This article was written by Mac-Jordan. Twitter: @MacJordaN
This past weekend, Startup Weekend Accra took place at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in East-Legon, an area in Ghana’s capital Accra. The event was sold out and attracted more than 100 attendees. On the last day (of the three day event) the winner was announced: Dropifi – an online messaging platform that turns contacts of large and small scale businesses into loyal customers.
Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketeers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups! Startup Weekends are weekend-long, hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs find out if their startup ideas are viable. As the name suggests, those interested in creating a startup dedicate a weekend to developing the business plan and prototype for a new viable technology related business.
Startup Weekend Accra was part of Global Entrepreneurship Week’s signature event which brought together aspiring entrepreneurs to share ideas and form teams to create a business. The teams formed within 54 hours were given an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges.
During the first day thirteen awesome and inspiring ideas were presented by the participants and a vote was casted to determine the top ideas. At the end of the voting process, eight teams emerged with a group membership of a minimum of three and a maximum of eight members. The various teams started brainstorming on the ideas, presented their strategies for developing them and explained the team roles.
The various teams started working on their business models, artists/designers put ideas together for the startup logo and general web design.
Below are the 8 teams that pitched to the jury at Startup Weekend Accra:
• Maid.dle – A web/mobile service for matching housekeepers and domestic workers to potential clients.
• TeamTaunt – A social element of sports that creates perhaps the most passion among sports fans but that is not accurately tackled by the various sports network is fan rivalry.
• Djumah – A professional networking platform that leverages the power of social networking of both employers and job seekers to identify the most trusted and qualified candidates.
• DigiDoc – A web application that will be used by doctors in analyzing patient X-rays and scans everywhere leading to prompt response that will help saves lives.
• Panic-Eye – A single key alert activity app which wants to be the future of 911.
• iDentify – A mobile app that identify your location and helps you get to your destination.
• Dropifi – A web messaging platform that turns your contacts into loyal customers.
• GAS’YO – An app that lets you know the closest LPG filling station to your home, where gas is still available to refill your empty tank.
At exactly 1700 GMT, all participants were seated and ready for the pitch from the various teams. The jury was comprised of Ghana’s former Communication Minister and also former CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization; Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Richard Tanksley; Senior Faculty – MEST, Jim Kaubisch; Senior Faculty – MEST and George Antiohene – Country Manager of HP Ghana. The team leads from the various groups pitched their business ideas to the jury and also answered questions ranging from business model justification, target audience, customer validation and how they tend to execute their product.
At the end of the presentations, Dropifi – a web messaging platform that turns large and small scale businesses online/offline contacts into loyal customers won the top prize. Their idea is about developing a web service that is embedded on the contact page of large/medium scale companies. The widget allows easy communication between prospective customers and businesses that can be used to generate leads for additional sales. For the prize, Dropifi are admitted into the Global Startup Battle 2011, receive a one year package from Teambox.com and score an HP Laptop, SMS Products from SMSGH and a US$200 Amazon Web services voucher. They also submit a video pitch that will be presented to a Silicon Valley investor and get special introductions to the Ghana Multimedia Incubation Center, Ghana Venture Capital Trust and Ghana Angel Investors network.
Speaking to the former Ghanaian Communications Minister, Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, he had this to say about the event:
“The event was very timely and also impressive in the sense that, I wasn’t aware about Meltwater’s presence in Ghana in promoting Entrepreneurship and Software Development at the post-graduate level. The fact that, about 100+ young entrepreneurs with various levels of ICT skills who willingly decided to spend their time and weekend sharing ideas and coming up with such innovate business ideas was laudable. I was very surprised to know, some of them even stayed behind working on their ideas late in the night.
The development of these new products and services involves the combination of skill-sets which requires software developers & others with business ideas to mingle, share ideas and come up with these services within 54-hours was indeed awesome. Also, the fact that their main focus was on using the internet and mobile as their platform for selling their products/services really was an exceptional part for me.
In my capacity as the former CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization, I have recommended the creation of an African E-content Development Fund that would be established at the continental level.”
Visit the website of the Accra Startup Weekend. Later this week VC4Africa will publish an interview with the team behind Dropifi.