After running a couple of weekend startup incubators under the BootUP! name, we hooked up with the global Startup Weekend organization to do another event. The first two being held in BootHK limited the available size to around 20, but we were able to score a great venue at the M-Lab facilities in Kowloon Tong, giving us room for 50 partcipants. This also helped with reaching into the local college community, since it is a part of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University school of design.
Seven teams built startups from Friday night until Sunday evening. The ideas ranged from helping consumers manage loyalty cards to preparing your digital assets for when you die. Similarly, participants varied in their backgrounds and gave a good mix of business, development, and design experts to put together some great prototypes.
The winner for the weekend is AwesomeShip (http://awesome-ship.com). They created a service that notifies customers when a package ships or has major status changes, such as if it is about to be delivered. This will keep the customer experience consistent, even between different shipping methods, and has been shown to reduce the customer service overhead within companies.
The bigger story, however, comes after the weekend was over. This last week was global entrepreneurship week, and around the world forty eight different cities hosted Startup Weekend events and now they are all battling to the death on a small island in the Pacific. (That last part is not quite true, but could be cool.)
What has happened in Hong Kong is quite interesting, and I would like to have feedback on if this has happened in other locations. Many of the other participants are now working on AwesomeShip to help them pull together the website, PR, and even basic branding. They are taking to the streets of Hong Kong to spread the word about what is going on and to help promote both AwesomeShip and their experience in Startup Weekend tonight in Lan Kwai Fong.
At least four of the teams have expressed interest in moving ahead with their projects. One of them is already committing two people full time to the venture and will be taking up some space in one of the local cowork spaces. At least one of the investors that attended the final pitches has followed up with me and is interested in talking to the teams for potential deals. The overall feedback is that the resulting prototypes and plans were very good quality, and it was difficult for the judges to come up with the outstanding winner.
The next Startup Weekend event will be in 3-6 months. We will be looking at potentially doing a Cantonese version to help reach out to the local community more (although, most participants this time were local Hong Kong Chinese already). If you are interested in the Hong Kong tech startup community, StartupsHK has weekly Startup Monday (#SUMHK) meetups at BootHK, and there are a variety of other events happening in what has turned into a very active and cohesive community in the last two years.