Startup Weekend is a global online event made for entrepreneurs around the world to commune, learn from established figures from various industries, and to pitch their own ideas. Bringing together hundreds of participants from over 70 countries, the event is organized by QBO Innovation Hub, with support from Acceler8 and Canva. The collaboration between public and private institutions aims to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to begin their own startups. In the Philippines, the event attracted a total of 242 attendees, who composed the 17 participating teams. Typically held over the course of 54 hours, this year’s event was scheduled from April 24 to 26.
Given the current lockdown situation, Techstars opted to bring the event online through Zoom. They also saw the opportunity for innovation to address different aspects of the pandemic situation. Entitled Global Online Startup Weekend Unite to Fight Covid-19, this year’s participants were tasked to develop ideas around finding solutions to the various problems caused by the pandemic.
After two rounds of competition, Team Saliksik emerged as the winning team by creating a platform for researchers to acquire financial support through crowdfunding. The team sought to address the inactivity forced upon researchers due to the current lockdowns, even if their work could be crucial to the fight against COVID-19. Their creation is all the more needed during the pandemic, considering that the processing of government grants has been further delayed because of the pandemic. Although crowdfunding is not meant to replace the government grants, Saliksik.ph hopes for their platform to serve as an additional supplement for researchers. Team Saliksik is composed of Jill Manapat, Carlo Pablo, Mai Casuela, Anthony Basang, Paul Cualteros, Senando Angelo Santiago, and Vincent Malbas.
Team Coronavirus Tracer, led by Dr. Ryan Corpuz, won second place for their pitch to use nano-particle technology to attach to the virus, allowing it to be visible to the naked eye and traceable under UV lights. Their aim was to address the inability to physically detect the presence of the virus, especially on commonly touched surfaces.
Led by Iman Aqas, Team Follow the Money won third place for their idea to bring transparency to charities through a Kickstarter-like platform that verifies and manages disbursements of their funds. The project hopes to address mistrust or fear of scams, and consequently promoting support for charities. “We empower both fundraisers and donors, and wreak havoc on the dishonest,” said Agas.
Teams BayongXpress and Neighbourly were also given Honorable Mentions for the competition.
The event was officially opened by host and facilitator, John Dave Del Rosario, the senior program lead for ecosystem development at QBO Innovation Hub and an alumnus of Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative in 2018. For his opening remarks, David Brown, co-founder and CEO of Techstars, sent a recorded video about the importance of entrepreneurs in creating ideas and solutions for the global pandemic today. Guest speaker Noel E. Del Castillo, founder and CEO of SeeYouDoc, talked about the specific issues surrounding the COVID-19 situation which the participating teams can address in their startup solutions.
“Though the format of the event had each team competing with each other, the innovation and creativity brought on by Saliksik, Coronavirus Tracer, and Follow the Money make winners out of us all,” said Pancho Dizon of Ambidextr, a Makati-based end-to-end content marketing studio that was a partner of the event. “There’s no doubt that their creations will be game-changers in the Filipino fight against COVID-19. It just goes to show that startups truly are the future.”
Watch the live pitches here.