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Students help launch businesses

Eight businesses were launched in the space of 54 hours during the hospitality edition of StartUp Weekend.

The event was an intensive session during which entrepreneurs worked together in teams to create a minimum viable product (MVP) for a business.

Sponsored by the Bermuda Hospitality Institute, the event led to a record number of students from various schools being involved and working with teams.

More than 40 people participated in proposals and 23 pitched business ideas, including eight-year-old Aaliyah Muhammad and nine-year-old RJ Lightbourne, whose team, Kool Toons, won the People's Choice Mention at the end of the event.

Kool Toons' idea was to develop a website where students aged six to 12 could learn how to code games using tutorials produced by the young duo.

Seven other ideas, many of which had a hospitality focus and ranged from a floating hotel to a nail technicians academy, were peer-selected to proceed to the next stages. Teams were formed and over two days worked to develop and fine-tune the business ideas until they came up with the MVP.

Under the guidance of Ron Ben-Zeev of Startup Global, the teams worked around the clock on Saturday and Sunday. A team of local coaches, consisting of entrepreneurs and business leaders, was on-hand to provide support to the entrepreneurs throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, the eight teams finalised their ideas and pulled together apps, social media pages, and websites and then began pitching to a panel of judges that included Brett Henshilwood of Deloitte, Simon van de Weg of Clarien Bank, Erica Smith of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC), Malika Musson of the Bermuda Hospitality Institute, and Deshay Caines of the Bermuda Business Development Agency.

Judges gave the third-place prize to Passport To Paradise, an app aimed to ease the transition of tourists and newcomers to Bermuda. The second-place prize went to Conscious Products, a wholesaler of compostable containers and cutlery. The first-place prize went to BOFF, an aquaculture business idea focused on providing locally sourced fish to restaurants and consumers.

Startup Weekend Bermuda was coordinated by a team of local entrepreneurs who had participated previously in Startup Weekend and supported by the Department of E-Commerce's Inspire eBusiness initiative and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. Prizes for the Bermuda winning teams were donated by local companies and entrepreneurs who support the local entrepreneurial ecosystem including: Red Bicycle, Into Bermuda, ConnecTech, and SpectroPay. Other sponsors included Deloitte, JD Lewis, Clarien Bank, and the Babson Alumni Club of Bermuda who granted scholarships, while Barritt's provided beverages throughout the entire weekend. Butterfield Bank supplied the venue and all stationery needs.

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Published December 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm (Updated December 15, 2015 at 3:08 am)

Students help launch businesses

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