The Malta Independent 21 August 2018, Tuesday

Startup Weekend NEXT’s first session at SmartCity Malta

Malta Independent Saturday, 19 October 2013, 17:26 Last update: about 5 years ago

Last Saturday 12th October, SmartCity Malta hosted the first session of the Startup Weekend NEXT programme. This session focused on understanding the various issues the participating teams aim to solve, discussing customer empathy, and providing tips for the proper model-view-presenter design.

The goal of the NEXT programme is to educate over 30,000 entrepreneurs in 10,000 new startups worldwide. There are seven teams participating in the programme across the island, and these will be guided and getting valuable feedback from five mentors throughout each of the six session. The teams are currently at different stages of developing their startups. Whereas one of the participating projects will launch its first, beta services in a couple of weeks, others have well-defined objectives based on market research and financial analysis. These groups joined NEXT in order to verify their assumptions and avoid possible mistakes which may be very costly during further stages of the companies’ development. The remaining teams are at a very early stage of development, still in the process of validating the market and defining the details of their offerings.

The entire group is very well balanced in terms of professional skills and experience, as the attendees’ areas of expertise range from IT, programming, accounts, academic research and medicine. Some of the attendees also bring in their experience of past successes and failures in terms of startup-related projects. These factors make the discussions during each session very interactive and interesting, with various points of view expressed and often backed up by concrete examples from each individual or team’s own experience. Mentors are also actively involved in the discussions and provide several valuable inputs.

One of the participating startup projects - MyPhotoKart, is the brainchild of Dario Azzopardi who is an accountant and Gabriel Dimech, a software engineer. The concept behind MyPhotoKart is to physically preserve favorite memories by reviving photo printing. Unfortunately, since we shifted from film to digital photography, people tend to simply archive their photos in their hard drive. Choosing the photos one wants to print from their plethora of albums is a headache that many tend to avoid. Fortunately, nowadays people can capture great quality images with their smartphone cameras which they have with them at all times. Dario and Gabriel are working on an app that will give people the possibility of choosing the images they want to print as soon as they are taken, through a very simple and easy process. Once the order is placed, the printed photos will be delivered to the desired address. 

Speaking about the first session of NEXT, Dario and Gabriel said: “We heard great things about the Startup Weekend event that took place at SmartCity Malta last June. The NEXT programme is focused on the key areas that we sometimes tend to overlook, in particular the customer. Our resources are quite limited. Once we go live, we will need to make sure that our product addresses the needs of our target customers.”

‘’We enjoyed the first session. The mentors are a great asset to this programme. There was a lot of interaction which helps widen our knowledge on business and web development. We also had time to meet our assigned mentor, Simon Azzopardi. He helped us to pause and reflect on the basics. We are looking forward to the next sessions and getting to know the other participants better,” the MyPhotoKart team continued.

After taking the second runners-up title in Malta’s first Startup Weekend last June, the DASH THRU team was another one that signed up for NEXT, whilst it looks into potential opportunities to help individuals and companies increase efficiency on a day-to-day basis.  The team is currently working on providing automated storage space for temporary use in strategic locations around the island. Speaking about NEXT, Josie Cassar, founder of DASH THRU said: “Once we learnt about the NEXT programme, we knew that it was an opportunity that could not be missed.  After looking at the schedule and the list of mentors that were participating in the event, we knew that we just had to enrol, especially since we had continued working on our project during the summer months.”

“After just one session, we already know that we have made the right choice.  NEXT sessions are more focused on taking an idea to the market and so we are confident that we will leave the programme with the necessary skills to make our ideas a reality,” Ms Cassar continued.

Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti, NEXT mentor and managing partner of Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, was upbeat about NEXT’s first meeting, commenting: "The Startup Weekend NEXT programme is a great opportunity for Malta's growing tech start up scene. I have been allocated to mentor two small teams, an internet start-up that is still at concept stage and a more advanced B2B online software solution start up that is in the process of launching more modules.  SmartCity Malta is a befitting venue for tech start-ups to meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas, collaborate and discuss progress with mentors.”

For further information on the Startup Weekend NEXT programme, please see http://www.swnext.co/smartcity, follow the SmartCity News Facebook page or join the Startup at SmartCity Facebook group.

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