The city of Eskisehir, had its first Startup Weekend organized during the last weekend with more than 25 pitches and 10 teams making it through to the finals, and over 100 participants. Eskisehir, which means Old City in Turkish, has two big universities Anadolu University and Eskisehir Osmangazi University, which according to the local folks make the city to be known as a student city.
Startup Weekend came in to the city for the first time, and it was of a great importance since there is not so much going on and this event was considered as a spark to a new active generation. The Mayor of Eskisehir and the Director of the University where the event was held showed up, and gave speeches.
After going through the slides, and asking how the pitching mood is, first impressive sing was to see almost 20 hands raised up and ready to get on stage and tell the story of 60 seconds, of world problem solving. Through the voting system participants and especially those who pitched get their first customer feedback, and eventually 10 teams made it out through, to making their hands dirty!
One thing that I like about people from Turkey is that they are very hard working during Startup Weekend’s, and very passionate about what they want to build and support what isn’t their own. From those who I saw and met, an event like this was a first timer for them, and they were a bit confused on what to do and what tasks to follow, but once they move one with the mentors support, on Sunday night they deliver a prototype. Sometimes it was a bit hard in these
situations, since some teams considered that every mentor input is for their good, and they pivoted and pivoted from business model to business model, until they started to understand that is important to listen but it is important to differentiate right from wrong. I think to this point it was a matter of the educational impact of working, since folks were task oriented and they expected every time that someone comes up and tells them what to do next.
For a startup, it’s a world of extreme uncertainty and the path of right and wrong has to be discovered mostly on its own. Finding a mentor to support them through this journey is the best thing that can happen and it only brings value.
While I saw some teams kicking it to the limit and sleeping at the venue to make their product/service work, there was this focus on the product/prototype and only a few were actually talking to real customers and validating. At least by Sunday, they started to understand the impact and the massiveness of what they were doing, but I consider this part of the process, since to the participants Startup Weekend was totally new and a life experience like this never happened to them, so they didn’t know what was expected from them. So after a while, instead of arguing what color would the customers like, a few teams started thinking on how they would actually get the product to the customer.
From live wallpapers to social translation and water measuring systems, that’s what has been presented during the 5 minutes showdown at Startup Weekend Eskisehir, while the judges were also impressed of what was shown and build in those unknown 54 hours. The top three teams were Jump-F (colorful and vibrant wallpapers for smartphones), Codil (linking developers and customers in an online marketplace) and Code of Water (water measuring system – some hardware shown at the event).
Awkwardly the winning team was given the possibility to do part-time and full-time jobs and internships to a company (… something to be considered for the next event), while there were also flowers for some of the female attendees and mentors, and some plaques in recognition of the value brought to the event, out of which I also got one. Participants were happy, and the local organizers Ezgi and Melis (also Ibrahim and Celal) were also happy after many hours of work and few hours of sleep, and not to mention the team from Viveka Incubator, that contributed a lot to make the event as awesome as possible for the first time in Eskisehir (Emin, Ece, Eter, Haydar, Baris, . I had the pleasure to go out a bit into the city nightlife under special treatment from the local friends, during which I tried a bit of the local Raki which is a must try for everyone who goes to Turkey. And by the way, some really great mentors were present at the event.
Startup Weekend Ankara is coming up next week, and I had the pleasure of being there last year as facilitator (read about that experience here) and I’m sure that it will be a blast again. A hint to everyone who want to pitch at Startup Weekend Ankara, use the pre-pitch trainings and have a look at some tips from my slides here on how and what to include on the slides.
Thank you for having me, and see you soon somewhere else. Some tweets from the folks from #SWESK below.
— ayalcinkaya (@ayalcinkaya_) March 26, 2013
@celiknimani thank you very much for your friendship, help, vision and everything. Have a nice flight
— Doruk Demirsar (@dorukdemirsar) March 25, 2013
— Viveka (@VivekaInc) March 24, 2013
— Şakir ERKAN (@SakirErkan27) March 24, 2013
Have a look at some of the fun: