Archive for News

Pakistan WECreate Project Announced by U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson

StartUp Cup is thrilled to be the WECreate Project co-creation and implementation partner with U.S. State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program and look forward to beginning development of the Islamabad WECreate Center with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues Full Partnership Fund, TiE Islamabad and Change Mechanics.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson with participants of the “Women in the Workplace” seminar at the Islamabad Club

Islamabad, June 17, 2014 - During his opening remarks at the “Women in the Workplace Seminar,” U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson called for more female-friendly employment practices on a global scale. “Our shared economic potential is bright, but in order to achieve it, we need to encourage, cultivate, and harness the untapped talent and productivity of women across the globe. It must happen in every country on every continent. Achieving shared global prosperity is only possible if we reduce gender gaps in the workforce.”

Ambassador Olson also announced the United States Government’s support of the “WECREATE” project, a women’s entrepreneurship community center that will be based in Islamabad. The Center will provide new and emerging women entrepreneurs access to the mentorship and expert assistance they need to grow their businesses which has a multiplier effect on economies. The program is funded by the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues Full Partnership Fund, which has a mandate to support gender equality and women’s empowerment initiatives. Read the full Press Release here.

TCC StartUp Cup Generates $85,100,000 Economic Impact

2013-TCC-StartUp-Cup-1-crop-500-500x310

CleanNG accepting the 2013 Tulsa Community College StartUp Cup $30,000 Grand Prize Sponsored by Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation.

June 25, 2014 update: During the launch of the 8th Annual TCC StartUp Cup, the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation announced revised economic impact numbers for the TCC StartUp Cup and they come in at a staggering $85,100,000. This represents a greater economic impact than all the other entrepreneurial programs in Tulsa, Oklahoma combined. We look forward to integrating the entire StartUp Cup global network economic impact numbers and sharing with in our 2014 impact report. Read more about TCC StartUp Cup’s impact on Tulsa’s economy in this Tulsa World article.

May 15, 2014 post: We are thrilled to learn that the economic impact of the Tulsa Community College StartUp Cup is an impressive $57,729,297 since launching in 2007 according to a new Tulsa’s Entrepreneurial Landscape Report released on May 14th by the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation. The Lobeck  Taylor Family Foundation are also the sponsors of the TCC StartUp Cup. Additional highlights include the creation of 2,300 jobs and over $11,067.000 of follow-on investment as a direct results of the StartUp Cup acceleration program.

 

Putting a Dent in Palestine’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Initial Results From Palestine StartUp Cup Entrepreneur Tour Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, USAID and Silatech.

A small team of StartUp Cup mentors, entrepreneurial ecosystem architects, and graphic facilitators traveled to Palestine January 7 – January 12, 2014 to support launching the inaugural Palestine StartUp Cup accelerator program and business model competition, organized by ConnectME. Along with conducting an extreme business model and startup building workshop we had one goal in mind, to put a meaningful dent in Palestine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Extreme Build-A-Business Workshops
Palestine_SCup_Post_3The first goal of our visit was to support increasing the quality and quantity of local coaches and mentors in the Palestine entrepreneurial community. We began our task by training a total of 26 local seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders on the entrepreneurial mindset, techniques for coaching entrepreneurs, business model design, bootstrapping, and accelerated go-to-market strategies. Immediately following the mentor training session we launched into a two-day Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend program where the freshly certified mentors applied their new coaching skills with the local entrepreneurs competing in the Palestine StartUp Cup. The result was an increased focus on team development, bootstrapping techniques, business model design, customer development, assumption testing, and revenue generation.

Startup Mentoring Goals
1) To support each startup team in understanding that they needed to learn and take a long view beyond the business idea in order to advance their startup. It was important to introduce each team to the entrepreneurial mindset and visual thinking as a foundation for startup success.

Palestine_SCup_Post_1

2) To share the key elements of business model design (Using the Business Model Scorecard) including: customer development strategies, revenue model development, team building, bootstrapping techniques, and accelerated go-to-market strategies.

