“Excitement is Contagious” said David Coleman a Canadian entrepreneur while he explained to me how one of the companies he was promoting works. “People will follow you if your sincere and excited enough about an idea.”
That phrase stuck with me over the years, I hadn’t heard anything like that before. I kept wondering to myself why no one taught me that in school or in a workshop. I wondered if there were others like David here in the Middle East. Then I met Habib Haddad.
Founder of successful Yamli.com, Arabic-English transliteration tool we’ve covered since it’s launch in 2009. But that’s not all Habib has to be proud of, he’s also the co-founder of YallaStartup a community and platform that solely exists to support startups.
I was fortunate enough to meet Habib in Amman during the MENA ICT Forum where he explained to me his vision and how he wants to change the Middle East by creating what he called “an atmosphere that facilitates serendipity”.
Startup Weekend is a not-for-profit that gives entrepreneurs a 3 day crash course in building startups. Day1 is matching talent and creating teams (if they don’t join as a team to begin with), day 2 is for design & development, and day 3 is pitching the idea and competing with the other participants.
So basically it’s an Entrepreneurial slumber party with adrenaline instead of pajamas, and a startup battle instead of pillow fights.
And since it’s global, it happens over a given weekend in 13 cities simultaneously. To get an image of just how massive that is, you should know the show up in Beirut alone was around 250 participants that launched 34 startups in 3 days. It’s mind-blowing I tell you.
Addressing participants, the founders said “this event is not a competition but about living the life cycle of a startup in just one weekend! It’s about getting interest for your idea, matching you with co-founders and team members, and showing each and every one of you what you are capable of.”
The most amazing part of it, is the fact the winners from the 13 cities went head to head with their startups by posting a video describing their startup, which was then voted on and the winner was decided after a couple of days. Guess who dominated the Global Startup Weekend scene? Beirut.
One of Beirut’s very own startups called Mimix, a platform to translate all languages into whatever sign language dialect the user chooses, implemented through a graphical representation of hand signs. People who need to speak sign language won’t need to speak any other language if using Mimix.
The runner ups to for the Beirut competition were Capsu.ly a free infinite community based storage solution, and Hintout a social platform that revolves around activities & going out. You can read the full coverage of YallaStartup Weekend here.
We wish all participants the best of luck and will continue to let you know which of them actually turn into money-making startups in the near future. Check out the Mimix elevator pitch video.
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