The StartUp Weekend Doha Experience

How things gonna be in SW Doha, a write up to encourage students and entrepreneurs.

Hello to all my fellow Startup enthusiasts,

It might’ve happened to a lot of us , “The Expact” thing?

It was two months ago when I came to Qatar. Well, a completely new experience meeting a set of diverse people at a time. The first day in Qatar, I started searching for Meetups in this area, unfortunately there were not so many what I was looking for. I mean there were no or less meetups happening for ‘Software Professionals’ as we can assume Gulf countries to be more concrete on Construction side. Days passed but my search was still on.

Mean while I’ve joined most of the activities group which interests me like the Football , Volleyball and other social gathering meetups. But, I was still hungry to meet like minded software professionals. Then, this happened.

As I was actively searching it on FB too , one day , Finally! FB suggested me of SWDoha2016 and I was really excited about how it would be in Gulf.

It was organised by Hamad Bin Khalifa University , Qatar Development Bank ,

Qatar Foundation and obviously Startup Weekend has its own sponsors.

Then, ‘The Day’ came, I was so excited , that I registered at the event 30 mins before the registration time was given, unlike 1 hr after ,as I usually do in India for such events :). I registered my self and was waiting for it to be started .

A great welcome note by QDB’s CEO , continued with the ‘go get it’ notes by the sponsors and mentors and finally the event kick started.

As the regular participants would know how the StartUp weekend goes, as for those who don’t please read the entire para. First, al of the participants were encouraged to write a word on a ‘sticky note’,requested that note to be posted onto the side walls in the auditorium . Then, event starts with forming groups ,here, we’re divided into month of birth, and eventually formed 4 groups from Jan-Mar, Apr-June, Jul-Sept, and Oct-Dec. I was in the second group. Then fingers were raised to select the leader among the group, to my excitement, they selected me, as their leader. :). Then , the leaders were requested to pick one sticky from the walls, quite possibly , random note,or some specific, as long as the leader have some wisdom.

I randomly selected a sticky,it that had “No Worries” written on it. The next part was to brainstorm for a business idea with that word which I’ve selected . Quite impressively, we’d almost 4 ideas in matter of 15 secs , see you can say my group was really great! We’ve got almost 2 mins to strip down to one idea and pitch it after 2 mins. We rushed to the boards and noted all the ideas on it, then a little about idea was discussed by each of the team member. As the note we got was ‘No Worries’ the ideas were pretty close to that, I’ll write those ideas too.

  1. Govt. applications are quite cumbersome process, so one was to handle all the Govt. applications from a simple license — Visa applications all at a place.
  2. Marital counselling,
  3. Holiday Planner ,
  4. Food reviews and listings so that one can satisfy the tummy without worrying to go from hotel to hotel,

After reviewing all the ideas, we’ve selected the 1st one for obvious reasons that it had a lot ,what we’re looking for ,’No worries’. Clock tickles so fast and 2 mins escalated quickly. The groups were instructed to pitch what they’ve got in those 2 mins. To my excitement, the other groups were also awesome in getting their ideas on stage, and, that ended quickly as each group was given 60 secs to pitch.

After that little exercise , we’re then headed to the next thing, the main part we’d say, ‘independent pitches’. Each participant has an opportunity to pitch their next startup idea. Again, given 60 sec to pitch . Even I ended up screwing the pitch in no time, keeping the microphone away from my mouth ending up echoing the auditorium [ I later got feedback, about how, I screwed my pitch :)]. Pitches ended quite quick, having a lot of business ideas to decide from [ to vote] . There’re almost 18–20 ideas from around 50 participants, that were again posted to a wall, and we’ve to vote for the 10 most liked one to get the event going. As part of the process, the participants were again instructed to take three sticky’s from their tables and write their own name on those three, then, post it on top on the ideas,the most liked three,that’re already on wall.

Ten were selected after a 15 mins activity of sticking the best ones. The anchor called the most voted ideas in increasing order to votes given. The ideologists can then tell the participants about their requirements ,about, members background that’d be needed to make the idea to initiate. I partially remembered the ideas, though , I will try to remember them.

  1. The Startup House,
  2. E-Kart,
  3. Wain,
  4. Ahlan Gifts,
  5. Mobile Nursery,
  6. ZiOT,
  7. Qatar Tutorials [I joined this group later, as software developer] ,
  8. Karage [ Garage] ,
  9. Some sort of Internship platform, apologies[to the team ] for not remembering ,

Wow! I do have a good memory to forget the last one.

The leftover participants were free to join the ideas selected. I joined the 7th one Qatar Tutorials as that was really what i wanted since years and have quite a lot experience in the concept itself. I offered , the ideologist behind that quickly said yes .

From here, the content would be particular to how our team managed to blueprint the entire idea to a business model.

As said, I joined Qatar tutorials, excitement became more compelling, my team consisted of one Business student and 2 Computer Science students, and later one more Business PG joined. We’re now completely sketching the whole thing with respect to many perspectives , Students, Teacher and knowing the Expat things for the ease for idea implementation. Two days escalated with a lot of experience talking to mentors, taking feedback on paper, survey from the target groups,helping hands to other fellow groups, exchanging feedback , each and every situation was analysed to fit it into a good business model, even the non-business people started talking about business, each feedback was important. Mentors were really a great part of these events, their experience about the markets and their perspective is so real that we’d really have to give a second thought about the business model what we’re building. Each day ended by assigning a part of work to every member in group.Some of the mentors :

Then the 2nd day ended, we’ve decided to meet at 12 pm the last day, as departed with works to do , I’ve got a lot to work, I mean build a working prototype in some hours. Aah, that was really an exhausting night to be honest , believe it or not , have to do it, and that too in time.

A lot discussions on whatsapp ,I’ve started my work, sending and getting thoughts on each part of my work, hours passed and I was ready with a prototype to present in front of judges[though, it was really nothing , in respect to the technological implementation], but was enough to give a brief idea about the flow and user experience of the product. Not to forget the other members efforts, they’re also continuously working to make it happen, from ppt’s to business canvas , alternative paths legal ways.

Here are the Screenshots of one sleepless night :)

Pretty much workable iOS App

The final day arrived, naturally everyone was excited and nervous for obvious reasons. We’ve had 2 hours to final pitch, so were discussing the flow and dividing the minutes allotted for each of us, ending up , with 1 minute for intro , 30 secs for product tour and rest for our business approach. The presentation went great, with judges throwing questions and feedback.One said about the already existing ideas and we’ve missed our USP , ending up , an unconvinced panel member. continued with a lot other proto’s and business models from other groups.

Then, there was complete silence and excitement for about half an hour or so,the judges were out for the final decision.

After some 45 minutes , the silence broke with a note by one of the sponsors. Motivating the participants to keep going no matter you win or loose, because that’s not the end,that’s ‘the start’. ‘Truth has been spoken!’ situation.

The results were declared :

  1. Ahlan Gifts
  2. Wain
  3. Karaj

As said winning or loosing doesn’t stop something, it starts!

I would be glad to see comments and feedback on this post.

That really was a great experience , I’ll have to carry in my journey.

Thank you Qatar Development Bank,Qatar Foundation and Startup weekend Doha. To the mentors and to the panel. That was the best tailored experience I’ve had in Qatar.

P.S : If I have missed something,comment below and we could change it.