3) To inspire startup teams to take action and start testing their customer and business model assumptions by going out and acquiring customers, securing key licenses and certificates required to start their company, self-funding, and start selling their product(s) or service(s) right away.

4) To train a collection of Palestine mentors and StartUp Cup judges on business model design, accelerated customer development, and go-to-market strategies that support entrepreneurs to launch their startups quickly and, in the process, acquire customers, generate revenue, and/or secure funding.

 

The Results

  • 48 startup teams;
  • 520 coaching sessions;
  • 26 coaches and mentors;
  • 92% of all startup teams invited to participate in the extreme startup coaching workshop participated in the Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend;
  • 96% Startup teams will utilize the training learned in their personal lives whether they start a company or not;
  • 91% of startup teams improved their chances to launch their business
  • 84% of startup teams went out and engaged customers working to validate their business model;
  • 95% of startup teams readjusted their business models, including target customer, revenue model, and go-to-market strategy;
  • 89% of entrepreneurs are more willing to take risks to start and build their business
  • 91% of entrepreneurs are more willing to encourage family and friends to start a business
  • StartUp Cup-trained mentors coached 520 fifteen minute high impact Business Model Scorecard sessions with 48 startup teams using accelerated go-to-market and bootstrapping techniques;
  • Announced the Palestine StartUp Cup Top 25 that advanced into the first round of live business model pitching sessions;

Lessons Learned

  • Palestine entrepreneurs have original ideas that are designed to maximize the unique strengths of the territory;
  • Female founders represented 32% of all startups;
  • Strong desire to create a viable business. Natural “team” developmenPalsetine_SCup_Post_2t approach;
  • Quality of entrepreneurs participating was a priority over quantity within the entrepreneurial ecosystem and specifically for the Palestine StartUp Cup Organizers;
  • The StartUp Cup Bootstrap StartUp process is extremely effective (Entrepreneurial Mindset, Business Model Design, Team Development, Customer Engagement, Revenue Generation, and Tailored One-On-One Mentoring);
  • The Business Model Scorecard accelerates learning, designing and the building of a viable business;
  • The StartUp Cup process has the potential to change lives and empower people around the world to create their own career path;

Next Steps
Palestine StartUp Cup Sponsors and Organizers, the U.S. State Department,  DAI/USAID, Siletech and ConnectME understand that to be successful, the measurement of short and long-term startup success and ensuring the sustainability of the Palestine StartUp Cup program to grow jobs and viable businesses, is of paramount importance. To this effort the U.S. State Department, USAID, Silatech and MEConnect are committed to support the long-term success of Palestine StartUp Cup. Working with Palestine StartUp Cup Organizers and the U.S. State Department, USAID and Silatech we will measure the impact of startup teams to create viable businesses and grow jobs. We will also monitor the impact of mentors trained to actively coach business model design and accelerated go-to-market strategies. Meaningful entrepreneurial ecosystem growth takes years, not months. StartUp Cup remains committed to being actively involved in the process of advancing Palestine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including ongoing research and future Extreme Build-A-Business events and the creation of a WECreate Center in planning stages for 2014.

Acknowledgments
Thank you to the U.S. State Department, USAID, Silatech, Global Entrepreneurship Program, and ConnectME, for sponsoring the StartUp Cup mentoring team’s visit and for supporting the launch of Palestine StartUp Cup accelerator program and business model competition in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Thank you to the amazing Palestine StartUp Cup organizing team of Randa Masri, Ayman Awartani, and Lamees Abdeljalil for their efforts to mobilize and orchestrate such an amazing collection of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial champions. You have set a new bar for StartUp Cups around the world to emulate.

Thank you to the great entrepreneurs of Palestine. You inspire us! You are the reason we work so hard to support the growth of entrepreneurialism around the globe. We look forward to our next Palestine Entrepreneur Tour.

