Cyprus Mail

Got an idea? Startup Weekend is for you

Organisers expect 100 young entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas during the Startup Weekend Cyprus next month

Progress needs a change of tack, not a repetition of the events that brought Cyprus to its current state, and the best way to achieve progress is to encourage young entrepreneurs to develop novel ideas, such as those that will be pitched at the Startup Weekend Cyprus early next month.

The first Startup Weekend to be held at the University of Nicosia Research and Technology Centre on December 6-8, will give people from varied backgrounds (technical, academic, marketing-related, etc.) the opportunity to pitch their ideas and work in teams to present their business plan to a panel of experts. The event involves two and a half days of creating business models, coding, designing and identifying viable markets. It may sound frenzied, but previous events in Cyprus and abroad have proven this model to be successful in sieving through a bunch of ideas to target startups with potential.

While young people boast excellent qualifications, they often have slim employment chances.

Some 40.3 per cent of the under-25s were unemployed in the second quarter of 2013, while 35 per cent of all unemployed had higher education, according to government statistics. Meanwhile, over a third of the unemployed have been looking for a job for over a year and Cyprus is bracing itself for a deeper recession next year.

“The solution is not in repetition, but in change,” said Lydia Zanettou, curator of Startup Weekend. She has already been involved in other projects including Startup Live Cyprus, which gave three startups the opportunity this year to reach out to markets outside the confines of Cyprus.

Mary-Lou Stavrinou, the marketing manager of major sponsor Microsoft Cyprus, said they were supporting the event as part of their global YouthSpark initiative, launched last year with the goal to offer about 300m young people access to programmes relating to education, employment and entrepreneurship. Microsoft is betting on youth entrepreneurship as a key driver to economic growth.

“We support Startup Weekend Cyprus, urging the youth to take full advantage of the possibilities afforded by technology and to develop their entrepreneurial skills in the digital world,” Stavrinou said.

Startup Weekend Cyprus will be limited to 100 participants and is being supported by PwC, Hellenic Bank and MTN. The global Startup Weekend concept claims to comprise the biggest community of entrepreneurs with some 400 past events in more 100 countries since 2011.

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