Mentoring at Startup Weekend Dubai 2011

Picture: Danish Farhan (2nd from left) with Kamal Hassan, Anas Bukhash, Muna Al Gurg and Tariq Amin

We’re super excited to have witnessed Dubai’s first Startup Weekend–featuring an incredible bunch of entrepreneurs from the city under one roof for 54-hours. Our CEO Danish was invited to mentor selected teams to define, refine and present a pitch-perfect presentation to an illustrious panel of judges that include PK Gulati, Noura Al Kaabi, Najla Al Midfa and Abdul Basit Al Jenahi.

It must be said that the sheer passion of every single one of the (65 original ideas, shortlisted to) 21 teams was infectious, and dare we say, unprecedented in Dubai. Ideas ranged from home-made Emirati cuisine to a portal to outsource your woes when moving homes in Dubai. While all ideas were digitally driven, some relied more heavily than others on it, which was refreshing. Business models were plenty, prototypes not so much. The idea was to present a prototype of the business idea, honed by mentors, with a basis premise of the business to the judges in under 5 minutes.

The (Many) Winners

The winners were Golazo–a social network for amateur football players and fans, Giftastic–social gifting service, and Hassle Free–a relocation service that takes over the chores while moving houses in the UAE. The prizes were AED 25K, 15K and 10K for each of the top 3 winners.

Besides a list of 6 ‘honorable mentions,’ Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Fund for Entreprise Development pitched in with a $5K prize for two ‘most innovative’ ideas–Mindtalk focused on women in MENA to become part of events, and Rabbit Hole–a fashion website that helps fashion enthusiasts become designers.

But the real, and very unexpected, icing on the cake was the announcement from Dubai SME to award each of the 21 teams a one-year startup incubation from the Government of Dubai, including free office space and funds to cover setup costs. How awesome is that?

All in all, it was an event worth remembering as one that put a whole different spin on how young entrepreneurship will shape itself in the next few years. Well done Deem Al Bassam, Sara Falaknaz and Kamal Hassan.

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