Startup Weekend Nassau — Recap

The journey of Startup Weekend Nassau began when The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approached Shift The Culture to collaborate on this project with them a few months back.

We entered this event with high hopes, as this would be the first time we would host a startup competition of this magnitude on the mainland in New Providence. Shift The Culture already had experiences organizing and running Starter Island, a similar entrepreneurial event, but we knew this would be different, in terms of size and exposure, especially since we were partnering with the IDB and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). Thankfully we were able to regroup and confirm a January 29th — 31st date, with the NAGB as the chosen venue.

From the first day, we took in the experience from the art gallery and the inspiration it provided everyone. We kicked off the first evening by getting introduced to each other and then contestants took turns pitching their ideas. By the end of the night ideas were were narrowed down, teams were formed, and the groups all began to work throughout the night on their ideas.

The teams that competed included Rydr, a mobile-based ride-sharing app designed for local transportation; R3new which aims to turn garbage/waste into art and goods to sell; Peak Time which is a social media app for digital binge-watching parties during your favorite TV shows; Swerve, a recreational go-karting facility; VacationView, a tourist destinations site that focuses on locations that offer a more authentic Bahamian experience; Bahamas Spark a Smile, a site with the goal of increasing happiness factor by highlighting favorable random encounters and New Providence City, a fast-paced municipal development catered to technology and lower government regulations.

From the beginning of Day 2 to the end of Day 3, the teams worked on their ideas. Teams made progress but also began to come across challenges they would have to solve. Some teams joined forces, some pivoted and completely went a different direction with their ideas, but all teams continued to move forward. After a few rounds of questions from mentors from the Shift The Culture community, as well as a few “gut checks” to test how strong their pitches were, teams became confident going into their final presentation on their last night of the weekend.

All teams presented in front of the audience and judges who asked the hard questions and needed to see how viable a business would be. After all the teams presented, the judges selected the top three pitches of the night. After some tough discussions and deliberation, Team Rydr came in 1st place winning the competition.

It was an amazing experience for the participants, who all learned the essentials of building a startup, in both in theory and practice, over a compressed period of time. They also learned the importance of a great team and the best ways to pitch to investors. For us as mentors, we got to watch in real-time the quick growth and refinement of the team’s ideas, business models, and pitch techniques. We all were impressed from the weekend, but I think the teams themselves were surprised to discover what they were capable of. These participants were able to come together, fluidly share their ideas, and then create teams in order to bring about those ideas.

Startup Weekend was a hit! The teams had an amazing time and learned so much on how to execute their ideas. It was a honor to be able to collaborate with each other in this fashion. It was almost surreal being able to collaborate and share ideas and within a such a creative and Bahamian environment at the NAGB. We are so glad that we are finally starting to see the growth of an entrepreneurial community with a Bahamian narrative here in Nassau and we couldn’t have had a more creative and inspiring space to work with than the NAGB.