Big Things Are Happening in Malaysia, YSEALI Generation: Startup Weekend

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The Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) has kicked-off the application drive for the YSEALI Generation: Startup Weekend, as part of its youth engagement program facilitated by the US Embassy in Malaysia.

YSEALI Generation Startup Weekend (Startup Weekend ASEAN) is an initiative to bring together groups of young entrepreneurs from ten ASEAN countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei and Philippines) to ideate, create and develop products and solutions that has the potential to grow and impact the ASEAN Community. The program is held in partnership with the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), the agency mandated with building the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Malaysia and Techstars, a global network of leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.

The program is open to ASEAN citizens between the ages of 18 and 30. Ideal participants are university students or young professionals who have already started or plan to start a business, or who work in small entrepreneurial enterprises. The call for applications is now open and will close on 3rd of July 2015.

110 shortlisted participants from the ten ASEAN countries will be invited to a 3-day bootcamp in the MaGIC Campus in Cyberjaya, Malaysia from 4th – 6th August 2015.

In the 54-hour bootcamp, the teams will be involved in pitching ideas and solution for a common theme that has relevance across the ASEAN community such as healthcare, environmental issues, traffic management, government, and agriculture. With the guidance of onsite facilitators and mentors from Startup Weekend the teams will develop and program applications that address the chosen theme/cause.  On the final day of the bootcamp, each team will pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs and mentors.

Cheryl Yeoh, CEO of MaGIC iterates that, “Inculcating creative thinking and inspiring young entrepreneurs is at the core of what we do here at MaGIC. YSEALI Generation: Startup Weekend is a great platform to promote entrepreneurship and crosscountry youth collaboration around building viable solutions to tackle many of the regional issues. With Malaysia chairing ASEAN this year, and MaGIC’s focus on ASEAN entrepreneurship initiatives, we are greatly aligned in our support of this program.”

Danielle Reyes, Director of Global Expansion of Techstars also states, “Over the years, we’ve seen talent from around the globe surface and excel, setting the new standard for the next generations. Bringing together the regions innovators in ASEAN will no doubt bring great value in tackling the challenges in the region, and it will also forge valuable relationships, creating a stronger sense of community and strengthening the ecosystem as a whole. Any idea kept in the shadows is an opportunity lost and each idea has potential to change the world we live in. We’re excited to see what comes next for YSEALI entrepreneurs!”

The top team from the YSEALI Generation: Startup Weekend will win a trip to the United States to meet U.S. entrepreneurs, businesses and technology incubators, and key companies as well as the opportunity to participate in the MaGIC-Stanford G2Market program (a one week program for early stage entrepreneurs to develop and commercialize their ideas). The second and third place teams will win seed money which will be donated by private sector partners. All participating team will receive long-term mentoring and coaching that will extend beyond the program.

For more information on the YSEALI Generation: Startup Weekend, please visit yseali.state.gov.

 








Stronger Together: FantasyHub

As part of the Stronger Together series, we are taking a closer look at the impact of the interwoven startup ecosystem that UP Global and Techstars work within. Together, our now united organizations work to accelerate the pace of innovation and empower entrepreneurs to build companies that change the world.

In this series we’ll spotlight teams who have been a part of both UP Global programs and Techstars to explore the impact the integration of both programs has had or is having on their entrepreneurial journey.

 

FH Solid sm (1)

 

 

Andrew Busa CEO of FantasyHub tells us about his journey through entrepreneurship and the role Startup Next and Techstars has played in it.

 

When did you realize you were an entrepreneur?

I think everyone has a little bit of entrepreneurship in them. I’ve had a knack for getting people to move on ideas. I have always been a thinker, observer and problem solver.

In hindsight, I realized I had an obsession with creating something out of nothing is when I first got my hands on RollerCoaster Tycoon as a kid. Hated the missions.. Sandbox mode all the way.

 

How did it start for you? Was there a spark or revealing moment?

FantasyHub culminated from being the consumer and experiencing pains. Curiosity got the best of me and I jotted down 9 pages of notes with all of the problems in fantasy sports. Ideas are one thing, but once you take an idea and run with it are truly the revealing moments of what one is capable of.

