A few years back, we walked into an event being held inside the auditorium at the University of Colombo. This competition was the Motorola SLASSCOM Inter-University Innovation Championship. It was a massive annual competition that saw over 140 students from universities across the island take part. This massive competition is back. However, this time, it’s under a new name, Disrupt 2.0: FutureX.
Organized by SLASSCOM alongside Zebra Technologies, Disrupt 2.0: FutureX is a competition aimed at university students across the island. The competition has been held for 05 consecutive years since 2010. This year, the competition entrusts them with the challenge of developing tech solutions addressing socio-economic issues in Sri Lanka.
Here’s how Disrupt 2.0: FutureX will work
The competition began a few days ago with the official launch that took place at the CIDA Auditorium. With the launch, registrations are now open. The first step is filling out this registration form. The deadline for registrations is the 12th of October. Following the submissions, the top 30 teams will be invited to participate at the “Pitch Your Idea Day” on the 20th of October. On this day, the invited teams get the chance to pitch in front of a panel of judges.
The teams that survive the “Pitch Your Idea Day” will advance to the 3rd stage of the competition. This third stage is the “Critics Day”, which will happen on the 4th of November. Here the teams will be evaluated by a panel of judges on 5 major areas. These areas are the business model, product demo, marketing plan, finance detail and the presentation itself. Here, the teams will be ranked on each of these 5 areas. The purpose being to help them improve on their weak areas before the final stage.
The final stage is the “Demo Day”, which will take place on the 19th of November at Trace Expert City. This is going to be an exhibition. An exhibition opens to the public where the top projects will be on display in booths. But the final hurdle isn’t so simple. The teams that make it this far, have to not only pitch to the public but one final panel of judges. This panel will include representatives from university academia, investors, and industry experts.
Converting a simple university project to a startup
Speaking at the official launch of Disrupt 2.0: FutureX, Dr. Ajit Pasqual – Founder of Paraqum Technologies and a lecturer at the University of Moratuwa, shared how a university project can be a successful startup. He opened his talk with a slide that contained a collection of pictures. These pictures were of advanced devices built by local university students. All of these projects were built to solve a problem.
“All projects are done to solve a problem. Sometimes the problem is clearly defined. Sometimes the problem isn’t so well defined. It’s up to you to define and solve it” – Dr. Ajit Pasqual
Many of these projects are done, to earn marks. As such, they still need quite a bit of work. This is why a definite gap exists between a university project and a market ready product. So what does a team need to do to create a successful startup? Dr. Pasqual shared a few points based on his entrepreneurial experience.
The first of these points was to understand the local environment and paying attention to cultural differences. When executing ideas, these two factors can present challenges for any startup. The second point was that entrepreneurs need to listen. They should listen and pay attention to the little details so as to differentiate themselves. The third point was to patent your idea as fast as possible if no one else has tried it yet. Finally, the entrepreneurs building products should master the technology powering them. It will take a while but there are no shortcuts.
Where do I sign up?
Disrupt 2.0 FutureX is now underway. To take part, all you have to do is fill out this form. After that, it’s the matter of getting ready for the “Pitch Your Idea Day”. As the Digital Media Partners of Disrupt 2.0: FutureX, we’ll be following the competition every step of the way. We wish all the participants the best of luck. May the odds be in your favour.