Thank you to Tanya Hiple, Caron DeMars and Lorraine Harrington at the U.S. State Department for your confidence in our ability to put a dent in Palestine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. A special thanks to Shelly Porges, former Senior Advisor of Global Entrepreneurship with the U.S. State Department for being the catalyst of the Palestine Entrepreneur Tour.

And last but certainly not least, thank you to the StartUp Cup Global mentoring team that lead the Palestine Entrepreneur Tour, Sean Griffin and Tanya Hiple. Your impact on Palestine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem will be felt for years to come.

 

 

Go-Fig Solutions Wins First World StartUp Cup

March 6, 2014 – Yerevan, Armenia – Go-Fig Solutions of Pakistan StartUp Cup is the winner of the first ever World StartUp Cup. Go-Fig was announced winner in Yerevan, Armenia on 6 March 201 4 at Tumo where seven of the world’s most promising startups competed for the opportunity of a lifetime, pitching their business models to an international panel of StartUp Cup judges. Teams from Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, Russia, Philippines, Lebanon and Ghana will be competing for the title of the first World StartUp Cup winner!

Go-Fig wins: Thousands of dollars in potential investment, higher levels of exposure to customers and investors and, of course, the best thing of all – bragging rights.

Second place winner is Bravehearts Expeditions of Ghana StartUp Cup and third place goes to Oriense of St. Petersburg StartUp Cup.

The World StartUp Cup will bring together seven first place winners from over 21 local StartUp Cups that competed for a finalist spot from around the globe. Currently there are 68 StartUp Cup Business Model Competitions in 57 countries. The first place winners from each local competition that holds their awards celebration from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013 were eligible to enter into the World StartUp Cup competition. Winners of the local competition competed virtually for one of the seven available spots. The selected entrepreneurs will present their business models to an international panel of judges comprised of local StartUp Cups around the world.

“The World StartUp Cup is a high-impact event designed to showcase and celebrate the world’s most promising entrepreneurs and startups from every conceivable industry. Armenia was one of the first StartUp Cups ever to be held outside the United States, and it is especially fitting that we are hosting the first annual World StartUp Cup in Yerevan”, said Sean Griffin, CEO and Founder of StartUp Cup. During the event world-acclaimed motivational speaker from the USA Jeff Hoffman addressed the audience of entrepreneurs and guests.

Yerevan was selected from a number of interested cities from around the world based on their commitment to developing a robust ecosystem where entrepreneurship growth is a priority.

The presenters of World StartUp Cup in Armenia are Upostrophe and Tumo Center For Creative Technologies, dedicated leader in promoting innovation in Armenia. The event is supported by USAID funded Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) Project, IAB Training Center, Ayb School, Deem Communications, Printinfo, AYWA, Armenia StartUp Cup, State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program and Kauffman’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“We are extremely happy and proud to host the first World StartUp Cup”, said Tumo Rep. “It is inspiring to see the growing impact of StartUp Cup on Armenia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the ongoing support from community partners to feature entrepreneurship as a powerful path to sustained economic growth.”

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About Startup Cup
StartUp Cup is a global network of 68 accelerators “without walls” featuring business model competitions in more than 57 countries. This proven model to grow jobs and entrepreneurial ecosystems can be replicated in any community. StartUp Cup is a Featured Event of Global Entrepreneurship Week and is an Official Partner of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Entrepreneurship Program. For more information visit startupcup.com.

About Upostrophe Foundation
Upostrophe Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Yerevan, Armenia dedicated to fostering collaboration among youth, government and the private sector to benefit entrepreneurs and drive the ecosystem in Armenia.

About Tumo
Tumo is a new kind of after-school learning environment where thousands of students aged 12-18 are in charge of their own learning. Guided by skilled educators and mentored by media professionals, students navigate through their personal learning plans via the Tumo World, a special learning interface that prepares them for hands-on practice. Specialized workshops, guest lectures and community events give students a chance to apply their knowledge and skills to the world around them.