 

What was your biggest feeling associated with the beginning of your journey?

Care-free and hungry… The idea came during my last year of college.. I was fortunate to not have a family or other commitments.. I had little to lose and everything to gain. The only opportunities I turned down was a position with the Cleveland browns and going to get my MBA..

 

What is your one-sentence company pitch?

The toms shoe of fantasy sports.

 

What problem is your company trying to solve?

Our goal is to deliver a product that gives more fans more reasons to play fantasy sports. Ultimately, to eliminate the excuses people make to try and play (it takes too much time.. I don’t want to lose money..). The space has changed in a way where other companies in the space have lost focus on the motivations on why people play with fantasy sports.

 

What value proposition does your company offer over competitors?

Every game on our platform delivers money to charity. There is more to this than meets the eye. It has been fascinating to see the response from our users and their commitment to our mission. We are combining two polar opposite behaviors, altruism and gaming, which is associated with selfishness

 

What are your short-term future challenges? Longer term?

It’s always making do with as little as possible but yet enough to continue showing more and more progress. Longer term is just the uncertainty of changing market conditions and growing in a way which is consistent with our vision but not being unfocused about outside opportunities, which stretch our focus.

 

Proudest achievement?

The fact we are still here. Also, getting into Techstars after three application periods. We almost didn’t apply the third time.

 

You went through the Startup Next program, what was the hardest thing for you to overcome there?

Continuing to question what we were doing and becoming aware of the areas we were deficient in.

 

Any advice for others entering Startup Next?

Act like you know nothing. Absorb as much as you can and ask good questions, especially ask good questions.

 

Team makeup then and now?

Then, three non-tech cofounders and two full stack developers. Now, +two front end developers and an SEO intern. (My first cofounder was someone whom I had known since 3rd grade.)

 

Were you involved in any other Startup programs?

  • Pitch events at Louisville, The University of Tennessee, Cincinnati
  • F50
  • Techstars (current, demo day June 17th in Austin).

 

What was your experience at Techstars?   

The experience has been more than amazing. It takes balance for the companies who are further along, balancing meeting mentors and workshops with the daily operations of a live business.

It is not just the amazing mentors who have been through a great deal to rely on, but the staff who lives it with us every day for three months, and the quality of the other companies in the program with us.

 

What benefit did you gain from attending both Startup Next and Techstars?

The ability to work with people who know more than us. Being young founders, we have and will make a lot of mistakes. We realized very early that finding outside eyes and minds to help with problems we are facing helps move things incredibly quicker. It’s having an amazing group of people who you can reach out to and also give back; in short, it’s a brotherhood.

 

Data Points:

Timeline: Idea (September 2012) à Initial business model building (8mos) à Family friends money, established LLC in Louisville, KY & first cofounder officially joined (July 2013) à Designs of initial idea (October 2013) à Pivoted model to DFS for charity & Alpha release, second employee joins (now cofounder) (January 2014) à First outside investment (March 2014) à Initial MVP “Kickstarter meets ESPN” (April 2014) à Hired two full stack employees (June 2014) à Small investment round (August 2014) à First athlete game for charity with Kurt Warner (September 2014) 7 athlete games later, we launched our daily fantasy lobby for the last 3 weeks of football (December 2014) à $1,000 a week in user spending, 2000 registered users, hired fulltime front end developer, small investment round (January 2015) à Accepted into Techstars, moved to Austin (for Techstars), run 26 athlete campaign for March Madness (March 2015) à $12,000 in spending per week, over 12k users, over $70k raised for charity to date, hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out to users from games, gearing up for seed investment round for demo day (now).

  • Employees: 8
  • Customers served: 12,000+
  • Fantasy Games launched: 3,000+
  • Revenue generated: shhh
  • Partners signed up: 50+
  • Funding secured: $470k, pre-seed
  • Industry: Fantasy Sports, online gaming
  • City: Austin
  • Country: USA
  • Platform: Web, Mobile, App (in review for App Store)







Stronger Together: QuotaDeck

As part of the Stronger Together series, we are taking a closer look at the impact of the interwoven startup ecosystem that UP Global and Techstars work within. Together, our now united organizations work to accelerate the pace of innovation and empower entrepreneurs to build companies that change the world.

