Startup weekend in Skopje

Authors: Emilija Georgievska & Aneta Dimoska
Photos: YES Incubator, Skopje

Have you ever had a dream or an idea you wanted to pursue, but you still did not have the right means to achieve it? Have you ever noticed that some things in everyday life do not function well for what you have come up with a better solution, yet you did not have the opportunity to share your thoughts about this with the wider audience?  Have you ever wanted to know how the business world functions, what is it like to work under pressure with people you barely know, all having the task to work together in order to accomplish a common goal? Well, if you did come across this kind of situation, how would you feel if one day you see a placard offering you the kind of experience that would fulfill all the above needs – an event which gives one a chance to present an idea, form a team that will work on it, and launch a business! To some of you this concept is probably familiar, but for those who do not have a clue what we are writing about and suddenly, however, felt enlightened by this, let us introduce to you the Startup Weekend event!

A “startup” weekend is about everything we mentioned already – sharing an idea, forming a team, launching a startup business. Participants work constantly for 54 hours, “no talk, all action”, as the slogan of the event proclaims, and at the end the best idea wins a prize (the type of prize depends on the organizers). Anyone can take part and try their luck in the business world.

The first Startup Weekend in the Balkans took place in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, during the weekend of 24-26 June, 2011. The “Mladiinfo” team was at the happening place to witness the event that brought a sense of creativity and innovation to our city. We were there when the participants proposed their ideas with each participant having 60 seconds on his/her disposal to present them. Finally, all the attendees voted for their favorite ideas in order for the best ones to be selected and to be worked on during the weekend.

The range of ideas varied, from creating a register for alternative medicine therapies, or a website that connects you to people travelling to the same destination so that you can share the price, to creating an application that will tell you which kitchen appliances remained switched off or on etc.

After posing their own ideas, not only participants but everyone who was present had the right to vote for its favorite solution.  The voting was conducted in a very interesting and unique fashion. The ideas were glued on the walls in the hallway of FON University (where the Startup Weekend was held) with each of the participants and the guests allowed to vote for only three presented ideas they liked the most.

When the voting process was done the next step was team creating. Those participants with the majority of the votes had a new task. They had to choose people to work with from different fields and branches in order to make a complete business plan strategy. Thus, nine teams were created all with different ideas, plans, views, problems, approaches…..but each one of them with the same goal: TO WIN!.

While these young people were busy working and were pressed by the time that was slowly expiring, we found some of them eager to tell us more information about their team and the idea they were sharing.

The first we came across was Martin. Martin is the CEO of the “CodeWell” company, a student in his final year majoring in informatics … and he is only 25. He is one of the seven members coming from their company, taking part in the Startup Weekend and presenting different ideas. The idea they worked on was called POCKET DISCOUNT, an application that Martin explains “should look as if you are going in a supermarket and you see some product you are interested in but you want to know what its price is in another supermarket – all you have to do is to scan that product and with a specific application on your cell phone you can get this information”.

Another interesting idea was the one presented by Vasja Petkovska. This ambitious young girl is offering a solution for the problem that many Macedonian companies currently face – the design of a well-organized website for only 599 denars (approximately 10 euros). As she said, the idea is almost finished, only the promotion and the marketing part are missing.

These participants are sharing same positive opinions about the Startup Weekend project, about the offered advantages of getting some useful advices by top managers, professors from Macedonia and abroad.

We also had the chance to talk to Natasha Petkova , the project coordinator of YES Foundation and the main organizer of the Startup Weekend in Skopje. As the responsible for the event, Natasha had to be available for everyone from morning up until evening. But, anyways, she is pleasantly surprised by the participants’ turnout at the first Startup Weekend in Macedonia. She also announced the next Startup Weekend which will be held on November 11-13.

So you, young leaders and entrepreneurs, better start working on your business idea because …who knows, maybe there is a comfortable office armchair waiting for you to sit in. 🙂 Good luck!


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