About Jeff Hoffman
Jeff Hoffman is a successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker. In his career, he has been the founder of multiple startups, he has been the CEO of both public and private companies, and he has served as a senior executive in many capacities. Jeff has been part of a number of well-known companies, including Priceline.com. uBid.com, CTI, ColorJar, and more.

TUMO Center For Creative Technologies to Host First Annual World StartUp Cup

WSCupMarch 4, 2014 – Yerevan, Armenia – The first ever World StartUp Cup will be taking place in Yerevan, Armenia on 6 March 201 4 at Tumo. Seven of the world’s most promising startups have the opportunity of a lifetime, pitching their business models to an international panel of StartUp Cup judges. Teams from Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, Russia, Philippines, Lebanon and Ghana will be competing for the title of the first World StartUp Cup winner!

At stake: Thousands of dollars in potential investment, higher levels of exposure to customers and investors and, of course, the best thing of all – bragging rights.

The World StartUp Cup will bring together seven first place winners from over 21 local StartUp Cups that competed for a finalist spot from around the globe. Currently there are 68 StartUp Cup Business Model Competitions in 57 countries. The first place winners from each local competition that holds their awards celebration from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013 were eligible to enter into the World StartUp Cup competition. Winners of the local competition competed virtually for one of the seven available spots. The selected entrepreneurs will present their business models to an international panel of judges comprised of local StartUp Cups around the world.

“The World StartUp Cup is a high-impact event designed to showcase and celebrate the world’s most promising entrepreneurs and startups from every conceivable industry. Armenia was one of the first StartUp Cups ever to be held outside the United States, and it is especially fitting that we are hosting the first annual World StartUp Cup in Yerevan”, said Sean Griffin, CEO and Founder of StartUp Cup. During the event world-acclaimed motivational speaker from the USA Jeff Hoffman will address the audience of entrepreneurs and guests.

Yerevan was selected from a number of interested cities from around the world based on their commitment to developing a robust ecosystem where entrepreneurship growth is a priority.

The presenters of World StartUp Cup in Armenia are Upostrophe and Tumo Center For Creative Technologies, dedicated leader in promoting innovation in Armenia. The event is supported by USAID funded Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) Project, IAB Training Center, Ayb School, Deem Communications, Printinfo, AYWA, Armenia StartUp Cup, State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program and Kauffman’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“We are extremely happy and proud to host the first World StartUp Cup”, said Tumo Rep. “It is inspiring to see the growing impact of StartUp Cup on Armenia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the ongoing support from community partners to feature entrepreneurship as a powerful path to sustained economic growth.”

xxx

About Startup Cup
StartUp Cup is a global network of 68 accelerators “without walls” featuring business model competitions in more than 57 countries. This proven model to grow jobs and entrepreneurial ecosystems can be replicated in any community. StartUp Cup is a Featured Event of Global Entrepreneurship Week and is an Official Partner of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Entrepreneurship Program. For more information visit startupcup.com.

About Upostrophe Foundation
Upostrophe Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Yerevan, Armenia dedicated to fostering collaboration among youth, government and the private sector to benefit entrepreneurs and drive the ecosystem in Armenia.

About Tumo
Tumo is a new kind of after-school learning environment where thousands of students aged 12-18 are in charge of their own learning. Guided by skilled educators and mentored by media professionals, students navigate through their personal learning plans via the Tumo World, a special learning interface that prepares them for hands-on practice. Specialized workshops, guest lectures and community events give students a chance to apply their knowledge and skills to the world around them.

