner-up respectively. The event closed with group photos and post-event chit-chat.

Overall, Startup Weekend is a terrific way of boosting potential entrepreneurs who are seeking guidance and experience. It has become a global platform where unique talents and minds collaborate to bring the next breakthrough startup.