Community leader Spotlight: Mike Michalec, Bangkok (Thailand)

1.When did you get involved with Startup Weekend?

My very first exposure to the Startup Weekend community was way back in 2012 in Bangkok when I was working for a startup. Two of our team members were asked to mentor at Startup Weekend so I tagged along to see what all the hype was about and I’ve been hooked ever since contributing most recently the past few years as an organizer, facilitator, mentor, and judge.  

  1. What do you do when you are not wearing your Community Leader cape?

I’m a consultant in the international development sector so I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute to a lot of impactful social and economic development projects throughout the world that influence things like climate finance, education budgeting, literacy, disaster preparation, innovation, etc. Most of my work is for organizations like UNESCO, UNICEF, or USAID contractors but I also occasionally work for corporate clients. I don’t really have a lot of free time but when there is I like to get away from congested places and hike for as long as my legs will let me! There’s some great treks within our region like Chiang Dao in northern Thailand, Rinjani in Lombok, and pretty much anything in Nepal is awesome. I’m also a big fan of black and white photography and have a website with my work over the years, bwphotography.org

  1. What are your bold plans for the future of your community?

That’s the million dollar question! I think about this everyday and to be honest the plans are constantly being refined as the regional edtech ecosystem and community evolves. As we engage the community we’re always finding new ways to bring value to stakeholders and catalyze growth in the edtech sector either through events, capacity building, research, product, programs, data, etc. Startup Weekend definitely plays a big role in this as we’re keen to keep introducing new groups of people throughout the region to entrepreneurship with the intent to solve problems and improve education outcomes. There are so many unique opportunities to have positive impact by empowering others, creating employment, and transforming education, it’s an exciting time in Asia and we’re quite happy to be here helping to make some of these changes happen.  

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn or follow his endeavours on Facebook.

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Techstars y UP Global: ¿Qué significa para los Líderes de Comunidad?

Siendo quien activa esta posibilidad, queremos asegurarnos que cuentas con toda la información que podrías necesitar.

Aquí están los recursos más importantes para continuar nuestra misión juntos:

  •      Announcement Hub (incluyendo el Live Chat)
  •      Preguntas Frecuentes para Líderes de Comunidad
  •      Carta por parte de Marc hacia los Líderes de Comunidad
  •      ¡Únete a los grupos de Facebook! If you’re not already a part, join the conversation:
  •      AMA Series – ¡Únete a las sesiones de preguntas y respuestas en vivo!

○      Jueves 18 de junio, 9am PST con Marc Nager

○      Jueves 18 de junio, 4:30pm PST con Marc Nager y David Brown

○      Viernes 19 de junio, 10am PST con Marc Nager y David Cohen

Principales cambios para los Líderes de Comunidad:

  • Como varias de nuestras oficinas internacionales, las oficinas centrales de Estados Unidos pasarán a ser una entidad con fines de lucro (al convertirse en parte de la organización Techstars). Para la mayoría del mundo, esto no cambiará nada, sin embargo, si has hecho procuración de fondos bajo la bandera de ser una organización sin fines de lucro, estamos creando recursos que te ayudarán a comunicar la nueva propuesta de valor para quienes patrocinen tus eventos. Si te encuentras procurando fondos actualmente para tu siguiente evento, siéntete en la libertad de escribir a tu Regional Manager para soporte inmediato.
  • Como una organización con fin de lucro, podremos invertir en equipos exitosos de Startup Weekend a través de los programas de Techstars y re-invertiremos ese valor a la misión en un largo plazo.
  •      Con esto, la marca de UP Global será retirada en favor de la marca sombrilla de Techstars. Las marcas de los programas como Startup Weekend, Startup Digest, Startup Next, y Startup Week NO cambiarán. Nuestras oficinas internacionales se volverán parte de la marca de Techstars conforme pase el tiempo.
  •      La marca de Startup America, que se combinó con Startup Weekend cuando se creó UP Global en 2013, será devuelta a Case Foundation, quienes explorarán oportunidades para futuros programas bajo ese nombre.
  •      Google for Entrepreneurs continuará apoyando a Startup Weekend y Startup Next globalmente y nuestros aliados actuales globales, regionales y de cada programa, continuarán con nosotros mientras seguimos en nuestra operación bajo Techstars.
  •     ¡Startup Next ahora será gratis! Los costos previamente asociados a la aceptación del programa serán eliminados, dando a más emprendedores la oportunidad de tomar ventaja en este recurso para ayudarles a escalar.
  •      Estaremos implementando nuevas maneras para que los líderes de comunidad nominen a los equipos que ellos consideren una buena opción para los programas de aceleración de Techstars. Esto no garantiza la aceptación de los equipos, pero confiamos en que nuestros líderes nos ayudarán a identificar esos equipos de alta calidad para brindarles exposición y nuevas oportunidades.
  •      Como sea posible, estamos emocionados de conectar las dos redes para oportunidades de mentoría, posiciones abiertas en compañías de Techstars y Startup Weekend, espacios compartidos para eventos y más. Si tienes una idea de cómo conectar en una manera específica, déjanos saber.
  •     Marc Nager, nuestro CEO, será parte del equipo ejecutivo en Techstars como Chief Community Officer. El equipo Global se convertirá en empleados de Techstars sirviendo en el mismo rol o similares y la junta de UP Global, continuará apoyando nuestros esfuerzos en maneras diferentes mientras la junta formal se disuelve.