About Jeff Hoffman
Jeff Hoffman is a successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker. In his career, he has been the founder of multiple startups, he has been the CEO of both public and private companies, and he has served as a senior executive in many capacities. Jeff has been part of a number of well-known companies, including Priceline.com. uBid.com, CTI, ColorJar, and more.

serVme Sees Global Potential and Competes for World StartUp Cup

Growing up in Canada and becoming a financial investment consultant working in London and Dubai gave Karl Atiyeh opportunity to see global business on many levels. When he moved to his family’s home in Lebanon in late 2012, he observed and was navigating the cultural and economic differences and obstacles his country of origin was facing. “There is a lot of talent here and good education opportunities,” says Karl, “[but] in the face of political and geopolitical challenges, career opportunities are limited.” The MENA (Middle East North Africa) Region, of which Lebanon is part, has the highest unemployment rate in the world, but Karl is determined to stay and help move the needle in this unique environment where he states, “Entrepreneurship is one of the only opportunities you have.”servme

One difference that caught Karl’s attention also started his company. His limited access to restaurants due to a combination of not knowing anyone and not wanting to spend precious international call time on making reservations, sparked an idea that resulted in the company serVme . Karl and his business partner Sarah Hawilo, both career consultants, took full advantage of one of the few entrepreneurship accelerator options and entered the Bader StartUp Cup  during the very beginning stages of their company. “When we joined the StartUp Cup, we had done the market research, outlined our business plan, and started the process of registering the company and designing the app.” The app they’d conceived was straightforward as an interactive tool to help make reservations at restaurants, clubs and bars. As they progressed through the StartUp Cup process of business modeling and mentorship from the local business community, they began to uncover a market where data can be collected for business owners to utilize for marketing to customers, tracking customer habits and preferences, and improving operational efficiencies. “The value-add was the data collection, since marketing channels available in Lebanon are very traditional. Building from data allows for fixed and variable revenue streams, making it as different as the clients we serve. So our focus and core is obtaining the data.” states Karl.

One of the biggest benefits during the StartUp Cup was learning from mentors who had been through what they were facing, “It was good to bounce ideas off of someone who has been through the technological development process in Lebanon.” Additionally, the inclusive process was a healthy integration into the community, “I am Lebonese, but was new to living there. I felt they appreciated that I was trying to integrate into the ecosystem. They have done a really good job of helping inform me about it.” says Karl.

The team was the Bader StartUp Cup winner and recently secured a Top 7 finalist spot in the World StartUp Cup 2014 . Still, hard work and dedication is needed for the company to continue to grow and, one day, thrive. They are in the testing phases of their app and are bootstrapping their company toward success. They have an extremely cautious eye on cash management. While their winning has given them credibility and their mentors introduced them to an investor network, Karl gives new entrepreneurs his, now experienced, advice, “Plan your cash needs carefully as this will be one of the most difficult part of the business. Yet it is also its life blood.”

serVme is looking forward to competing in the World StartUp Cup on March 5th and 6th,  “The global nature [of World StartUp Cup] would give us a lot of credibility abroad and network potential.” They note that the substantial fortitude and tenacity it takes to be an entrepreneur in the Middle East as well as the international appeal of their product is a strategic advantage of their company in a world competition. Still, they feel it important to recognize all of those involved in building whatever level success they achieve. “Bader has been a big help and they deserve all credit they get in building the entrepreneurial ecosystem here… StartUp Cup has been significant in getting us to where we are. Any bit of success we have is attributable the process.”

We admire your continued resolve toward excellence in your journey toward success, serVme, and wish you luck at the World StartUp Cup! Follow them on twitter  @serVmeco

 

 

 

 

World StartUp Cup 2014 Finalist: Qwikwire, of the Philippines

      “The right time to do what is right is always now,” says Ray Edison Refundo, Co-Founder and CEO of Qwikwire , a company designed to help simplify selling and billing for freelancers and othQwikwireer merchants.

     Qwikwire specializes in cross-border e-commerce, providing people with no bank accounts or credit cards a way to accept payments for online transactions. Their goal is nothing less than the true globalization of e-commerce. They’ll do this by providing a new way to do business across the globe.

     Enabling cross-border e-commerce, especially overseas, used to take weeks. Not anymore. Qwikwire can get your business up and running in a new, cross-border market within minutes. Using search engine data and social media results, Qwikwire’s system validates user identification quickly, giving them full access to a merchant account in their target market far more quickly than can be done through traditional channels.