In this series we’ll spotlight teams who have been a part of both UP Global programs and Techstars to explore the impact the integration of both programs has had or is having on their entrepreneurial journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurial journeys are not linear. When the organizer of Startup Weekend Salt Lake City asked local entrepreneur Bubba Page to participate as a mentor, Bubba accepted.

He would gladly offer his experience from several startups back to the community. The furthest thing in Bubba’s mind that night was pitching a new idea. He pitched on a whim — and won. He also wasn’t thinking he’d ever be in a pre-accelerator program like Startup Next, but he applied and was accepted.

There are a lot of unexpected — seemingly random things that can happen along an entrepreneur’s journey — if you are open to them.

Bubba Page recently took some time to discuss his Startup Next and Techstars experience and the impact both had on his company QuotaDeck

Did you find any Startup Next sessions more valuable than any others?
For me, the whole Next program was eye-opening. I mean to do the market research, and to talk about the business model, the customer use case, every single thing was valuable to me and I loved it. I seriously loved it because those are things that you as a startup founder typically don’t take the time to do, and it was so much better to have a program guide me through.

Did you get anything from Startup Next that you didn’t expect?
Sometimes when things are hard, and you’re the founder with a million things to do — the hardest thing ends up being the last one you do. And so I feel like the Next program gave me the accountability that I needed to say “Hey, they’re going to check in with you at the end of this week, so you better have something figured out.”

What would you say to someone with a business idea and a team, who is considering either an accelerator or a program like Startup Next?  
I would say do both, I don’t think it’s about one or the other. I think of Startup Next like it positions itself, as a pre-acceleration program. I received the time, instruction, mentorship, advising, and ability to practice — which are what you need as a startup in the early days. I think all the feedback in a program like Next definitely had something to do with me getting into Techstars.

Did Startup Next help QuotaDeck find funding? 
We got started fundraising just right out of Techstars, and the Next program team did a phenomenal job of making introductions for us to key players. Especially when I was out in New York City, Startup Next was able to make some fantastic intros to key venture firms that we might be potentially doing business with in this current round we’re raising. The lessons learned, the connections that were made, the practice that I got as I went and talked to all these different firms because of the Next program are invaluable. I think people underestimate the power of your network, and having a network like Next behind you and your company can add extreme value that you cannot foresee, so you just don’t know what kind of value it can bring until you’re in it and you have it.

Next provided me with the opportunities after their program to build relationships with not only seed investors, but with later stage investors too. I mean, in a year, QuotaDeck raised our seed round that very well could have taken two or three years.

Any advice you would have for aspiring founders? 
If you want something like this to come to fruition, you’ve got to work your butt off for it. I would also say you miss 100-percent of the shots you don’t take. A lot of people just don’t take the chance, they just tell themselves “No I’m not going to make it in, I can’t do that, or I can’t do this,” and then they never try. What I’ve found is that I just put myself out there — and I’m okay if I fail.

Because of that we learn all kinds of stuff like, “Who knows what we’ll win next?” and “Who knows what investor we’ll meet next? Who knows what company we’ll land as a customer?” All that just because we were willing to take the shots, and we are okay if we fail. Failure to me is good, it helps you to learn and grow.

Learn more about QuotaDeck.








Stronger Together: Magicflix

As part of the Stronger Together series, we are taking a closer look at the impact of the interwoven startup ecosystem that UP Global and Techstars work within. Together, our now united organizations work to accelerate the pace of innovation and empower entrepreneurs to build companies that change the world.

In this series we’ll spotlight teams who have been a part of both UP Global programs and Techstars to explore the impact the integration of both programs has had or is having on their entrepreneurial journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamtha Banarjee had one startup experience under her belt and was convinced this one was going to be different. She had her product and her team in place, yet she also knew she had many other important tasks ahead of her. As a technical person on a team deep with tech talent, the tendency was to stay heads-down and continue to refine the product.

She knew she had to build her network, refine the business plan, do customer validation, and so she applied to Startup Next. Her team was skeptical about what a 5-week program could provide. Her team is not skeptical anymore.

