I have always said that I don’t want to be employed for the rest of my life. I want to have a business that will enable me to retire at 35 and travel the world. I want to create something so much bigger than me that it outlives me and creates a legacy. I want something that will give me lots of money eventually. And that’s what start-ups do; they are an entrepreneur’s attempt at something greater than the norm. Last Sunday I attended the Startup Weekend Pitch night. It was the climax to a number of sessions that began on Friday. A number of people came together to enable entrepreneurs to come up with business ideas, research, and generate business models to support the ideas. And on Sunday evening, they presented their ideas to a panel of judges and an audience.
The Startup Weekend’s mission was: “Inspiring change in the lives of Entrepreneurs”. It was sponsored by Bongohive, InfoDev and a number of other organisations. The judging criteria were the Execution, Business Model Validation and the User Experience Design. Each group was allowed 5 minutes to pitch and 3 minutes of questions from the judges. There were a total of 8 groups that pitched their business ideas, most of them were good but only 3 could win.
The third prize went to a group that called themselves Q-SMS. This group proposed an SMS Marketing solution to the high costs of traditional media advertisement. The target market was small retail shops like Boutiques. They were presented with a cheque of $250 and were advised by the judges to build a consumer database and target the big super markets.
The group that won second prize was Taximania. The problem identified was that finding taxis that are safe and have excellent service at an affordable price is quite difficult. Taximania’s goal was to provide a solution for that by developing web application and dispatch centre to book taxis. It was a good idea that I identified with and I was happy to see people working towards it. The sponsors presented them with a cheque of $500. They went away with the judges’ advice to find a particular niche and create loyalty in customers.
The winners of the Startup Weekend were a group called Yapa Zed. This group identified two problems with Zambian shoppers; they don’t know the health benefits of the food they are buying and Local brands are not appreciated enough. This might be due to unavailability of research data. Yapa Zed proposed to develop an application that would provide all the available data about that product when a shopper scans the barcode. This was selected as the winner because of its focus on health benefits and promotion of Zambian products. They received a cheque of $1000.
We need to move from the culture of getting an education solely for employment. We need to be more innovative and create business and social solutions. Ventures like Startup Weekend promote and enable entrepreneurs. I applaud the organisers. For photos of the event taken by Pencil Case Studios, check here.
After the presentation of the prizes, the event was closed and the food could finally be eaten. And man was it glorious! We should do this more often.