Complex Made Simple

TURN8 Hackathon in Dubai unites entrepreneurial hopefuls

More than 80 people attended a two-day ‘Hackathon’ sponsored by TURN8 Seed Accelerator and held on 9-10 January at The Cribb in Dubai. Many participants came to share their idea for a technology-based startup, and compete for the opportunity to be chosen for the fourth round of the TURN8 accelerator program beginning in February.

At the start of the weekend, 32 people pitched their ideas to the crowd and the judges’ panel. After this, participants formed teams to work on some of the ideas and spent the rest of the weekend honing the ideas and business plans for a final presentation.

Of the 22 final pitches, two were chosen as the top ideas. First place went to Kid Ching, a gamified platform that lets kids make online purchases with approval of payment by parents. ejarcar, an aggregated website for car rentals, took second place.

Both of the top two ideas were pre-selected for the TURN8 program, which provides $30,000 in seed funding along with training and mentoring to its startups. In addition, both teams received a LeapMotion controller, provided by sponsoring partner pixelbug. The first place team received $300 to spend on as part of the Upstarts program, while the second place team received two complimentary tickets to STEP conference.

Rand Hidayah, co-founder of first place winner Kid Ching, said: “It was gratifying to see our hard work and brainstorming pay off, and the validation of our idea as a commercial endeavor was very good news. We’re excited to become a part of the TURN8 accelerator program.”

While developing their ideas during the hackathon, participants were able to attend several workshops provided by regional experts, including sessions on design thinking, business model design, growth hacking and AngularJS (a web application framework).

In addition to the hackathon, Dubai-based TURN8 has held a number of idea pitching events as part of the “Scouting” phase of Round 4. Countries visited include Spain, Georgia, Serbia, India, Russia and Lebanon. TURN8 is seeking innovative technology solutions and business models that can be developed in its120-day seed accelerator in Dubai.