Rabat: StartUp Weekend — Part 3, The Celebration
This was the highlight of the weekend. Maybe even for the entire Social Sabbatical, thus far.
The final presentations and awards for StartUp Weekend in Rabat were on Sunday. In these presentations, the teams had only a few minutes to present their business proposition, review any validation they received, show their prototype and take questions from the jury.
We saw my friends from the Agro Dome team, whom I wrote about in the last post, present their StartUp. They did a nice job of summarizing their business plan, including the following:
- Estimating an immediate identifiable market of 25,000 farmers or merchants.
- Validating from 18 or 20 farmers and vendors they spoke to who are interested in the offering.
- Developing a price of 1800 DHAs ($180 USD).
For their prototype, or the Bebe’ Agro Dome, as they called it, they built a small version with component parts and Tupper Ware. This helped demonstrate the concept and develop the idea further.
Another team, Meni Refri, was led by a captivating speaker, Kyle, a Chinese exchange student. He presented their idea for artisan clay pots, which can be used for refrigeration, and could be sold to hotels. They found a local craftsmen and built a sample fridge to demonstrate the concept. The jury followed up with questions on their market validation, trying to understand how the team had tested this concept in the market.
After the pitches, the jury gathered in the same deliberation room as Friday night, and we were allowed to sit in again. The jurists voted on the best overall StartUps. The deliberations were intense as the jurists discussed and deliberated their favorites and the best plans. Finally, they came up with a winner.
A big part of StartUp Weekend is celebrating accomplishments. The emcee, Hamid, did a great job of creating a high excitement level in the room in anticipation of the award ceremony. This was the scene when we returned to the auditorium after the jury deliberations were completed.
Lyly, Bruno and I had the honor of announcing the third place winner. Here’s Lyly making that announcement.
I had mentioned one of the younger pitchers, Abdullah Chebli, from my first post. Eleven years old, he had delivered a strong pitch, and had assembled a successful team. His project was Forest Guard, a system of forest sensors and drones that identifies forest fires and calls in for assistance after validated. Abdullah’s team received some first place votes, and they came in a close, strong third place.
The crowd, and the team, were ecstatic. Abdullah’s mother was there, and came down to give him a big hug. She was so proud. The whole room was proud, chanting “Forest Guard, Forest Guard!”.
Finally, the winning team, was announced. The Agro Dome team took the championship. The celebrations erupted again. Seeing the pure joy from the winning team was wonderful and very emotional to witness.
Celebration is a big part of what StartUp Weekend seeks to accomplish with these events. This is a celebration of the their ideas, and to let them know they have the support of this room, and of other entrepreneurs in Morocco. Through celebration, these young people build confidence in their ability to pitch and develop their ideas. The pitcher from the Agro Dome team wins a trip to Istanbul for the Global Entreprenurial Congress in April. He wins, but and all of the young entrepreneurs win, and in time, Morocco wins.