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Zimbabwe’s first Startup Weekend took place just six months ago, at tech hub Hypercube Hub in Belgravia.  It was a brand new concept, but its goal was nothing new: exploring and developing new ideas.  The concept and platform brought together 72 eager participants who formed 11 teams that worked together over a 54-hour weekend to come up with a winning, viable business plan.  The results? Incredible!

The 11 teams developed, validated and tested fully-realized business models – companies that were ready to launch by the end of the weekend.  How realistic was all of this, given the time frame you might ask?  The answer lies in the power of cooperation.  Not only did each of the 11 teams rise to the challenge, but they also created actual working product prototypes, validated them with potential consumers, and presented a bankable product to an esteemed panel of judges.

Startup Weekend Harare organizer Jennifer Mayer says of the first Startup Weekend Harare,

“We are incredibly inspired and excited by what happened over this past weekend—the level and quality of ideas, people’s willingness to participate and share those ideas, collaborate in very concrete ways, and achieve results. The commitment of our sponsors to a relatively unknown platform was overwhelming and very positive.”

Over the course of the May weekend, Startup Weekend Harare organizers were blown away by the energy, stamina and commitment of the participants.  Lifelong friendships were made, companies were formed, technology and knowledge exchange took place and victories were shared.  Our invited guest judges, Nestle MD Kumbirayi Katsande, UMax CEO Michele Scanlon and Securico Founder and CEO Divine Ndhlukula, were similarly impressed and in the end declared Kwese Music and their K’Tamba Toys brand, Zimbabwe’s inaugural Startup Weekend Harare winning team.  The Kwese Music teammates: Tadzoka Pswarayi, Auxicillia Rabwi, Chenjerai Katanda, Gwendolene Mugodi, Kuzivakwashe Muvezwa, Kudakwashe Magwenzi, Anesu Mutazu, Jonathan Whitaker and Ngonidzashe Magwenzi took home the top prize valued at $78,000. Their business idea?  A device that turns any physical object into a musical instrument.  In the end, after hearing from all 11 teams, Kwese Music won the day with what the judges declared to be the strongest business model.

Coming in a close second was the sports betting application Money Game which presented an exciting and unique business model-sports betting on your phone- complete with app design by 15-year old team member, Tadiwa Maziwisa.  This team did well to identify a hole in the market and had great success and interest from Harare’s gambling houses, but the judges felt they failed to address the problem of how to deal with regulation.  The crowd favourite Combi Code who came in third, designed an app that helps inform and protect passengers who ride kombis.  Who doesn’t want that?!  The team were undeterred by their third place position.  Team leader Brian Chatterton responded,

“The point of the weekend was to learn how to form a business plan and pitch it. We had a fantastic idea but didn’t to sell it to the judges. We can and will learn from that. What we have gained is a battle-hardened team that works together well (even under tremendous pressure) and shares a single vision of how we are going to change the world. That’s a prize higher than any of the official prizes. I must also point out that the winning team did have an amazing physical product with a real WOW factor (and a great bunch of people). Second place was to a team which identified one of the most lucrative markets on the internet is not been served here (and also a great bunch of people).

We, on the other hand, are tackling one of the most difficult problems in modern society world-wide. Judging in terms of which is most likely to succeed as a business, which is the criteria for Startup Weekends worldwide, we do have more challenges. Third place for a social innovation concept against such strong business cases is not something to be ashamed of”.

The judges commented that they had to go with their gut in terms of what business plan would make money, be competitive and be viable as a business.  This is something critical to bear in mind for our next Startup Weekend Harare participants!

The next Startup Weekend will take place this November 21-23 at Hypercube Hub, and competitors are challenged to learn from these lessons and up their game.  The stakes are even higher this time: teams will be competing not only with others in Zimbabwe, but also with teams across the region and the world as this event will be part of Startupweekend.org’s Global Startup Battle.  What is Global Startup Battle?  Stay tuned for our next post for more details!

Want to know more about Startup Weekend Harare May 2014?  Check out this ten minute video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx42IpI7IM4&feature=em-share_video_user

 

 

 

 

 

Startup Weekend Harare