By Alejandra Luzardo
A panel of judges selected the best projects from those presented during the weekend.
An app to facilitate donating online (Mobile Donate) and a system to take advantage of spoiled foods (Nourish TT), were the winners of the Startup Weekend to Improve Lives. The event was carried out June 12-14 at Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) and was organized by local entrepreneurs. We here at Interamerican Development Bank support such important initiative that reinforce our goal to Demand Solutions to improve lives.
During 3 intensive days, I had the opportunity to observe and collaborate, as a mentor, for the young entrepreneurs that were organized into 11 teams to develop their innovative entrepreneurial projects. It was just wonderful to feel the passion, enthusiasm and energy that was in the air!
When I said the participants were young, I should have added “at heart”, because among the participants (who were for the most part between 21 and 50) there was one grandma that even made a pitch and put together a team.
The event began with an inspiring discourse given by Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Sustainable Planning and Development, Bhoendradatt Tewarie, who told participants and collaborators: “Imagination is a human being’s most valuable resource and with it there are no limits as to what may be accomplished. We need all ideas, even crazy ideas, to change our country.”
His reflection is that the dynamics of these Startup Weekends help us grasp new ideas that are so relevant in order to find different solutions for Trinidad and Tobago’s challenges. He commented on how the economy has increased by just 5% in the past 100 years and surprised us by adding: “so we don’t have to wait another 100 years, we need all your crazy ideas.”
During this first shift half of the entrepreneurs pitched their ideas and 11 teams were formed:
- Untouched Tobago
- Premier Society
- Studee Monkey
- Go Up
- What Next
- Community Sou Sou Fund
- Nourish TT
- Mobile Donate
I felt so privileged to be able to spend time with other mentors from World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Compete Caribbean, The University of West Indies (UWI), Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), the IDB and a group of the island’s distinguished public figures.
The panel of judges was comprised of Tomás Bermúdez, our representative in the country, Ignacio L. De León (from IDB’s Competition and Innovation Division), Kasper Birkeholk Munk (Teknologisk Institut’s Team Leader), Derrick Lewis (Managing Director of ISLANDpeople) and Debora Cumberbatch (CEO and founder of Tower Industries). After 54 hours of exploring innovations,the event came to an end and the judges selected the winning projects.
The Mobile Donate and Nourish TT teams received the prize: the opportunity to form part of the REACH Caribbean Innovation Competition (CIC), a contest and regional startup accelerator for young entrepreneurs. With financing from IDB, the REACH program is carried out by the The University of West Indies with collaboration from World Intellectual Property Organization and Young Americas Business Trust. The winning teams of this event will receive coaching and support to accelerate their business ideas.
Each of the 11 ideas presented focused on solutions to improve people’s lives. The proposals included initiatives such as electric generators powered by water vapor and a communication system for people living in remote areas.
“Sharing the energy and creativity of these entrepreneurs has been a very enriching experience for the BID. For many of the participants it was their first time going through the process of thinking of a project, convincing their partners, developing it, and defending it before a panel of judges. It was a phenomenal experience for them and this is the aspect of these gatherings that we cherish the most, and of course the possibility of generating proposals to improve lives in Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean,” indicated Tomás Bermúdez, IDB representative. Other important supporters included: Google for Entrepreneurs, .CO, Amazon and Coca Cola.
This year, BID will organize 6 open Startup Weekends throughout the region, that will allow us to continue transmitting the spirit of innovation in Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Brazil. Here you can find more information on all our activities for this year.
Our alliance with UpGlobal and Techstarts has allowed us to use the Startup Weekend method with the theme: “Improving Lives” and incorporate it in Demand Solutions, an open innovation model through which IDB aims to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, to help make the Bank a key partner in providing innovative solutions, working alongside governments, the private sector, learned society, the community and the youths in the region.
As part of the IDB, it is a great responsibility and a great honor to be part of these conferences that are full of innovation and entrepreneurship and that aim to support the creation of new ideas that can change and improve our world. Who wouldn’t like a better world?