Mamtha Banarjee took some time recently to discuss her Startup Next experience.

What challenges were you facing coming into Startup Next?
Before we started with Next we were deep down in building out the product, so I had no time to look at business plans, to look at the market opportunity. I knew I had to put together the whole story about why we were doing this, and how to pitch it to others and get the business model going, but we just had zero time. Also, I had no network in the Pacific Northwest. So, I desperately needed a network, and I needed to kind of put together my story.

What did you get out of Startup Next?
So the timing for Startup Next was perfect — because as soon as we got into Next, we were forced, in 60 seconds to be able to tell the pitch. And to tell the pitch in a way where others actually understood it, not just in a way we understood it.

I still use the same pitch. As is. My opening pitch that I got out of Next hasn’t changed. I’ve tried to change it, but every time I change it, if I A/B test it, everybody likes the Next pitch. I think that was the first really good learning.

Then we had amazing mentors. The feedback loop was 360-degree feedback. I was able to get industry leaders to come look at us and immediately understand whether they’re able to relate to your idea or not. If I had to get meetings with the right set of people by myself, it would have taken me much, much longer. Whereas in these five weeks I was able to quickly access that network, while I spending most of my time on my company.

Did going through the Next program help you get into Techstars?
I think so, yes. I think it helped us when we did the application, everything was a lot crisper.

Did Startup Next factor in fundraising for MagicFlix?
We didn’t open a round until the end of Techstars for fundraising, but I’m still talking to connections that I met through Next.

What advice would you give a founder or team looking at Next?
If you ask my team, they will say: ‘that was the best investment we’ve ever made.’ I’m quoting that line from my team. They’ll say ‘that’s the best $300 we’ve ever spent.’ The returns have been so much more.

Learn more about Magicflix.








Edition #4: Small Business Innovation Spotlight

What is the the Small Business Innovation Spotlight? A weekly newsletter featuring a real small business with a real problem. Have a solution? If you decide to build a solution for a featured small business problem, we’ll help you get in touch with the small business owner, and potentially feature you on apps.com and more.

Small Business Spotlight: Meet EcoMasterBoards

ecoTell us a little bit about your business.
We are EcoMasterBoards, an E-Commerce business. We sell Eco friendly tile sample /display boards for granite, tile, marble, flooring, etc. (niche small distributors).

How many different software solutions do you use to run your business?
Accounting, that is it for now.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in trying to manage your business?
Attracting new clients via SEO…we are a small business so small budget (SEO packages ran approximately $1500 per month with a year commitment…thus we advertise using social media and word of mouth. Cash flow is also a challenge which is true for most new and small businesses.

 

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How much time do you spend working online in the course of a typical business day? How do you use your time online?
9-10 hours, which includes processing purchase orders, reconciling accounts, working with manufacturers, scheduling shipping, managing our website, paying vendors, processing custom orders, answering client questions via e mail (pricing, quotes, etc.).

Do you currently use any mobile apps to run your business?
Yes, Facebook pages manager, PayPal, QuickBooks, Mobile banking, WordPress.

What features of your current small business software do you love?
The ability to download bank information to quickly reconcile accounts.

What features of your current small business software do you hate? Is it well suited to your type of business?
The inability to generate ad hoc reports.

What would be an ideal software solution for your business look like?
The ability to create ad hoc reports based on specific data fields within the accounting software. Currently I am using an access database to combine multiple data points that I need to grow our business.

How much, if anything, would you pay for this solution? How much would this solution be worth to you on a monthly or annual basis?
It all depends on the time the new solution will save our company from manual data manipulation. Once I know time saved I can translate to dollars saved.

Do you have any additional thoughts you would like to share? Is there anything about QuickBooks or any other small business software solutions that you would like to share?
I would like to be able to maintain client and vendor information and have the ability to download specific fields. Maybe it is there and I do not see it. It would be great to track shopping history and frequency of orders and products ordered as well as prices and discounts given based on journal entries or inventory entries (client specific and/or product specific). Same goes for vendor payments.

 

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Ask An Entrepreneur: What are the most important values that you drive at your company and why?

