Ambiente’s managing director Suzanne was recently invited to be a mentor and judge for the Universal Start-up Weekend held here in Macau. This particular event focused on promoting women entrepreneurs, with most team members being female. Their vision: to continue to cultivate a wholly inclusive community and to empower women to pursue their dreams and build tools that change the world.
Start-up Weekend is a non-profit event sponsored by famous US technology start-up organisation Techstars. Founded 11 years ago, Start-up Weekend has grown into an organization with a global presence. It’s reached over 135 countries, involving over a quarter of a million entrepreneurs. In Asia Pacific it was held simultaneously this year with more than 10 other cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney.
In Macau, some 30 participants signed up for this 54-hour weekend event. These young people came from a wide range of industries, and together with a group of mentors made up of developers, business managers, start-up enthusiasts, marketing gurus, and graphic artists, pitched ideas for new start-up companies.
After a vote, the best five ideas were agreed on and participants then formed into five teams around these ideas to develop a working prototype, marketing and financial budgets, and a PowerPoint presentation by Sunday evening. They then pitched their project to a judging panel.
It was a real eye-opener for me, not only to see the skills and enthusiasm among young Macau people and their eagerness to come up with inspiring new ideas to benefit Macau, but Suzanne was also greatly impressed with the excellent facilities offered to them at the venue which was sponsored by Macau Envision Accelerator. She had no idea that such facilities existed and has since learned that there are other similar venues dotted about Macau, helping to support and groom young talent.
The support and mentoring that the teams received during the weekend was equally encouraging, from women entrepreneurs of all walks of life, ranging from lawyers, marketeers, designers, event organizers, accountants, publishers, and me from the real estate industry. There were stories to share on how they, as women, began their careers, started and developed their businesses, and what they have learned through both failures and successes.
And who was the winning team?
It was motorcycle ride-hailing project RUSH! The start-up proposed a motorcycle transportation app (similar in concept to UBER but using motorbikes instead of cars), to help alleviate the challenges that Macau people face travelling from A to B, when buses are full and taxi queues stretch around the block. Income would be generated by user payments, and through personalized advertising. The app would capture information on user gender, age and hobbies, to be used for personalised advertising, and income would then come from payments by businesses – shops, restaurants – where passengers choose to go.
The RUSH! team will now represent Macau in a final pitch competition held later this year in Bali, where they will compete with teams from other Asia Pacific cities.
“We enjoyed the process so much and the valuable advice from mentors which enabled us to succeed. We hope to bring this idea to reality soon,” the team told us at the end of the event.
So watch this space. You too could be hopping on the back of a motorbike to get to work or pop down to the shops!