Estamos extremadamente emocionados de continuar trabajando en esta misión al lado de Techstars y de continuar sirviéndote y a las comunidades de emprendimiento alrededor del mundo. Estamos confiados de que lo que podemos hacer juntos será muy poderoso y estamos ansiosos de proveerte con un mejor y más completo apoyo.

Como siempre, puedes contactar a tu Regional Manager o contactarnos en: help@up.co.








Startup Weekend Amman: Seeding Leaders in Jordan.

*Research and additional reporting contributed by Lauren Sauser. 

Amman, Jordan is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city is Jordan’s political, cultural, and commercial capitol; and from February 13th to February 15th, Amman hosted a Startup Weekend for the third time.

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Encouragingly, Jordan’s third Startup Weekend in two years attracted ideas around education, mobile, and health technology.

“I come from Iraq, where talk is cheap,” Ali Hilli, one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Amman, said. “The first time I participated in a Startup Weekend was back in June, when Startup Weekend Baghdad took place… [Now,] I live in Jordan where people are barely having a chance to excel.”

Prior to 2012, Startup Weekend had little-to-no representation in Jordan, and the process of organization there was untested. Hilli was initially concerned that Startup Weekend would follow the formula of summits like TedEX: full of motivational speeches, with little actionable direction for participants.

“Iraq and Jordan don’t need talk: they need action!” Hilli emphasized. “I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of SW Baghdad… I participated in Startup Weekend Erbil two months later as a mentor, and was invited to Startup Weekend Basra as a judge. Only then did I look at Jordan, the country I live in, and decide to revive the Startup Weekend soul that [had been] absent for a year and a half.”

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But it wasn’t easy: Hilli and other organizers faced an exhausted national economy, a tense political climate, and a dramatic shortage of resources. According to Hilli, the complexity of the Jordanian economy makes people cautious about providing direct funding.

“I contacted more than fifty entities to sponsor [our event] and more than 45 of them closed their door,” Hilli says. “Eventually, I gave up asking for cash and started asking for services. Coca Cola gave us beverages; Nescafe [did], too. Zain gave us internet connections, and TAG, which I’m connected to as a consultant, gave us the venue…we provided food expenses from the ticket prices. “

Judges examined each team’s evidence for customer validation, product execution, and general business modeling. The judges also looked at how teams presented the concept and its potential in the market, as well as the direct functionality of the product for Jordanians.

Droid Press won first prize, creating a mobile-application generator that allows users to build Android and IOS apps. People with existing websites can build an app within 10 minutes using the Droid Press software.

e-Roshetta won second prize, through seeking to reduce the amount of errors genrated in writing prescriptions. According to the team’s research, this phenomenon is widespread throughout Jordan. Through the e-Roshetta database, doctors will electronically submit prescriptions directly to the pharmacy, which can be picked up by the patient using a unique patient code. This process is intended to reduce human error and allow patients’ medications to be tracked more accurately.

B Roll won third prize, a GPS-based platform through which users seek and exchange services for payment. The prize for “Best Design” went to simappz, which allows users to access their cell phone data through an online network, and allows them to make calls or restore information without physically possessing their phone.

“[Jordanian entrepreneurs] need to focus on the normal needs of a human being,” Hilli said. “During the event, participants focused on solving problems that occurred in their daily lives… Once these simple problems are solved, and hope is restored for entrepreneurship and growth [in Jordan,] peace will be served on a golden dish.”

The Jordanian economy is largely dependent on tourism. Compounding this influx of foreign traffic, refugees flood into Jordan intermittently to escape conflict within their own nations. As a social consequence, Jordan has struggled to provide equitable, basic resources for its population. Continuous government borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, and continued political unrest in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Israel have made matters worse.

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“My country has a weak economy and a budget deficit of 17 billion JDs,” Hilli said. “You might say, ‘America, too, has a large deficit,’ but the two cannot be compared. America’s deficit is in dollars, and America can control the [value of the dollar]… the Jordanian dinar is a currency that is [inherently] attached to the dollar by its value.”

Population growth, the depletion of groundwater reserves, and other variables of climate change are likely to aggravate this economic plight in the decades to come. Jordan is considered among the ten most-water-scarce countries in the world, and its hydrological future is largely dependent on the efforts of its young, hopeful engineers. Jordan’s major surface water resources, the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, are shared with Israel and Syria; a transnational dependency which leaves a proportionally small amount for Jordan.

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Amman is at the center of Jordan’s entrepreneurial community building effort, and will continue to attract innovators as such. The content of Jordan’s first three Startup Weekend events hints at the intellectual fertility of the tech community, as well as the progress left to be made. Jordan’s technologically-intrepid minority, while proudly building products in the vein of social service, must also battle the social and economic conditions within Jordan that limit technological access to such products.

See photos from the event here.