11 Local Budding Entrepreneurs Attended YSEALI in Cyberjaya (BruDirect (Brunei))

Eleven aspiring young entrepreneurs from Brunei attended the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Generation: Startup Weekend Asean 2015, from August 4 to 6.

A total of 110 participants from all Asean member states made their way to the Malaysian Global Innovation Centre (MaGIC) in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, having been selected from hundreds of applicants in the region.

As part of US President Barack Obama’s Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative, these participants underwent a crash course in building a startup through the Startup Weekend programme.

Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups. At this event, the participants were joined by 40 mentors from 14 countries with backgrounds ranging from software design to marketing and business.

Representing Brunei as mentors were Aimi and Mark Harbison from Tyne Solutions Sdn Bhd. The participants started the programme on Tuesday with open microphone pitches where 100 people brought their best ideas and inspired others to join their team. The group then voted for the top 30 ideas, around which teams were formed.

Throughout day two, teams focused on customer development, validating their ideas, practising ‘Lean Startup Methodologies’ and building a minimal viable product (MVP). In the afternoon, the group had a great surprise visitor in the form of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who came in for a question-and-answer session with the entire group.

Day three had teams focused on refining their product and pitch as they had their first round of pitching that evening. The top nine pitches were then selected by mentors for the final round, which was judged by a panel that included Andrew Hyde, founder of the Startup Weekend, Dash, the founder of Startup Malaysia and Adnan Mahmud, the co-founder of Jolkona.

Among the many great ideas, winners were chosen based on their business model, customer validation and execution and design. First place went to Apollo Asean, a team that included Bruneian graphics designer, Shuu, with their idea for a revolutionary phone flip case that can wirelessly charge their phones using harvested solar and kinetic energy.

Their grand prize was an all expense paid trip to Seattle for one-week immersion programme at Jolkona and $1,000 Malaysian ringgit. Second and third place winners won all expense paid trips to Kuala Lumpur and cash prizes.

For more information on future Startup Weekend events, individual’s can visit youngsoutheastasianleaders.state.gov.

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