For the first time in three years, Singapore hosted the global 54-hour entrepreneurial challenge Startup Weekend last Friday through Sunday.
The event, which was attended by 142 people, started with a 60-second pitches before teams were formed to begin work on the most interesting ideas. After working through the weekend, with mentors dropping in and out to help teams, the Startup Weekend concluded with a Demo-Day-styled pitching session.
The winner of Startup Weekend Singapore was CoShare — a Carousell-like company with a little twist. Instead of buying products P2P, CoShare allows users to rent equipment.
“The idea formed when I needed to go overseas. I needed a GoPro, but it is expensive to buy. I thought this [idea] could be used for photography gear,” CoShare team member Janson Seah, a 22-year-old Economics major at National University of Singapore told e27.
Over the weekend, the idea expanded to bring in a more general audience, targetting products that may be valuable for a week or month but are expensive and not worth the permanent purchase — like a GoPro.
The main concern was security. How could CoShare prevent people from simply walking off with the equipment? Seah said the work-around was making sure everyone had their image on their profile page, as well as accurate information and geo-tagging.
For the victory, CoShare received a three-month free stay at Aviva’s Digital Garage, a co-working space aimed at fintech and insurance startups opening this week. The team will also get a Box business account, S$20,000 (US$14,100) worth of free transactions with Stripe and two tickets to the Tokyo Pioneers event in March.
“[The choice] was a bit obvious for us…I think the way [CoShare] expressed that they have models, they had the technology to build the app and they made us laugh. There was some excitement in the room for [the product],” said Lazada Singapore Co-founder and COO Arthur Brenjon Brejon de Lavergnée, who was on the judging panel for the event.
Brejon de Lavernée hit the nail on the head. During the pitch, Seah was a boisterous jokester, but did a good job of getting the point across.
“A pitch is supposed to be fun. If you don’t believe in the product then there won’t be energy. People can tell if you don’t believe,” he said.
The team at second place was Do-Part-Time, a portal to help companies find ad-hoc labor in the event industry. Third place was a team called Investeur, who built a personal finance planning app targeted at young professionals or families that are neither wealthy nor financially literate.
The judges were Brejon de Lavergnée, Cameron Priest (CEO of TradeGecko), Anson Zeal (CEO of CoinPip), Edmas Neo (Assistant Director, Partnerships at Infocomm Investments) and Monique Shivanandan (CIO at Aviva).
The inspiration for CoShare — Carousell — began as a Startup Weekend project called SnapSell when it participated in 2012. So, the question is, will CoShare stay together and try to follow the P2P marketplace’s path towards success?
“It depends on the team. We had good chemistry. I would say it is open-ended [at this point],” said Seah.
In August, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the Startup Weekend ASEAN event held in Kuala Lumpur.