Startup Weekend in Prague is here again already this Friday, and we’re sure you can’t wait until you jump in and build your teams to eventually win the competition. But wait, what do the teams compete for? Our fabulous prizes of course! So let’s take a look at those.
If your team manages to make it to the top three teams in our competition, you can be looking forward to being rewarded by amazing material prizes from Asseco, and Startup Jobs credits worth 2,000 CZK. Hurray!
Our 2nd best team, although very close to winning, will definitely have no reason to despair, for they will be given not only the prizes from Asseco and 2,000 CZK of Startup Jobs credits, but also really cool T-shirts and stickers by ReactiveConf. Yeah!
And for the champions of our race, there’s a whole bunch of terrific stuff – Asseco prizes, Startup Jobs credits worth 5,000 CZK, Angel Academy entry for the whole team worth 2,500 CZK, ReactiveConf T-shirts and stickers + a unique chance to present the idea at their event, and last, but not least, a three months membership Flexi (80 hours per month) by Sněmovní 7 for each team member. Cheers!
Apart from these terrific prizes for our winning teams, all the attendees will be also given all the equipment needed to transform their ideas into reality (writing tools, post-its, canvases, etc.), as well as the endless food, beverage and good mood supplies (coffee of course included) for the best boost of the working process possible.
Hello John! Thank you for your time to share a piece of the latest info. At the last Startup Weekend in Prague, your team managed to knock the judges’ socks off with an application dubbed “Typo App,” which aims to teach people foreign languages in a very practical and entertaining way while putting emphasis on mastering the given language’s script. What exactly does lie behind this success?
Hi! I think the judges liked us because we reminded them right at the beginning of our presentation how boring it was in primary school to write the same letter over and over again until one knew how to do it. Everyone has been through this and so we were able to make the problem tangible. In the next slides we managed to step up our game by showing that Chinese or Japanese signs are a lot more complicated.
Our solution was easy – the Typo App teaches you to write in and interactive and fun way. An important factor was also the fact that we gave an iPad with a demo version to the judges so they can try it out themselves. The other presentations had only a passive audiovisual concept. We actively engaged them. I think that helped us to stand out.
Also, we had a pretty clear idea about what we wanted to do and we started working on it as early as Friday evening. That gave us a lot of room for validation and development on Saturday and the presentation prep on Sunday. If we pivoted on Saturday evening like some teams in the course of such weekends do, we would not have had the time to finish.
On your official website it is stated that you are launching the app soon; when can we actually expect the official release? Alternatively, what stage of the development process are you currently at?
I think May or June 2018 is pretty realistic. We have the design, development is at about 60 %.
What phase of the development process do you personally find the most challenging?
I cannot say much about the technical aspect because Swift, where we do the app’s programming, is pure magic to me. The product itself is relatively straightforward. We had an idea, iterated quickly and came up with a, in my opinion, nice design. The real challenge will be the release of the project and getting the product to the target audience.
Apart from Typo App, you also work as a designer in Spaceknow, which is a company focusing on obtaining info from satellite pictures. Tell me, how did such a young person as you manage to get this position?
I had to fight for it 😀 SpaceKnow hired me two years ago, that was when I had just turned twenty. When I saw that they are looking for someone for user experience, I knew that I did not have good odds to get in but it would be a pity to not to try anyway. I told myself that I need to attract their attention, because my portfolio consisted at that time only of a couple of smaller web pages and two somewhat well-known clients. Normally, they would not give someone like me a second thought.
I sat down in front of a camera and shot a five minute video where I talked super-passionately about why I wanted to work with them on their space technology. It was a bit awkward but it demonstrated my enthusiasm that cannot be conveyed in an email. That opened the door to an interview where I got a test task – redesigning a part of a web app.
I spent a whole weekend on it. I tried to produce the best possible result. In the end, I redesigned part of the app and also made an interactive prototype, where I redesigned the app completely. They liked the redesign and gave me a chance, and I have been working there ever since.
How did you profit from participating at the last Startup Weekend in Prague?
I learned how to better structure the workload in a smaller team when there is an aggressive deadline. Also, starting to work with Ondra Gonzor was awesome. He is much younger than me but unbelievably intelligent and talented. He is programming the Typo App. He also worked with Honza Sláma on a project called Don’t let it be (Nenech to být) that focuses on fighting bullying. Moreover, we now have contact information on interesting and experienced people from EdTech.
Overall it was a pleasant experience. SWP had a great venue, amazing mentors (shoutout to Pavlína Louženská) and a good, intensive feel to it.
After having participated in our first Startup Weekend in Prague, Andrea and her team managed to develop and execute a very impressive idea – Tripinder; this smart concept aims to draw together adventurous souls and give them a hand arranging their trips. Since our last interview with Andrea, Tripinder has progressed a great deal; therefore, don’t miss this chance to catch up with the latest info.
Hi Andrea, thanks for your time. What phase of your life did we manage to currently reach you in?
Hi, greetings! Honestly, the time between November and December is one of the craziest times of the year. You caught me during a period of pretty difficult networking that meets research and development that are going on at Tripinder.