Answer provided by: Daniela Luzi Tudor, CEO of Palalinq and Community Development Manager of General UI. Previous Employment: Recruiting and Account Management for clients that include Microsoft, Union Bank, Warner Brothers and startups. Previous Owner of Soundstrokes. Featured recently at the Bluetooth World Convention 2015.

Attachment-1What are the most important values that you drive at your company and why?

Palalinq is a mobile app and wearable that provides on the go support and rewards to those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The app shares the progress with the person’s support network and loved ones. It measures your mind, body and spiritual activities as they pertain to one’s recovery.

This idea came out of my own journey and struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Once I got into active recovery, I pitched the idea at Startup Weekend Maker’s Edition where we placed 3rd. Just a few days later I embarked on a trip to Necker Island, where I met Richard Branson and a cohort of his friends and upon return I collected everything I learned from both experiences to form the core values of Palalinq.

Our core values allow us to attract the right kind of partners that continue to drive this once a short pitch, into a full fledged service company to help your friends, family members, co workers and the strangers in your community.

*drum roll, here they are*

1. Honesty comes first.
Through honesty with each other, trust amongst the team members increases which leads to increased productivity and reduced errors in the work. If someone is feeling like the work load is too difficult or they hit obstacles, those get resolved quicker by consistently being honest.

2. Always ask yourself “why?”
This value is implemented two fold.

One: we ask ourselves why this work is important. When things get tough, remembering why this work is important allows our members to keep moving forward and puts us in a position to most effectively pitch our business to investors, customers and partners.

Second: We ask ourselves “why” when doing a task, project, or developing a feature. This ensures that we are staying on track to produce the best possible service for our customers.

3. Change is the only constant.
In the world we live in technology is changing and evolving very rapidly, along with the very complex nature of our subject matter, the success of our company is contingent on our attitude towards change. We have to welcome it and expect it in order to always provide the best service to our customers by making the appropriate changes swiftly, quickly and consciously.

Our core values are in place to serve our customers to lead successful and joyful lives and that includes the members and partners of Palalinq.

They’re also pretty good values by which to lead your personal lives…and many of us do!








Intuit Report: The Appification of Small Business








The Appification of Small Business (Infographic)

Appification of Small Business Infographic

Want to connect with the small business market? Sign up for the Small Business Spotlight newsletter. A weekly newsletter featuring a real small business with a real problem. Have a solution? If you decide to build a solution for a featured small business problem, we’ll help you get in touch with the small business owner, and potentially feature you on apps.com and more. Sign up here! 

 








YC-Backed EquipmentShare Is Like Airbnb For Construction Equipment

This article originally appeared on TechCrunch by 

UP Global Staff Note:  EquipmentShare is a Startup Weekend Alumn and Winner of Startup Weekend Columbia, MO 
 

In today’s world it seems there are fewer and fewer industries exist where there isn’t some sort of peer-to-peer model emerging for access to the goods needed to get a job done. Every segment is creating its own “Airbnb for X,” which you can attribute to a growing acceptance that as we all become connected, there’s little reason for each of us to own all the same stuff when we could just borrow what we need from a neighbor.

Apparently that theory even holds true for the construction industry, where a little startup called EquipmentShare is making it easier for construction crews to make rent equipment they don’t own from other contractors, while also allowing them to make money off their own idle gear.

Contractors can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a piece of equipment they might need for one job, and then have it sit idle for months or years while waiting for the next job that they’ll get to use it. Otherwise, they might have to shell out thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars a month to rent the same gear from a nearby equipment rental company.

The company was founded by brothers Willy and Jabbok Schlacks, who have been in the construction industry for more than 20 years and grew tired of facing the constant buy-versus-rent conundrum when it came to the equipment they needed. They were joined by Jeff Lowe, Matthew McDonald, and Brad Siegler, all of which are from the Missouri area.

Construction equipment rental is a $40 billion a year industry. But according to Willy Schlacks, contractors own about three times the amount of construction equipment that is owned by the rental companies. That means there’s a ton — literally, no pun intended — of excess inventory for contractors to take advantage of, if only there were a more efficient way for them to connect with one another.