     The mission is “to empower” business owners and Qwikwire had been making that happen for nearly a year before entering the Philippines StartUp Cup. Mr. Refundo reports that since entering the competition, revenue has gone up. He says the competition has prompted him to focus more on actual customer needs rather than acting based on untested assumptions about his market.

     Refundo and a team of seven spent months developing their website and digital infrastructure. At the same time, they had to fight through a lot of bureaucratic red tape. Qwikwire had to repeatedly contact government officials to make sure all of their paperwork came together appropriately. This was Qwikwire’s biggest challenge, Refundo says.

     The StartUp Cup led the Qwikwire team into new territory. Originally targeted at cross-border freelancing, the Qwikwire business model changed during the competition. The StartUp Cup challenged Refundo and his partners, Jason Foldi and Scott Yu, to take a hard look at their market. They found a much larger market waited for them. The overseas billing and invoicing market for non-freelancer companies was a market twenty times larger than their initial target.

     Qwikwire made the shift. Their revenue followed, growing in a way it wouldn’t have had they stayed the pre-StartUp Cup course. They found, also, that they had less trouble in this new market with fraudulent transactions, disputes and chargebacks, which are common in e-commerce. Their B2B approach keeps the system safer, with less opportunity for hackers to cause trouble.

     The StartUp Cup competition taught the team how to deal with intra-company issues as well. Disagreements among company leaders happen. Qwikwire learned new ways to resolve those issues and keep the business, and its revenue stream, flowing.

     Winning the Philippines StartUp Cup shot Qwikwire into the limelight, attracting the attention of professional mentors and potential investors. Qwikwire’s future is even brighter, now, for having participated in the competition.

     Refundo says the StartUp Cup competition also improved the entrepreneurial future of the Philippines as a region. Most people, he says, “just want to work for a paycheck.” For those people, safety and predictability are paramount..

     But no venture is without risk. Entrepreneurs, if they are to be successful, must be prepared for potential failure. With the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Philippines, driven in part by the StartUp Cup “the tolerance for failure is increasing,” Refundo says, “and it’s a good thing.”

     CEO Refundo says he is “honored and excited” to be a part of the World StartUp Cup. He advises anyone thinking of participating to “be ready to be wrong.” “From the moment you start your business,” he says, “you’re already wrong on a hundred different things. The key to success is to figure out the right path before you run out of money.”

     With the mentorship of the StartUp Cup judging panel and the rigorous process of the competition, the Qwikwire has definitely found the right path to customer satisfaction and solid revenue growth. You don’t get more successful than that.

     If you are a freelancer or merchant in the Philippines, Qwikwire is looking for you as a possible beta tester as they develop new services. You can find Qwikwire on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Qwikwire. Follow them on twitter @Qwikwire.

World StartUp Cup Announces The Final Seven

WSCupThe World StartUp Cup final seven startups and entrepreneurs have been selected, and will continue to pitch live during the final round at the first World StartUp Cup, held March 5th & 6th, 2014 in Yerevan, Armenia. The seven startups were selected out of 12 teams competing in the semi-final round by an international panel of experienced and successful StartUp Cup judges as well as over 2,000 public votes cast from 48 countries. These finalists will have a chance to win thousands of dollars in mentoring and prizes to be officially announced at the award celebration March 6th, 2014, followed by a day of pitching.

Eligibility to enter the first World StartUp Cup consisted of first place startups in local StartUp Cups, and who held their award celebrations from January 1 through December 31, 2013. These startups represent some of the world’s most promising entrepreneurs, perfecting their business models during an intensive 6-7 month mentor driven acceleration program featuring business model competitions.

