Monday, November 2, 2015

Merchise Startup Circle meetup and Startup Weekend

The Merchise Startup Circle, which has been encouraging Cuban software startups for some time has organized a Havana Startup Weekend for November 6-8.

Here is the weekend schedule:
  • Friday evening people will present short proposals for startups and those voted best will be worked on during the weekend. Teams will be formed around the chosen ideas so people will collaborate and learn from each other.
  • Saturday, the teams will meet at 9 AM and work on their proposed projects with the assistance of technical and business mentors. There will be food and the teams can work late into the night if they want to.
  • Sunday will be for demos and judging. The winners will advance to compete in the regional event of the Global Startup Battle..
Merchise will also host a meetup the day before the Startup Weekend, Thursday November 5.

They've had some trouble with the online registration system -- if you have trouble send an email to giving your name and a brief description of your background, like "Programmer/freelancer/ruby & prolog" or "graphic designer/etc").

You can also check it out on Facebook or Twitter.

I wish I could there!

Update 11/9/2015

Forty eight people took part in the weekend and 27 projects were proposed. The group voted on the proposals and selected eight to be worked on by teams during the rest of the weekend.

At the end of the weekend, the jury awarded first place to My Storefront, an app to enable people to exchange used clothing; second place went to the team working on Help Yourself, an app that matches recipes to the ingredients in your refrigerator, and third place went to Up Up, an app for creating off line posts on social networks. Sport City, a community of sports fans in the city, received an honorable mention.

Here is a five minute video giving a quick recap of the Startup Weekend and the projects people worked on:

For more words and pictures, check out @swhavana.

My guess is that the exchange of ideas and energy and new connections among people was the most important result of the meeting -- what next?

Update 11/14/2015

Third place in the Startup Weekend went to an app for creating off-line posts to social networks -- an app well suited to a place with Cuba's minimal connectivity. If I had been there, I would have proposed an app that went in the other direction.

I would like a program or an Internet service that would take a blog like this one, and convert it to a single file in a common format like Word or PDF. That would allow me to create a snapshopt of the entire history of the blog -- including links, images and comments -- and share it with people in Cuba who do not have fast, online access to it.

The blog is on Google's Blogger site, so I would have to supply the template and current XML file with the contents. If it was being read off-line, the posts would be readily available and, since most of the links are internal to the blog, they would work also. External links would require a live Internet connection.

If someone built such an app for Blogger and for Wordpress, most blogs could be read off-line in Cuba.

Update 11/17/2015

More Startup Weekend video -- a lot of energy and enthusiasm!

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