Startup Weekend: Ideas become high growth startups in under 54 hours

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[As featured in TimesofMalta and several other online news portals]

The hardest part of creating a new company is knowing whether the idea is any good and creating a business model for it. Knowing whether you are creating a solution to an actual problem, and whether your solution can earn you money is not easy. Getting to real answers needs support and processes. Malta has Startup Weekend to deliver just that.

For the fourth time, Malta will be hosting the international event, Startup Weekend, in collaboration with the Malta Communications Authority. “Startup Weekend is a Google powered programme where ideas become high growth startups in under 54 hours,” the organisers said.

“Every year, the event attracts individuals of different ages with a wide range of backgrounds. Developers, designers, marketing, sales, you name it. This blend of people, together with ideas creates a perfect ambiance for startups to become a reality,” according to Startup Weekend organiser Simon Azzopardi.

Simon continued, “this year’s event however, is looking to be even bigger and bolder. Every year we involve mentors and judges who add a lot of support to the startups over the weekend. This year, startup teams will be mentored by leading angel investors from Berlin and Silicon Valley, accelerators, pitch doctors, and successful entrepreneurs. Names such as Amazon, AOL and Seedcamp, are flying in for the occasion from as far as Singapore.”

“The MCA is very excited about this event as it is a model that has been applied with great success, both abroad and in Malta. Moreover, we strongly support what is happening in the startup space. Events such as these fully reflect the MCA’s vision and activities that are aimed at spurring entrepreneurial flair and a change in mindset towards economic growth,” said an MCA spokesperson.

Anton Bartolo, director for Corporate Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Malta, Gold sponsor and host of the events said, “TAKEOFF seeks to help Maltese Startup Community grow. It is very important to have international startup events organised in Malta, which bring foreign talent in terms of teams as well as mentors to enrich local entrepreneurial culture. TAKEOFF is proud to host this exciting event, and we augur that it will generate new high-growth start-ups that may seek our support to improve their growth prospects.”

David Vella, CEO of Altaro and sponsor of Startup Weekend commented, “Altaro used to be a startup. We know that early days are tough, but we also know that it was worth it. We continue to support Startup Weekend as we believe that creating a vibrant startup community is essential for Malta to have more success stories.”

It all gets underway at 6pm on Friday, when participants can pitch an idea or simply listen to others pitch theirs. Once all that is done, voting takes place on which ideas to work with. This is followed by formation of teams to work on these ideas.

Then at 10pm everything kicks off. The high profile mentors coach and collaborate with team members. The aim here is to present one’s startup to investors and judges on Sunday.

“It is super interesting when you see lawyers, accountants, doctors with sometimes great ideas, knowing nothing about software, pitching their solutions to problems. Moreover, it’s great seeing future entrepreneurs, even if no ideas are pitched, take these ideas and make them great,” said Simon.

“In past events, we had entrants travel from Germany, Italy, Spain and India. Results have shown that this mix of background and cultures adds another layer of excitement and energy into the room,” he said.

“The beauty of startup weekend is that the idea, though it has value, is not everything. Uber is a taxi service. Groupon is a deals site. The trick is how it’s done, and startup weekend shows you the ropes.”

The event, happening from the 17th – 19 July is being hosted by TakeOff Incubation Centre at the University or Malta, in partnership with the MCA and sponsored by Altaro.

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