Startup Weekend is a global event facilitated by TechStars where people come together to build a business in a span of 54 hours. Ever since its inception, The Nest I/O has been hosting Startup Weekend and welcoming the fresh ideas all the budding entrepreneurs of Karachi have to offer. But this year was particularly exciting for us because we got the opportunity to conduct Startup Weekend Women and do so not once but two times.
Startup Weekend Women is a one its kind initiative wherein women (and also some men) from all walks of life come together under one roof to exhibit their ideas, develop functional business models and show the world that it really is possible to refine an idea into a potential company over the weekend.
The event kicked off with a short introductory address from Jehan Ara, The Bird Bird, followed by ‘Half Baked’, an ice breaking activity which required the participants to create and pitch a business revolving around two keywords in just eight minutes. Following this the participants individually pitched ideas which were then voted upon and out of 39 ideas 16 were shortlisted on the basis of votes. Once the ideas were on the table, everyone got to networking and teams began to form.
Over the course of the next two days the teams worked tirelessly, left no stones unturned and went from having just an idea in their heads to having a fully planned business ready to be pitched. During this entire process they were constantly being guided and mentored by members of our team as well as external coaches from diverse backgrounds who had been invited to impart their expertise. Each of them took the time to come and talk to the teams about the things they should be looking into, the potential problems they may face and gave them general pointers about starting a business.
We also had outreach partners who came in during the course of the three day event, met with the participants and got a taste of what The Nest I/O is all about while spreading the word.
Apart from this, we also arranged for some inspiring women to come and conduct speaker sessions in an effort to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in the participants. They spoke about their respective journeys, the struggles they faced and all the lessons they learned along the way. Their insights offered a valuable perspective into the mind of a seasoned entrepreneur.
When it came to the final pitches, we had a panel of four incredible women, each with numerous accolades to their name. The panel was not confined to a single field or industry with our judges hailing from different backgrounds. Our very own Jehan Ara was also amongst this panel of judges but apart from her we reached out to three other accomplished women to join her.
We were swept into a whirlwind of innovation with thirteen ideas being pitched on the final day, each unique, structured and implementable. The ideas ranged from an all female scooter hailing service operating to empower women to cloth sanitary napkins being produced with the mission of increasing awareness for menstrual health in rural communities. Among these ideas, our panel of judges awarded prizes to the top three.
Runner-up: Connect Here
2nd Runner-up: MyScooty
Despite this being the second edition within the same year, Startup Weekend Women at The Nest I/O proved that Pakistan is brimming with raw talent. We have a sea of individuals who are all set to make an impact, build an empire or just solve a simple problem. Thanks to the participants, judges, speakers, coaches and the media (Geo TV), the second edition matched and surpassed the first. Here’s to all of you, working wonders once again.