The young participants proved themselves to be on the same page with their older colleagues when it comes to crafting ideas, developing prototypes and solving problems. Juggling with school, homework and an exciting weekend, the students – the youngest only 15 years of age – gathered in the halls of the Presidential Palace where the weekend kicked off. Next to Matija Goljar’s (leader of the entrepreneurial organisation Ustvarjalnik) inspiring opening speech, also the President of Slovenia Borud Pahor had some encouraging words for the participants and soon after the short presentation of Anže Lisac (founder of 3fs.si) on what entrepreneurship means, the students already started to pitch their ideas – for which they only got 60 seconds. Then it was the audience’s turn – out of the 37 projects on stage they had to choose the best to compete further.
No pain, no gain
Over the next two days, sleep was the last thing the young participants had in mind as they immediately started forming teams and getting their hands-on. Throughout the weekend, the students worked through pitching trainings, took part at mentoring sessions or received additional boosts by, for example, lectures from Mario Benić’s (co-founder of gremonaparty.com) who advised them: “Educate yourself, smart is the new sexy – don’t wait and start immediately!”
Pitching at the Presidential Palace
On Sunday it was already time for the pitching session and it sure was hard for the jury to choose the best out of all the promising ideas. There were social games, portable projectors, wireless keyboards, wireless speakers, mobile apps and so on. But the hard work during the 54-hours was a worthy experience and some of the teams even produced their first prototypes and proudly presented them on stage. “The participants were encouraged to develop a physical products if possible, and not only work on vague idea in mind,” explained Nik Lorbeg, a mentor of Ustvarjalnik.
Also the Slovenian President Borut Pahor who accompanied the whole startup weekend as an honorary patron was impressed by the energy on stage. “This is the future, the future lies in youth and entrepreneurship, we should support youth and need not worry about them as they already have the solutions,” Pahor told inventures.eu
Try to walk in jury’s shoes
President Borut Pahor with the winners “THIS”; Photo credit: Ustvarjalnik
When it was time for the evaluations suspense and excitement was in the air. The jury consisting of Boštjan Špetič (CEO at Zemanta ltd.), Anja Renko (co-founder of tooniaapps.com) and Peter Ribarič (managing director of the investment fund silicongardens.si) had to choose winning projects in the categories: the best idea, the best pitch, the best productand the best social impact.
Eventually, the project called “THIS”, a low-priced air conditioner made of two wooden boxes and aimed at students who live in dormitories, won the best pitch and the best idea award while the mobile app called “Two Dance” that helps you to find a dancing partner was named best project for social impact. The award for the best product went to “Somnisafe” – an automated pillow that simulates a mother’s heartbeat and breathing, creating a feeling of safety for the child, kind of like a big hug would feel.
Overwhelming impressions at the biggest youth startup event in Europe
The startup weekend ended as it started, with a feeling of excitement and a snowstorm. While the young participants benefited from their experience and were able to make new friends and contacts, the President and the organisers were glad and proud of the successful weekend at “the biggest youth startup event in Europe held in an exclusive venture – the Presidential Palace,” closed Matija Goljar.