Debrief: FINDER Start-Up Weekend

The workshop for idea-stage entrepreneurs happened this weekend with 5 start-ups and 7 panelists in attendance. The start-ups were:

  • Sajilopay Payment Services: a payment service provider servicing rural Nepalese communities and facilitating, among other things, the sending of remittances from diasporic communities;
  • Kobopay: a digital bank providing financial services and infrastructure to rural communities in Nigeria and the intention to expand services to broader sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Hato: a start-up in development that improves the house-hunting experience for first-time movers in geographies with advanced public infrastructure;
  • PureValidation: a market data validation service enabled by AI and blockchain technology, bringing modern technologies to the out-of-date data management space within the financial services industry; and
  • Data Origins: a big- and alternative-data-powered platform that provides restauranteurs with near- and mid-term insights based on environmental factors to save on administration costs.
Screenshot taken during the first day’s public session. Founders were asked to pitch their business ideas to the full forum plus non-participating spectators, after which they fielded clarifying questions in advance of the second day’s breakout sessions.

The workshop’s first day was primarily a pitching session, where founders relayed the general functions, marketable intents, and progress of their ideas. During the second day, each founder had her or his own breakout room, through which each panelist rotated in 20-minute increments.

Due to fluctuations and unpredictability regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this event was held virtually. Despite that, attendees were enthusiastic about the opportunity and energetic in sharing ideas as well as advice, challenges, and networking information. According to one attendee:

There is a great demand for events like this, especially for idea-stage startups. Idea-stage startups desperately need an outside and unbiased view of their business ideas to help them gain the confidence of their business

Leona Chen, Founder, PureValidation

Participants discussed this market gap – coaching events catering specifically to idea- and early-stage start-ups – during one of the summary and reflection sessions. For such start-ups, the decisions their founders make this early can be intensely consequential for the futures of their ventures. As a particular example of the challenges bundled in this, founders need to set their scope when starting out to something that is both promising yet realistic, and these two qualities can conflict – especially when appeasing stakeholders such as investors.

However, the nature of the business itself can shift dramatically during this embryonic stage, as constraints and goals are fluid in this stage. While this might frustrate some founders for feeling like the ground beneath them is constantly shifting, it also allows them to quickly and (relatively) easily shift direction in the wake of new information.

From the perspective of an idea-stage entrepreneur, I got valuable feedback on.. how the product I brought to the workshop could bring more value to customers (improvements)… [The workshop also] helped me to realize that there could be more customers than the ones I was thinking of. This increases our market size.

Franco Sanchez Torres, Founder, Hato

Alongside increasing public awareness of the business formation process (facilitated by the inclusion of two non-participating spectators for Friday’s session), the above quote brings forth the type of impact the FINDER Start-Up Weekend was intended to have for the entrepreneurs. In early 2022, the project researchers will reach out to attendees to poll the progress they’ve made as a direct result of the weekend. We’ll write an update around the aggregated results of this inquiry shortly thereafter – stay tuned.

– S. James Ellis, ESR

Neither FINDER, its funding agency, nor their affiliates endorse, sponsor, nor take any responsibility for any present or future actions taken by entities referenced herein nor their agents.

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