The World StartUp Cup Seven Finalists are:

Creato Tec | Alexandria StartUp Cup

Go-Fig | Pakistan StartUp Cup 

L H Learning Group | Malaysia StartUp Cup 

Oriense | St. Petersburg StartUp Cup 

Qwikwire | Philippines StartUp Cup

serVme | Lebanon StartUp Cup  

BraveHearts Expeditions | Ghana StartUp Cup (Public Choice) 

World StartUp Cup 2014 in Yerevan, Armenia is presented by UpostropheStartUp Cup is a Featured Event of Global Entrepreneurship Week, and is an Official Partner of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Entrepreneurship Program and USAID.

Go-Fig Solutions Solving World Problem While Working Toward World StartUp Cup

Binish Bhagwanee caught the attention of the Pakistan StartUp Cup mentors early on with her confident and definite answer to their question about the value proposition of Go-Fig Solutions, “To end terrorism.” She would go on to tell them, “Terrorism is a problem and we have a solution.” The issue of terrorism is not isolated to her home country of Pakistan, but it is a problem they know too well, and Go-Fig feels they have the ability, technology and drive to make a difference world-wide.Go-Fig_Ambassador

Founder and CEO, Dr. Zeeshan Usmani has a vast academic career that include being a Fulbright Scholar and Eisenhower Fellow. He earned his PhD in Computer Science at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL in 2009 and returned to Pakistan shortly after. In 2011 he joined Interactive Group as Chief of Research and his PhD thesis, “Modeling and Simulation of Suicide Bombing”, was published in the form of a book that same year. During all of his education and working years, Dr. Usmani felt compelled to do more and continually aimed higher. In 2013, he left his job and ventured out to reach for that higher cause. He wanted to save lives.

“After three months I was beginning to get discouraged. We were getting no response.” says Dr. Usmani. BlastSim, a simulation and modeling of suicide bombings for risk mitigation and planning, was their flagship product for counter-terrorism and it was ready for market. “We had the idea, the technology, the product, but no one was interested.” Members of his team, including Binish and Sana Rasheed, approached him about entering the StartUp Cup. He was skeptical about what benefits the process would bring them, but they entered the accelerator competition and he sent them to the Build-a-Business Weekend in Islamabad. They returned with news they had been selected as a 2014_Pakistan_Winners_GoFigtop 25 company. Dr. Usmani was surprised, but the tools, energy and clarity around how to market their business that they brought back with them were inspiring. He joined them in the competition and they continued winning, ultimately taking the top prize out of over 170 startup teams. “We were scientists, technologists, not business people.” he says. Binish credits the mentorship and advice as a large part of their success through the weeks of the process. “They gave us help in what to say and not to say, how to market ourselves, and provided the right contacts.” she states.

Go-Fig (short for “Go-Figure-it-Out”) put those mentorship lessons into practice and their company increased their revenue by $35,000 USD during the competition. By continuing to listen and learn, they have since secured an investment of $200,000 USD. “Our confidence skyrocketed!” smiles Dr. Usmani. Among other clients, the company is working with Duke University and Dr. Usmani will be a keynote speaker at Brown University in February.

The company is now growing at a rapid rate. “Where we used to have problems of survival, we now have problems of managing 25 people and meeting the demands of the requests.” The team has 11 full time and 14 part time positions. 70% of the company is female due to their focus on creating flexibility for women with small children who have earned their University degrees and are encouraged to utilize their knowledge, skills and talents while raising their families. As they are still growing, they are working to build the human resources infrastructure to support the purpose of their company. “We want to find good people with empathy, to feel the pain of the crimes that are happening. To know what it is to be human, to think beyond themselves to their country and the world.”

Dr. Usmani and Binish know first-hand, and recently, the pain of these crimes. While returning from the Pakistan StartUp Cup award ceremony, they and their 10 year old son were robbed of all their belongings and beaten. The police took their statement, but told them it was unlikely the perpetrators would be found. Upon returning home, Binish asked her husband, “What would you do if this had happened to someone else?” He replied that he would comfort them and then find who did it. “Then why not do that for yourself?” she answered. Dr. Usmani returned to the police and demonstrated how geo fencing software could help them track the patterns of criminals. The police were impressed and they are currently working with Go-Fig to explore ways to do just that.