EquipmentShare hopes to provide a platform for contractors to find that unused equipment, while also enabling them to make money off assets they own that are otherwise sitting idle.

To do so, the company has created an easy way for customers to post and describe their available equipment and set a rental price for it. For renters, the EquipmentShare platform provides a way to hunt for the equipment they need from others nearby. To ensure that everything goes as planned, the platform also handles all payment processing.

Because contractors are renting out equipment that is not being used, EquipmentShare prices are typically at least 30 percent below the price you would pay to a traditional rental company. However, since the platform provides the same sort of two-sided rating system as Airbnb and other peer-to-peer platforms, there’s an incentive for equipment to be well-maintained, and for contractors to not abuse the gear they’re renting.

In that way, EquipmentShare is hoping to provide a better experience than other peer-to-peer alternatives out there — mainly Craigslist, which is how many contractors find equipment to rent today. But when it comes to providing a peer-to-peer marketplace for this type of equipment, there are a number of hurdles to overcome, such as verifying the identity and licenses of contractors, while also insuring against damage to equipment that is rented out.

While limited only to the Missouri market currently, EquipmentShare hopes to be able to be in more markets soon. As part of Y Combinator, the team is paying attention to how other peer-to-peer services expanded their businesses, although Schlacks admits that there’s not a ton of overlap between his construction startup and a lot of the other software-type businesses that go through the program.

That said, where there’s a huge market opportunity — and construction rental is one — there’s usually a way for technology to make it more efficient. EquipmentShare hopes to provide the platform for doing so.

 








A New Way To Keep In Touch With Your Startup Weekend Network

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.59.24 AM

The story of Journey is not your typical startup story, but then again, Startup Weekend isn’t your typical startup experience. Startup Weekend is unique in that it separates the “talkers” from the “walkers,” it brings together a unique group of individuals, from almost every background and skill set, to share in an experience. It’s a unique experience that brings together individuals so committed to creating something that they are willing to spend three days, usually their weekend or time off, often with little to no sleep, to make a vision a reality, with complete strangers. If you’ve never been to a Startup Weekend, then well, you just won’t understand the energy until you do.

Enter Journey. Journey was created around the belief in the power of shared experiences to create meaningful, lasting connections between people. Journey Founders Alex and Tao believe they made such great cofounders because they didn’t just have an “interest” in startups and technology, they had that shared passion for startups which materialized in both of them doing whatever it took to make it to the Startup weekend where they met. They both travelled to Los Angeles for LA Startup Weekend from other parts of the country because of their shared passion for startups and commitment to create something. Though the idea they worked on at Startup Weekend LA never materialized, they kept in touch and eventually reconnected again across the country at 9,000ft in Telluride, Colorado at the Telluride Venture Accelerator (www.tellurideva.com). They also fundamentally understood each other because they’d both had the shared experiences of going to college in the Washington D.C. area, as well as spending time in both Hong Kong, China and the Rocky Mountains.

Journey is launching now, and just like Startup Weekend, the company believes in the power of shared experiences, it’s one of the reasons we do what we do. Journey can help you connect with other people that have experienced Startup Weekend and continue to interact with SW alumni. You never know, maybe you didn’t get to launch your dream company at a Startup Weekend, or maybe you didn’t meet that perfect cofounder, but now you can connect with the entire SW alumni network to continue that search, and connect around that shared experience of attending SW (and potentially other shared experiences!).

Journey is about far more than just connecting around Startup Weekend. Journey can connect around all kinds of shared experiences. Right now they primarily work off photos and locations you’ve entered into the app, or had in your Instagram or Facebook. So if you’re in Seattle, you could connect with other people that have say been to San Francisco. Or perhaps you’re new to New York and you’d like to find other people that ski in Colorado. Be sure to check out the full demo of the app here Experience Journey – Connect via Shared Experiences and feel free to contact the company directly if you have any questions or issues getting set up. You can follow them on Instagram and can stay tuned for updates on Facebook.

Journey has given Startup Weekend exclusive access to download the app early (sorry, only iOS at the moment) here, but you can also sign up to be notified when they release the Android version here.

Learn more about Journey!