The following is a guest post from Startup Weekend Organizer and Facilitator Çelik Nimani about Math 4 Kids, a Startup Weekend team from Prishtina, Kosovo. Co Founders Blerta Thaçi, Agon Avdimetaj, Esat Pllana and Dorjan Berishaj were recently accepted into the ICK pre-accelerator in Kosovo after applying in the second round of the public call for business ideas.
They used to be shy, dressed with shirts and jeans and very stressed when pitching for the first time on May 25, 2012 in Prishtina, Kosovo to a crowd of total strangers. They were tackling the educational problem of learning mathematics, with a new mobile application aimed at kids aging from 6-9 years old- obviously the name was Math 4 Kids.
When voting finished and their idea went through, they immediately started working in developing the app, as hardworking geeks/engineers they were. Blerta, Doruntina, Driton, Agon and Esat were co-founding the basis of a startup that the next year would bring to life two other companies, hiring more than 60 employees. With the support of mentors and with their hard commitment, they received the third place at the second edition of Startup Weekend Prishtina, while they agreed that they don’t want to stop but continue their journey onto the business incubator of Innovation Centre Kosovo, the main supporter of Startup Weekend Prishtina. There they developed prototype after prototype, tested and validated, while being so sunk deep into the waters of entrepreneurship registering their first business, Eduapps and brining to life to other companies: Appsix and Netsix. While working on brining educational applications to the market, those youngsters, still students of computer sciences, were making an impact onto the economy of their country, whilst setting the first example in the country how a total strangers made it from 54 hours to entrepreneurs.
A week ago they expanded to the point where the business incubator had no place for them, since they were becoming so big and impossible to keep in a small office. They had launched more than 5 applications with their new business, a game based on a national hero Skenderbeu (Skenderman), which won the AppCamp Kosovo competition, a bank app enlisting information and services from local banks or an app giving the kids a joy beyond the classical way of learning math. And they were hiring more than 60 engineers and developers.
Now, months later, they are wearing ties, have kick-ass sales skills, are fearless when facing the audience and they run three companies, which they love calling startups and through which they are setting-up an example to their friends. They are on all TV channels, all local print and online media, they are the starts of their generation.
“Math 4 Kids” is a true Startup Weekend success story from a small country like Kosovo that is now hungered to tackle the international market with their services/products. I would call them heroes of their young generation, facing an economy of more than 40 percent unemployment. One thing I still love hearing form them “Startup Weekend changed our lives and we have responsibility to inspire others”