Startup Weekend events are always guaranteed to be breathtaking experiences. Yet, it is often impossible to predict what is going to happen.
Startup Weekend Lagos was no different. As part of GEW 2014, Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), local organizers, and sponsors teamed up to bring the experience back to Lagos. It was a memorable experience for everyone involved.
Startup Weekend brings together entrepreneurs to develop prototypes of solutions to local problems in 54 hours. Business people, developers, and designers pitch ideas, form teams, build products, and present their work to a panel of distinguished judges at the end of the weekend.
Many teams continue to work together after the weekend, people find co-founders and collaborators for their next startup, etc always, lives are enriched and businesses are launched as a result.
Day 1 — Conversations, pitches and team forming
Over 50 entrepreneurs were packed at the iDEA Nigeria open space to kick off Day 1 which opened with a round table conversation with two successful entrepreneurs with interest in startups. Olumide Soyombo (LeadPath Nigeria) and Bunmi Akinyimeju (Venture Garden Group) opened the day with a round table conversation titled the journey, challenges and reward of entrepreneurship. This session was a fire starter to help set the tone for the weekend and beyond.
Next up, participants pitched the ideas that they wanted to pursue over the weekend. They had just 60 seconds to sell their concept and communicate:
- Who they are
- The problem they want to solve
- How they’re going to solve that problem
- What they need to solve that problem
- A potential name for their product
There were 17 creative ideas pitched, which cut across different problem statements, industries, and value proposition. Participants then voted on their favorite ideas. Voting was competitive and the idea proponents were busy recruiting people to join their team.
At the end of the process 4 teams emerged. The teams broke into separate spaces and started working till late at night with Uber providing free rides home.
All action, less talk
Teams rolled into iDEA early Saturday morning and got back to work. They were reminded of the three-pronged judging criteria; (1) idea validation (2) business model (3) execution and design. These three points meant that they not only cranked out product but throughout the day they talked to potential customers, to validate their concepts or re-visit their original assumptions.
At this stage, there was a lot of pruning to get the minimum viable products (MVP) developed as well as business and revenue models.
Coaches were on hand to provide advice to the teams to help refine their concepts, help them overcome hurdles or point them towards potential customers. It was good to have as coaches, people that run startups on a daily basis in order to learn from their experiences.
There was plenty of good food, drinks and desserts to keep everyone fueled.
Day 3 — Panic, and the taste of victory
By Sunday, the participants were tired and worn out, but the taste of victory (and perhaps blood) made everyone eager to finish what they started.
Again there was plenty of good food and drinks to help with the final push. Some teams were looking good but everyone still had a lot of work to do. The judging criteria was relayed again and teams were encouraged to split their tasks in order to finish preparing pitch decks and prototypes for their demos. Additional coaches were on hand to help teams fine-tune their business models and pitches.
Final presentations were to start at 5pm but by 3pm, some participants were still hacking away at their prototypes while others hid away in order to practice their pitches. It was tense!
Some participants had invited friends and family to witness their final presentation, so the room was quite full. You could sense they were happy with what they had accomplished in such a short amount of time.
The panel of judges included entrepreneurs and investors which consisted of Dr Nadu Denloye, Tomi Davies, Mobola Onibonoje, Femi Taiwo, Tayo Fagbule, Olumide Soyombo, Bassey Daniel, Toba Obaniyi. They scored the teams and provided valuable feedback to the teams and the audience who benefitted as well.
The best presentations clearly communicated the problem and how they would solve it, demoed their prototype, and addressed the business potential of their concept. The top teams were:
1st: SmartAjo — Automated contribution and settlement system, similar to local cooperative and Ajo system.
2nd: eVoting— Secure and transparent online voting/polls platform.
3rd: Homable—Curated marketplace for exquisite interior design products and designers.
Honorable mention: TINT—fastest and most affordable route to your destinations around Nigeria.
The teams automatically get 3 months free membership at the iDEA Nigeria Yaba center to continue building their product, and receive mentorship from Lagos Angel Network and Ingressive.
Organizers, Coaches, Judges and Sponsors.
Special thanks to all the local organizers, coaches, judges, and sponsors who contributed to this great event! Your contribution will make the world a better place.