Bright ideas can flourish even in the most desperate situations. This is exactly what Startup Weekend Damascus is aimed at. The initiative is an intense 54-hour event where local entrepreneurs, developers, designers, marketers, product managers, startup enthusiasts and anyone interested in building a business and help the local community will come together to share ideas, form teams, and launch startups.
During the latest edition of the event which was held between 18 and 20th of February 2014 over a hundred entrepreneurs gathered in Damascus for Startup Weekend to present their ideas on creating a viable business venture. In total, about 400 entrepreneurs in Syria applied to be part of the event, which produced 42 ideas for businesses that were whittled down to 19 teams who then developed an idea over three days into a business plan and presented it to judges.
The winner of the event was T3D, which designed a 3D printing prototype, and its team was awarded $1,000 and is likely to spend a month in Jordan on the Oasis 500 incubator scheme.
“It’s our responsibility to take care of the youth,” said Fadi Mujahid, a mentor and the chief executive of Dubai-based online game developer and publisher Game Power 7, speaking from the event. “With this crisis, our responsibility has doubled.”
Organizing Startup Weekend in Damascus, in the context of the intense and hard situations currently in Syria is a challenge in itself. Yet the importance of the event to draw the attention of local and global community to the untapped talent and creativity of the Syrian youth makes this challenge worth to be undertaken.
Damascus for Startup Weekend was organised by group of Syrian youth enthusiast about startups and entrepreneurship. In partnership with Wikilogia, an open community of makers, doers and dreamers, the group aim to organize the first Startup Weekend event in the country, as a part of a larger vision of bootstrapping an entrepreneurial ecosystem led by youth challenging the hard circumstances.