On Friday evening, approximately 100 women filled the Dialog Auditorium. They took the stage and pitched 32 ideas. Of the ideas that were pitched, they voted to work on 9 ideas over the course of the weekend. The goal was to encourage them to take their first steps as entrepreneurs. Here’s what we saw at the first Startup Weekend Colombo Women’s Edition.
A weekend to encourage female entrepreneurship
By now you might know what Startup Weekends are. The global initiative by Techstars first came to Sri Lanka in 2016. Almost three years later, it has gone to every corner of the island introducing the basics of entrepreneurship to communities in every province.
The 14th edition of this to take place in Sri Lanka focused on empowering female entrepreneurs. This was the idea behind the Startup Weekend Colombo Women’s Edition.
As with all Startup Weekends, this too kicked off with the participants sharing and shortlisting ideas on Friday. On Saturday, they formed teams and began work on them. Finally, on Sunday, they pitched these ideas to a panel of judges.
As the name implies, Smart Makeup wants to help women make better choices regarding their makeup. To do so, they’ve built an app that recommends makeup choices. The first step is simply uploading a photo.
Afterward, the app uses image processing to recommend makeup choices. The team shared that they’d earn money through advertising, commissions from beauticians, and offering a premium subscription.
WF2E (Waste Food 2 Energy)
The next team we saw aimed to help restaurants by building biogas plants. These biogas plants would utilize wasted food to give power to the restaurants. Alongside this, they also aimed to sell fertilizer to agriculture companies.
Initially, these biogas plants would be priced at Rs. 36,000 and aimed at medium-sized restaurants before scaling up. During the Q&A session, the judges quizzed the team on their expected expenses.
This was a team that aimed to make visits to the printer smoother. So they built an app where you can create your designs with a freelance designer. Afterward, you can then place an order to get it printed.
Once printed, they would also deliver the final product to your step. The team shared that during their validation process, they found that students regularly print things and as such are focusing on this segment initially.
The 4th team we saw at Startup Weekend Colombo Women’s Edition aimed to tackle the age-old problem of parking. The team had built an app that allows you to find and reserve a parking spot.
One couldn’t help but notice the similarities to Park and Pay, which we regularly see at competitions. Additionally, the judges also highlighted that in Sri Lanka even reserved parking spaces can be stolen.
Deal n’ Dine
The next team we saw also wanted to tackle the problem of food wastage. Their approach was to take food restaurants might waste and offer it at discounted prices.
During the Q&A session, the judges suggested that they present the idea as tackling it from a different angle. They also added that the team should look at the fine details as some restaurants might only put the food on the app an hour before it’s wasted.
Afterward, we saw a team that aimed to tackle air pollution and fuel consumption. To do so, they had built an app to help you with vehicle maintenance. The app worked by checking the status of your car via an ODB device. With this data then it would recommend you get an emissions test.
The next team we saw at the Startup Weekend Colombo Women’s Edition wanted to offer bicycles as a means of last mile transportation. This is similar to scooters in the US and ones that existed in China.
Currently, the team is aiming at conducting an MVP inside the Open University of Sri Lanka. During this stage, it would offer bikes at Rs. 1 per minute or on a subscription basis.
And then we saw a team of university students. They took the stage and shared that like many of their batch mates, they’re not proficient in cooking and are restricted by budgets.
So to help their fellow students, they want to build an app that helps you find recipes of whatever you can cook with what’s in your fridge. These can also be filtered by preferences and you can also upload your own recipes.
The final team we saw take the stage at Startup Weekend Colombo Women’s Edition was an eco-friendly gift marketplace. They allow you to find eco-friendly gifts and also offer aim to offer eco-friendly gift wrapping options for your gifts. These would be sourced from vendors whom they’d take a 2% commission.
The winners of the first Startup Weekend Colombo Women’s Edition
At the end of 54 hours, the winning team at the first Startup Weekend Colombo Women’s Edition was Deal N’ Dine. Alongside them, we saw WF2E win second place and Print Intake in third place.