I was introduced to the Lebanese Ecosystem in 2014 when I attended Banque Du Liban Accelerate 2014 as a Sponsor (representing Nostalgie Liban and NRJ Lebanon). To be honest, I was fascinated to know more about companies that accelerate and incubate startups and innovations.
I somehow knew about Sequence (A Start Up Accelerator) since I was younger, but Banque Du Liban Accelerate raised the bars up higher when it comes to the region’s entrepreneurs. I, later, worked with the organizing team of BDL Accelerate Team 2015 and ever since I have been more and more interested in this non-worthless-community taking place in our society.
Here’s what you need to know about Start Up weekends, Accelerators, and the Ecosystem in general (from observation).
Such events/ programs promote entrepreneurship and support young startups.
At Startup weekends/ competitions, more than 10 people pitch ideas for new startups. The attendees vote for the different ideas; those who cast the votes form teams (of the participants who want to team up with them) to get the pitched idea to action.
At hackathons, more than 2 teams join forces to come up with a hardware or software device – they present it to a jury.
Prizes can get up to millions of dollars, along with full incubation and assessment from the ‘smart’ programs like Smart ESA or managing partners like MEVP.
– Any one can be part of it. You don’t need to be a developer to be part of the community. You don’t need to be a “geek”. Every one is needed. Whether your background is in photography, design, marketing, computer science, engineering, technical support, or community service; you can join a team and start making ideas happen!
– You don’t need a team to join. If you have an idea, and you do not have a team to execute it with or you do not trust the people around you, simply say it out loud at an accelerator program! You will be introduced to people who think the way you do, most of the times – because those are the people in the community. Those who believe in your idea will join you and start making ideas happen with you!
– You don’t need to have an idea. It’s alright if you do not have an idea of a startup, others do! Join the network of ideas, if you felt like you would like to team up with someone with a great idea, DO IT – and start making ideas happen together!
– Don’t be so selfish and possessive about your ideas! If you have a great idea and you’re just keeping it for the right time – IT IS THE RIGHT TIME. I understand that most of us think we are the smartest individuals in the world with creative brains BUT truth is – if you keep your ideas dormant for a long time, the universe (someone else) will eventually make your ideas for you!
– You don’t need to be a professional. Programs like Berytech and Altcity will provide you with all the support you need as a young entrepreneur including finding you investors, keeping you updated with competitions, and even providing you with offices.
Even if such companies will be charging a bit of your profit, always know this:
Having 100% of nothing is not any better than having 10% of something BIG & you won’t be only getting 10% if you know what I mean.
Why You NEED to attend such events?
– It’s Global. Such events always have speakers, entrepreneurs, success stories, investors, mentors, and attendees from all over the world. You will meet people from Europe, Asia, North America, Iran, Middle East, Africa… What’s nice is that they are all there to CONNECT. People go to such events to meet people and finalize deals with win-win-situations. You will get to communicate with people from Silicon Valley like Marvin Liao (that personally explained to me a lot about the ecosystem and how to maximize my potential, energy, and work more efficiently). You will not think locally anymore.
– It’s educational. On one hand, most (not generalizing) of the unemployed people in Lebanon are not really focused on anything beneficial to the environment other than posing on Instagram and getting the latest LV bag. On the other hand, the employed aren’t really aware of what’s going on in the world of tech and entrepreneurship much; a big percentage of them are not happy with their jobs, have the job description of a robot – AND are not aware that they can easily do something on their own! These kinds of programs teach employees that there is more to life than an 8 to 5 job, that their ideas can be made into practice, and that people who were employees are now successful entrepreneurs.
Also, you will learn a lot about management, risk-taking, marketing, funding, building hardware and software programs, coding, and entrepreneurship. It’s definitely a whole new world!
– You will perceive failure in a different way. In our world, failure is a misfortune. It’s a shame. The ecosystem will introduce you to millionaires/ successful entrepreneurs with a lot of stories where they failed and dropped to point 0 and got back up over and over again. That might motivate you to start taking the risk.
– It’s a clean environment; everyone is there to innovate, to connect, to interact, to ask questions, to learn, to invest, to teach, to mentor, and to support. Even if you might get paranoid of a greater power doing such events, because I hear that a lot. It’s still better to have your ideas stolen and executed than to keep them in your brain while having a shot of tequila at the beach (be productive and initiate then have some tequila, you will enjoy it more); Weigh the other option and choose to come and join the ecosystem that believes in your power of change!
– And it is always FUN! Apart from all the ‘connecting with people’ that happens at hackathons and startup weekends, attendees are always subject to many activities. We had a yoga session (Isha Foundation) in the last Startup Weekend, a morning run on another day (Run With Paula), and 24 7 available playstation and foosball (Torch Academy)!
Even if you were going as an observer, try to make it and go!
I covered the #SWBeirut 2016 as SocialMode – the Social Media Partner of Statup Weekend Beirut Environment Edition
All the pictures were taken by this awesome guy Jawad Bou Hadir .
To know more about the content that was spoken during the weekend go to
the twitter account of SWBEIRUT www.twitter.com/swbeirut
and the facebook account www.facebook.com/swbeirut
#SWBEIRUT was mainly organized by Layal Jebran (the Co-Founder of Cycling Circle and Deghri Messengers)
I was introduced to SWBeirut by my dear friend Arthur Bizdikian & I am very glad I attended!