“INNOVATION WITH A TWIST”, how SAMSUNG is paving the way for Social Innovations in IRAN

 

This post is written by Alireza Omidvar, Board Member of the Iran Entrepreneurship Association (IEA).

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Iran has seen over 50 Startup Weekend events since 2012 and for the first time Samsung introduced a new theme, ”Social Innovation”, to draw attention to one the most important topics all Iranians are faced with on a daily basis. Social Challenges including Unemployment, Water Shortage and Health Issues are the main topics of most daily conversations and government announcements.

The Startup Weekends are the ideal events to involve the youth population in solving these very important social issues that haunt their own future. “Innovation with a Taste of Change”, powered by Samsung was last week’s Startup Weekend’s theme at KNTU in Tehran with the ideas on how to tackle social challenges with the use of technology. One thing was different from other Startup Weekend events; the main priority was shifted from profitability to addressing an important social problem.

The top 3 developed, Socially Innovative, ideas of this 54 hour marathon included “Bazaar-e-Man” (Persian for “My Market”) with the mission to connect marginalized communities to sell their home-made products; “Safhe” (Persian for “Page”) set an ambitious goal to sell books online with considerable discounts for the readers to help troubled publications sell their unsold books at an affordable price; “Faryad” (Persian for “Scream”) developed a web and app-based space for troubled citizens to voice their opinions on vexing social issues and find solutions with the help of their fellow citizens.
It is important to mention Samsung has initiated a new movement around Social Entrepreneurship and is planning to open a CENTER for SOCIAL INNOVATION in Tehran in 2015, so Young Students, Social Entrepreneurs and Tech Savvies come together to solve social challenges.








Five Startup Weekend Iran Events In One Weekend! (Photos)

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The Iran Entrepreneurship Association (IEA) helped put on the five Startup Weekends over 54-hours in Iran. With the goal of helping university students get more involved with starting companies and networking, Startup Weekend offers the perfect platform for experimenting and validating business ideas.

We had the biggest organizing team! About 50+ Organizers & Volunteers worked hard to make these five Startup Weekends happen. Each event had it’s own organizing team but all of them were in touch to offer support. Some of the Organizers had their first experience putting on a Startup Weekend. We had daily and weekly meetings with all of the Organizers to ensure the events went smoothly!

Check out pictures from the University of Tehran Startup Weekend Education. Click arrows to scroll through gallery (below). See more photos here. 

Watch the video:

Pictures (below) from:
Sharif University of Technology
Amirkabir University of Technology
Shahid Beheshti University
Iran University of Science and Technology – Startup Weekend Game
See more photos here. 

Thank you to everyone who supported these Startup Weekends!

Follow along with our community: @swtehran #swtehran








My Startup Weekend Journey through Iran

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In September 2012 I was notified of the first ever Startup Weekend being organized in Tehran, Iran. After reading a few lines about the event, I was sufficiently persuaded to sign up. Unfortunately, all the tickets were sold out! And I thought that this event was organized only once a year and I have to wait a long time before I can participate. However, after some queries, I discovered that the next event will be held only a couple of months later in November, during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

As soon as it was announced, I registered for the event and after traveling 1200 Kilometers from my college in Birjand (A small city of 150 thousand residence), I got to Tehran and the Startup Weekend venue. It was an amazing event whose facilitator was Rowan Yeoman from New Zealand. Everything was perfect, and it got better as I found my idea among the top ten ideas.

NOW THIS

So we began our 54 hours of exciting and challenging work on our startup and started validating our idea and building an MVP with the help of some awesome mentors. In the end, although we had an awful presentation, we still expected to be selected among the top teams!

This never happened, but regardless of the outcome I was extremely happy since I spent my whole with some energetic teammates.

WAIT NOW THIS

A lot of my friends and classmates, who followed the event online and gave me a lot of encouragement, were eagerly awaiting the details when I got back to college. They wanted to experience Startup Weekend themselves but the long distance and the cost of traveling to the capital gave them pause. Eventually we decided to organize a lite version of Startup Weekend in our college and as a prize send the winners to the next SW Tehran.

After discussing this with SW Tehran organizers they encouraged me and a few friends to come and help organize the next event in Tehran. And it was after being part of the organizing team for SW Tehran that I thought why organize a lite version of Startup Weekend in Birjand? Why not organize the actual thing!

So with the final exams approaching and with the help and guidance of our friends in Tehran, we decided to fill out an application and start preparing for the first Startup Weekend Birjand!

And it was not easy! To be honest considering Birjand’s population, our expectations weren’t high. But everybody helped out. The university hosted the event; the mayor’s office sponsored the food and refreshments. We had mentors volunteer and fly in from Tehran and nearby cities and we had 40 energetic, creative participants.

BUT there is more

After three exhausting days it was over. Miller Lab (software that simulates anesthesiology conditions for new technicians in hospitals) won first place. And we the organizing team felt victorious! It was without exaggeration the best night of my life.

Now, fast forward 6 months, Startup Weekend has spread to 10 different cities in Iran and I am proudly facilitating SW Ahvaz (a city in southwest Iran). It’s great to be part of  the national and global startup community and I owe all these great experiences to Startup Weekend.

Thank you startup weekend!