My experience at Pakathon Toronto

By Andrew Ngui

I was excited to be a mentor at Pakathon Toronto for a few different reasons. Having just returned from the inaugural MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp at MIT in August, I wanted to share what I had just learned in person about the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework and to put it through its paces. We had also just launched our startup, Global Entrepreneurs, a diverse community of entrepreneurs from around the world with chapters founded on deep domain expertise.

Pakathon Toronto was a natural fit for us as our core mandate is to work with teams to bridge the gap from validating initial startup ideas all the way to launching the startup. Probably the best reason of all was the opportunity to work with teams to learn more about who their customers are and discover key insights about their needs and how the proposed solutions would solve them.

The atmosphere at Bitmaker Labs was electric.

The atmosphere at Bitmaker Labs was electric. The teams I met were energetic and full of purpose. Their proposals ran the gamut from large scale issues: PayPaisa’s instantaneous cross-border funds transfer leveraging the bitcoin currency cryptoexchange , a unified online education tuition platform for high school kids, United Responders, Uber for ambulances, all the way to resolving issues in the consumer marketplace: Shaadi Express, a turn-key wedding services provider and Rasté, a global online retailer for artisanal products and micro-services in trades and retail.

the challenges are more about team formation
rather than the idea itself

In working with groups, a common issue I’ve noticed is that the challenges are more about team formation rather than the idea itself and how it is so vitally important to have the right fit. As leaders, it is crucial that our team’s passion and objectives are fully aligned. And for employees coming onboard later, it is also essential that they’re a good fit with the existing team and culture. Interestingly, the teams I worked with who had a great fit ended up placing in the top spots and one with an honorable mention.

a great community-based example of how one can be
challenged to aspire to a higher purpose for a great cause

Pakathon is a great community-based example of how one can be challenged to aspire to a higher purpose for a great cause. All too soon, my session with the teams came to an end. I left with two cans of Pakcola in my pockets, wishing that I could have continued on with them on their projects and to rejoice in their success. If there was one thing I would do differently for 2015, is to definitely invest a larger chunk of time with the teams and to be more involved in the team formation process.

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