Akram Dweikat is one of the organizers behind an initiative for startups in Nablus. Here he elaborates on the winners and successes of the program.
Startup Weekend is a global phenomenon active on the entrepreneurial scene in more than 100 countries. It is centered on city-based events which act as a platform that enables developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts to come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups.
On January 24, Startup Weekend came back to Nablus in Palestine for the second time. This year, the event took place at Al-Qalaa City in Nablus for the duration of three days with an attendance of more than 150 participants and guests. The event was organized by the Google Development Group (GDG) club at An-Najah National University.
Participants pitched 41 entrepreneurial ideas from which 17 were chosen through direct voting by the participants, who then went on to form 17 teams. Each team targeted transforming one idea into a startup during the course of three days.
Here’s a list of the top five:
1st place: Bi-Basata (Tawjihi Tutoring)
A website targeting Tawjihi (national high school pre-university examination) students in Palestine, which provides online courses, tutorials, and public questions forum, with visual and media content to simplify the explanations and the covered materials.
2nd place: Fareqi (means ‘my team’ in Arabic)
A mobile and Facebook application that enables its users to follow the latest sport news and specify favorite teams and receive customized notifications, in addition to match times and results.
3rd place: “Marry Me”
A game that aims to entertain and educate people. The main focus is to introduce the players to the culture and traditions of other countries – in particular marriage customs. The premise of the game is to help the groom find his bride from other countries.
4th place: Aelia Key (tourism guide)
A mobile application that aims to help tourists and visitors re-discover historical sites in Jerusalem using QR code technology. It does so by providing them with detailed and accurate information for these sites on the spot. The application can also connect to the Internet to provide further information and media content, including a detailed map of the visited places.
5th place: iTranslate
A mobile application that facilitates instant translation for conferences in multiple languages through translation services streaming.
After the event we got the chance to sit down with Dr. Samer Arandi, one of the organizers:
AD: What do you think of events like Startup Nablus?
Samer: “These events are important as they enable the participants to take their first and most important step towards realizing their ideas. They get a hands-on experience in creating a business plan, concept designs and in many cases a working prototype of their idea. The participants also get a chance to get their idea/plan/prototype evaluated by leading experts in the various related fields.”
AD: What motivated you to organize it?
Samer: “The first time we organized this event, we were motivated by the general lack of such much-needed entrepreneurial events in the area. We were trying out something new and we were hoping for the best. However, the success of this first event and the positive effect it had over the participants and the momentum it generated in the local community made us more determined to hold the event again.”
AD: What outcomes do you expect?
Samer: “The overall outcome is energizing the entrepreneurial scene and planting the seeds for potential future entrepreneurs/startups. Some of the winning teams proceed to receiving some form of funding or support, or at least get a chance to be exposed to potential investment and support. On the other hand, for some, this event represents a first inspiring step on a long path, where they get valuable feedback, increase their contact network and develop their vision and perfect their plans.”
AD: Tell us about the participants’ gender and background?
Samer: “We had more than 200 registered applications from all over Palestine, however, due to the limited available seats, we were only able to accept 120 participants, 20 of them were Palestinians living inside the green line and the rest from the West Bank. More than 45% of the participants were females and a large part were students and the rest professionals from local companies. The attendants were a mix of Software Developers, Graphic Designers and Business & Marketing professionals.”
The Startup Weekend Nablus event was organized by Google Developer Group Nablus (GDG Nablus) club at An-Najah National University. The organizing team consisted of Dr. Samer Arandi, Akram Dweikat, Mohammed Abu Aisha, Belal Qaddara and Ahmad Saqfalhait with the support of many other GDG members.
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