“Go-Fig Solutions (Pvt.) Ltd. was born from the idea that the problems that we face as a society, however complex, are solvable.” This, combined with their passion for people and life, is apparent in everything they do. When asked what winning the World StartUp Cup would mean to the company, Binish gives her answer with continued confidence, “We can grow and truly change something. Not only for Pakistan. We are doing this work for the world. We want to save as many people in the world as possible.”

We greatly admire the work, passion and purpose of Go-Fig Solutions. We know you will be bringing good to the world for many years to come and wish you the best of luck toward the World StartUp Cup!

 

Creato Tec Finds Focus and Gains a Chance at World StartUp Cup

Creato Tec was a six month old venture when they entered the Alexandria StartUp Cup [Alexandria StartUp Cup] in Egypt. They had already achieved a level of success that included a solid team of six employees. “For the first three months, it was just me and my brother, Ayman [Hafez].” says Kareem Hafez, who left his job as a finance manager to commit to Creato Tec full time. Salma Sherif joined the team as a partner to help round out the marketing and sales support aspect of their business. “Our team succeeded because we complement one another.” observed Kareem who focuses on the finance, operations and sales, while Ayman develops the student course curriculum, keeping the company up to speed with the latest technology, and staying ahead of the competition with innovated approaches to what they offer.Creatotec

 Creato Tec began specializing in manufacturing of educational robots and teaching youth the field of mechatronics, science and business, but they were struggling with what direction to grow the company. “Before StartUp Cup, we were confused between working with educating kids and manufacturing robots.” Through the unique business model competition and process, “…we decided to delay manufacturing and focus on training for kids.” By determining their focal point, Creato Tec added two of their three team awards for the year with their Creato Kids [Creato Kids] teams, 1st Place Egypt Minesweepers and 3rd place in Mate ROV Regional, while participating in the StartUp Cup. “Being more focused gave us higher achievements for the kids.” says Kareem.

 With a focus on Creato Kids, the company was able to meet another challenge head on. They were facing the long process of having to educate their clients on their product, encountering resistance and costing time. With the help of local StartUp Cup mentors and judges, the team chose a pioneering approach to let select schools try their product for free. “The schools said, ‘Are you sure?’” laughed Kareem. But, Salma says the results were the breakthrough they needed, “They were amazed and convinced about our services.”  So much so, that their first client decided to pay after their first day of services. By taking this marketing leap, they developed their first database of 100 kids, built trust with the school, gained media opportunities and had success stories and marketing materials to take to other schools.

 Additional strategies that rocketed Creato Tec to the top during the competition were marketing and bootstrapping methods. Learning SMART marketing strategies they utilized media relationships in television and radio to tell their story and created strategic alliances with news channels, bookstores and nurseries. Their financial lessons resulted in providing 50% of their services at schools to minimize fixed cost, having technical engineers work on a part-time basis for the first 6 months and creating partnerships with indirect competitors to leverage scale.

 While competing, Creato Tec grew from 6 to 8 employees and is now nearing their eleventh employee hire. Their clients include three out of 10 large schools in Alexandria and their revenue increased by $15,000 EGP in the months during the StartUp Cup. Now, “our operations sped up, we built a new customers base, our events now have a fast direct impact on customers and our business approach is more focused and organized.”

 The Creato Tec team hopes to be taking their keys to success in winning in Alexandria all the way to The World StartUp Cup in Yerevan, Armenia on March 5th and 6th.  Their ability to seize opportunity, never give up, work as a team, and think out of the box culminated into rapid growth during the competition. When asked about the benefits of winning the StartUp Cup, Kareem states, “We have reformed the way we work and now have a more clear way forward.”

 And how does the team feel about entering to compete in the  World StartUp Cup?   “With our team spirit, strong idea, big achievements in 1 year and massive growth, our dream [of winning] will come true.”

We believe that team spirit will take Creato Tec far in everything they do. Good luck! Follow them on twitter @creatokids.