From Adventure to Venture: A new Approach to Economic Stimulation
The first Startup Weekend Seoul was hosted in the NHN learning center in Bundang on the 28th to the 30th May 2010. The event was sponsored by government organizations and app center this time. NHN also gave sponsorship in the form of the venue. One of the mentors of the event stated that, 'the mechanics of the event is that is a three day event to stimulate the economy.'
The event, while carefully hidden in subterfuge of commerce, is for the moment, a mostly government investment for which it is estimated that it will get return. The term 'virtuous investment cycle' is one bandied around a lot in ICT and Green Tech. It is a method where the Korean government first creates a demand for which industry supplies. Reading the lay of the event in amongst the chaos of daily life and superflous 'other' ICT events, it is possible to see that this event has been timed carefully to coincide with smartphone and iPad introductions to the marketplace. In fact, while it wasn't confirmed at the time of writing, it might be read that by initiating a waiting list for iPads within the country that ICT leaders were able to measure potential demand and act accordingly. In the short window given, will it work? History tells us that activities in the frame of a virtuous investment cycle work in Korea and analysts repeat this too. The short window will mean little if measured against the past. For example, the Internet was invented before Korea began the overarching cycle and Korea has become an ICT powerhouse since then.
When considering events, the Startup Weekend Seoul is one of the fairer ones. An event more than a competition where the lower payout tends to act to stimulate and encourage but keeps it clean and an event that is not simply a cheap attempt to conduct research and development without paying for it as the reponsibility to participants ends when the weekend ends. The team members at the event pay a fee to be there and they are assumed to be more committed as a consequence. Though the event was also said to be a lot much more than only economic stimulus. The event gives people who want to be a part of a team the opportunity to join and, 'test ideas with no risk.' One of the main goals of the event is to develop networks and it was said that many people were there, 'talent scouting.'
On the Friday night, teams began selecting ideas. The international event had attracted all who were interested in networking testing ideas, developing skills and making new types of colleagues, including several foreigners. The event was opened by Prof. KJ Byeon of Ajou University and Prof. Jin Hyung Kim of KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) who represent the App Center Headquarters. The opening also featured a presentation by Enswers, a start up for video search, and an intellectual property lawyer.
Forty eight teams made pitches to all of the participants. Of the great number of ideas put forward by the many talented people in the room, eleven were selected to work on over the weekend.
Due to a combination of indecision and decision, two of the eleven teams pulled out of the weekend event. As a first event in Korea, establishing, properly, the philosophy behind the event was important as there were many present whom were scouting the event for an attempt for the next year. Participants worked on their prototypes and presentations which were like a mini business and marketing plan in many cases.
On day three, teams continued making their presentations and prototypes. In the afternoon, geeks on a plane, comprising of venture, market and application segment specialists, arrived. Among the people gathered were Capstone Partners Korea, Google Korea, Userstorylab, Flyfan, Sundaytoz and many more. Of those gathered, about ten established Korean IT (information technology) companies had the opportunity to present their businesses to the international guests. The companies presented, not for the purposes of capital but to allow those present to view in person some of the major developments in the application sector of IT. In the evening, the startup weekend participants were finally ready to present their concepts and prototypes. Cu there, a utility that facilitates people connections; A shopping venture, Team fun goose; Active story teller, an ibook; sweet meal, a donation mechanism for underprivileged; Micasa, a game; Quicket, secondhand goods sales with optimized search; Skill Tree, a Social Networking Site (SNS) to help to network to develop skills; Troasis, a road SNS (social network service) and Voccacio a mobile phone education application, all presented before a crowd of professionals, venture capitalists
At the event, nine of the eleven starting teams got the opportunity to try a startup and develop an idea to prototype. Troasis, won two million Korean Won in encouragement at the Seoul Startup Weekend. A game application project named Micasa and Quicket, a project involving sales and search optimization also took home encouragement in the form of one million and five hundred thousand won, respectively. The event was tremendously successful at enabling networking and attracting some serious Korean talent, old and new. Startup Weekend spokespeople and organizers, such as Lee Dong-yol and Seok Won-yang, were pleased with the event and the standard of entrants as well as the proceedings. The event is planned to take place again later this year.