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Lessons to be gleaned from Startup Weekend

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Finding solutions: a discussion in full flow during the well-attended Startup Weekend

Forty-two entrepreneurs came together for 54 hours last weekend to pitch potential businesses, build teams and to develop their ideas into market-validated proofs of concept. A staggering 26 among them showed the courage of their conviction and pitched to the crowd. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem has come a long way in the past few years, and the results give me full faith in our country’s ability to provide home-grown solutions to social problems and market pain points.

Many underserved and longstanding national needs were addressed over the weekend. These solutions ranged from improving accessibility for our national transport infrastructure to creating a more efficient form of connecting high school graduates with the skills required by employers reliant on entry-level foreign workers.

One business in particular highlighted what is needed for Bermudian entrepreneurs to capitalise on the many America’s Cup-related opportunities three months from now. School Boxes created a minimum viable product in 54 hours and took home first prize on the weekend by satisfying a demand that appears only once per year during a month-long window and then disappears. The team did not rely on vast business creation experience and created a model that required almost no financing.

Anyone struggling to figure how they can make money from the America’s Cup should look no farther than School Boxes’ business model. Importantly, focus your energy on how to remove every element of fixed costs.

The America’s Cup will bring a staggering volume of business that is already leaving even the biggest of established businesses overwhelmed. Our ability as a people to seize these opportunities will come down to our tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit. Start now. Get informed. Seek support.

The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, in conjunction with the ACBDA, is offering a number of seminars highlighting the many needs that still need to be serviced. Two of our business development officers have been seconded to the ACBDA to assist businesses in getting America’s Cup-ready. The BEDC is also here to provide financial support through our loan guarantee and soon to be re-established microloan programmes.

Nick Kempe is the chairman of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation