This post was written by our guest editor: Tim “Tai-Pan” Brown, an entrepreneur, and the editor in chief of the English language Chinese gadget blog Shanzai.com
This past weekend sees the first rendition of Startup Weekend Taipei. Volker Heistermann of Yushan Ventures is the catalyst for bringing the successful franchise for spurring innovative new business ideas to life to Taiwan. To get an idea about his motivations and ideas for Startup Weekend be sure to watch the video.
After spending a weekend with the first participants in Startup Weekend Taipei I have to tell you that whether the next Facebook emerges or not from this event, the event itself is a huge success.
In a country not well known for its software innovation, over 150 participants attended making 30, 60 second pitches for new product ideas. After living in Taiwan for the last 15 years and attending events and meetings where few Taiwanese were willing to engage or participate in meaningful ways it was a revelation to see the unbridled enthusiasm and fearless contributions of these future entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is not new in Taiwan but moving beyond the “family fools and friends” traditional model of Angel investment in Taiwan to a more institutionalized process is relatively new and StartUp Weekend’s sold out success shows a pent up demand.
Ideas pitched for products at the event included portable chat products, recipe making services, location based gaming and time sharing services. Not surprisingly in today’s investment climate most of the ideas revolved around mobile applications.
54 hours later the event concluded with 11 new businesses vying for prizes that included cash, mentoring and virtual office services. The top ideas as determined by an esteemed panel of judges from the venture capital community in Taiwan, China and Silicon valley included in 3rd place “Ezcook” an iPad focused, hands free instructions application for making your favorite dishes, and “Vetter” an ideas flow, and management service that brought simplicity and competitive pricing to a 2nd place finish. The judges favorite for the weekend “Food Jing” is a service that matches your food cravings with the nearest available restaurants.
Congratulation to those winners, their aspiring competitors and the organizers are due and I have no doubt that there are already inspired entrepreneurs hatching new ideas and plans for the next Start Up Taipei event which will take place in January.