So far Tripinder managed to create an interesting community of travelling enthusiasts, how do you feel within the group?
Exactly, we are thrilled that we managed to, without paid media communication for now, involve not only the travellers themselves but also organisers and experience gift agencies that believe in us and plan trips with us.
As a matter of fact, on 5th December you organized a Tripinder community meeting; could you tell us something more about this event?
To be specific, we started with a smaller meeting for a group connected with Tripinder – Tripinder: Girls on the road. A girls-only travel group was missing from the Czech travel market and we decided to fill this gap and prepare regular meetings with certain topics, that girls needed while travelling. This time they were able to meet participants of the Low cost race who came and shared their experience, and also answered questions of girls who were considering travelling low cost or even taking part in the race.
The meeting of the whole community and its concept is still in the planning phase, we want to try something new again, something that people do not know from regular meetups.
Tripinder is a relatively new platform; are you planning on introducing any further upgrades to the already existing system?
We cannot wait for showing our users the upgrades that we are preparing, the first changes will be visible within two weeks. We do not want to give away more at this point but you have certainly something to look forward to. Besides that we have another interesting idea that could make the process of organising co-travelling even easier for our users.
As a Startup Weekend attendee, is there any message or a piece of advice you’d like to share with the future participants?
As a participant of the spring Startup Weekend and an audience-member of the education Startup Weekend I can only recommend attending. The feedback and learning about the process in spring helped me to start working on my project and I still use the contacts I made in that time today, and they are priceless.
Andrej is one of our Startup Weekend participants from the spring event, as well as volunteer from the fall event. Currently a student at Leaf Academy in Bratislava, Andrej’s had a unique opportunity of meeting many enterprising students from an international environment; moreover, he agreed to share a few words with us in the following interview.
Hello, Andrej! Thank you for your time. How are your studies going? Is there any interesting project you have been involved in lately?
Thank you, Jakub! Previous weeks at school were very enjoyable. We were “learning by doing,” as we call it at LEAF Academy. For example, a visit of the Auschwitz concentration camp helped us to understand what humanity is capable of and think about ways how to prevent our society from doing something similar in the future. The future was also the main topic of our last experiential day when we participated at Startup Awards & FutureNow Conference in Bratislava. We had a chance to hear a lot of inspiring ideas about the future of government, internet and mobility, and also to get to know the Slovak startup ecosystem a little bit more. It gave me motivation to work harder on my ongoing project. Me and my friend are currently helping one of the second-hand shops in Bratislava to boost their profit and create a strategy for growth.
You happened to participate in the spring event, does Startup Weekend have anything to offer also to young people like you, who perhaps don’t have the intention of executing their business plan yet?
I think that Startup Weekend is more about learning rather than building successful startups. It does not matter whether you are an experienced professional or a high school student, all of the participants go through the same process from problem validation to building a prototype, and in the end it depends on each person how much he or she takes from this experience. I heard stories from people meeting their future investors and co-founders, or encountering current technology for the first time in their lives at the event.
Going back to my participation at Startup Weekend, it gave me significant insights into leadership thanks to the fact that I was leading the team of 8 people. I learned about tech trends, and different techniques and tools that are very useful while turning an idea into reality.
After all, I believe we should encourage more young people to participate at Startup Weekend to help them understand today’s exponentially growing technology and importance of adapting to it.
Conversely, do you think that high school students can be an enrichment for their teams?
Definitely. I have seen many teams that had a high school student on board. Some of the teams were even led by high school students which shows the confidence and leadership potential of young people. Nowadays, technology and information are available to almost anyone in our region. This creates a lot of opportunities for self-learning. That is why we can see more and more young people having skills such as programming, design or digital marketing, but also design thinking or strong communication skills. This skill set is crucial for most of the Startup Weekend teams in order to deliver a prototype. However, it is not just about skills, it is also the mindset and approach of young people. I am sure that high school students can bring creative ideas and a strong desire to achieve great results which increases the motivation of the whole team. Therefore, I believe that high schoolers can be an enrichment for their teams.
Instead of participating, for the last Startup Weekend you decided to go and be a volunteer; how did this experience differ from the previous one?
It was quite interesting to experience the event from another point of view. I was surprised by how much work has to be put in in order to organize such an event. Now, I could clearly see how much time and energy the organizers put into making Startup Weekend happen. Another significant difference was in the type of people that participated in the events. The fall event was focused on education, so there were many people without tech and business backgrounds participating, while most people at the spring event were experienced professionals.
What made me really happy was that there were at least twice as many high school students participating as in March. In the end, I am very grateful for both opportunities, and I will surely attend Startup Weekend again!
What are your plans for the near future?
I am now looking forward for the winter break when I will have more time to be with my family, hang out with friends and finally get some rest after a relatively demanding period of time. Eating sweets and drinking hot tea while watching Christmas movies are the activities I am probably going to spend most time at. Ohh, and I want to do some sledging, so let´s hope there is some snow.