Building companies and Friendships at Startup Weekend Skopje
Although for many, weekends are reserved for relaxing, watching movies and sleeping late, for the participants of Startup weekend Skopje this one was all about hard work, expressing ideas, awakening creativity and meeting like-minded people. Visiting Skopje for the third time, Startup Weekend brought exciting encounters and interesting speakers during a “New Man’s business accelerator”.
Working under pressure
The event offered a weekend-long, hands-on experience where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs could find out if their startup ideas are viable. On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees had technical or design backgrounds, the other half – business backgrounds. They were mentored by an international group of investors and founders with years of experience, including Saša Cvetojević, the Croatian entrepreneur behind Tesla Convoy and Stephane Gantchev, from Bulgaria’s LAUNCHub seed fund.
Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees shared their best ideas and inspired others to join their team. A round of voting culled the 16 ideas pitched, to 10 which moved on to the real challenge – validation. Over Saturday and Sunday teams were focused on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building their MVP (that’s minimal viable product, in case you were thinking sports). The mentors and coaches had quite the busy agenda, giving their best to help all teams. On Sunday, participants, had the rare opportunity of being trained by the best entrepreneurs, marketing experts, startup veterans and specialists from the business on how to present their ideas quickly and effectively to investors and to customers.
The big winners; Photo credit: Creatrix Studio
In the blink of an eye Sunday evening came and it was time for that final test – the pitch. Ideas ranged from micromanagement of family budgets (MyBudget), through a planner for tournaments and conferences (TournamentPlanner and Confy, respectively), to a social network for sharing emotions anonymously (MySecret), the latter also bagging a special prize for coming up with the most shocking pitch. While all 10 teams earned a lot in experience over the two days, there could only be so many winners, and the first place went to, drumroll… Babblr, a geolocation application that recommends nearby places of entertainment. The team of 7 actually managed to go from idea to beta in less than 54 hours. They even had time for some cool design and all the functionalities for IOS and Android during the event. Very few people can brag that they’ve come up with a business plan, an actual product and a winning pitch all in one weekend.
The runners up also gave it their best – second-ranked MaxSoft Games, a trio of 18-year-olds, who won over the hearts of the audience with their hard work and dedication at such a young age, had been working on their Last Hope zombie apocalypse game for over a year. But more than their idea, the jury was impressed with how much they mangaed to grow in the space of two days. “Where they’ll go from here it’s up to them, but we promise to keep an eye on them,” said Metrilo co-founder Murry Ivanoff, part of the panel. The third place went to Build UP – an idea that hopes to help businesses retain loyal customers and attract new ones.
Busy with networking at the Startup Weekend; Photo credit: Creatrix Studio
Until the next time
In the end, however, everyone left a winner, thanks to the organizers who did a brilliant job of gathering a group of people with different backgrounds and experience in startups with one goal in mind – helping young entrepreneurs while promoting what Macedoniacan offer to the startup world. Over the course of two days they managed to build not just companies, but long-lasting friendships too. And one thing most participants agreed on in the end, was that Startup Weekend Skopje number 4 couldn’t come soon enough.