By Jameela I. Mendoza
Silliman University (SU) hosted the first Startup Weekend in Dumaguete, a global event that trains young adults to turn their ideas into business using technology, last Nov. 27-29 at the Audio Visual Theater and Alfredo Ang lecture rooms.
Dulce Rose Lada, facilitator of Startup Weekend Dumaguete, said: “A startup is a temporary organization designed to search a scalable and reputable business model.”
Lada explained that not all new and small businesses are startups, because a startup must aim to solve a particular problem in communities.
Also, Lada said that a startup’s business model must be ‘scalable,’ which means the business must be able to expand over a wider audience.
Moreover, a startup is ‘temporary’ because Lada said that “startups should not stay as small businesses.”
Startup Week, according to Lada, is an event that “teaches entrepreneurs how to build a startup within 54 hours.”
However, Lada also said that the participants in Startup Weekend are a mix of students, professionals from different backgrounds like designers, developers, and entrepreneurs, and others who are interested.
On the three-day event, participants started forming teams of five members, voted for the best ideas with the help of mentors, then pitched their ideas in front of other participants, mentors, and judges.
“Then last [Nov. 28], they started to validate those ideas. So, they built a business model behind it…with the help of the mentors,” said Lada.
Mentors in Startup Weekend helped the teams improve their business models. Nine mentors were in the event. There were different mentors for different aspects in developing a business model.
Robert Reyes, mentor for technical and project management, said that the aspect depends on the specialty and capabilities of the mentor. Reyes, who owns a web company in Manila and represents Mozilla in the Philippines, has been a mentor in about eight Startup Weekend events in the country.
“Startup weekend is a springboard for the teams to find future mentors to polish their idea into a real business,” Reyes said.
Reyes added that the event is where ideas can be polished because it is where participants can encounter questions that future investors might ask them.
“What happens is that, you have an idea, but how can you turn that idea into a business, a money-making machine? So, you need an event like [Startup Weekend].” Said Reyes.
The aim of Startup Weekend, said Reyes, is to find brilliant ideas that can be turned into businesses.
“Events like this are avenues for students and young professionals to tell us about their great idea,” said Frederick Amores, director for Department of Science and Techonology-Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) Visayas Cluster 1.
In DOST-ICTO, Amores said that it is part of their program to develop ‘technopreneurship,’ which is the part of entrepreneurship that uses technology.
As one of the judges in Startup Weekend Dumaguete, Amores said, “We want to change the mindset that when you go after college, there’s only work. Entrepreneurship is an option. You don’t have to be rich to be an entrepreneur.”
Meanwhile, Danah Fortunato, executive director of ICT Association of Negros Oriental and Dumaguete, said that they want to have a startup community in city.
“It’s a way for people to network, discover likeminded people who are able to complement you…your skills, talents…to test out ideas, [and] find other people who can co-found a startup with you,” said Fortunato.
On the last day of the event, a team won first prize in Startup Weekend for their business model called “PairED.”
PairED is a system that will match the expertise and rates of tutors with the needs and budget of students who want tutorial services.
Ever John Laingo, member of Team PairED and a nursing instructor at St. Paul University Dumaguete, said: “We also match preferences, and if they want online or face-to-face [tutorial], then we will match their location.”
Laingo is a nursing instructor at St. Paul University Dumaguete.
Dave Marcial, dean of the SU College of Computer Studies, said that the Startup Weekend is a good training ground for what students learn in the classrooms.
“We believe that’s one way also of training our students to think innovatively, not just simply academic,” said Marcial.