Dave Mawhinney and the Quick Startup winning team from CMUQ.
Twenty students from universities across Doha have competed in Quick Startup 2014, a business training programme launched this year by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMUQ).
The programme coaches budding entrepreneurs as they develop a concept into a business plan and present an investor pitch to a panel of industry experts in just 72 hours.
Memzy, an application-based startup comprising Carnegie Mellon students, took home the first prize. It was followed by Tarweej, a startup aimed at helping high-school students choose a university and fill out application forms. Qatar Arabian Theme Park, a venture to set up the region’s first theme park, came third.
The winning team, Memzy, developed a business plan for a social platform mobile application and was keen to have seasoned professionals analyse its venture before moving forward.
“We signed up for Quick Startup because we wanted to understand the process of how you start a venture. More importantly, having a panel of judges with industry experience was the perfect opportunity for us to gather feedback,” said winning team member Afrah Hassan, an information systems senior at Carnegie Mellon.
The six participating teams that competed over the weekend included students from CMUQ, Qatar University (QU), College of the North Atlantic – Qatar (CNA-Q), Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar and the Gulf English School.
The Carnegie Mellon Qatar programme contributes to the country’s increasing focus on developing a culture of entrepreneurship. Thomas Emerson, distinguished career professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, said: “Many students aspire to become entrepreneurs once they graduate and Carnegie Mellon Qatar is dedicated to providing them with the necessary support and advice. Along with our university entrepreneurship department, there are also organisations around the country such as Silatech, Bedaya Centre and Enterprise Qatar available to provide support,” he added.
Industry experts participated on the judging panel and as mentors, imparting their knowledge to the students. Participants were classified based on their potential profits, feasibility and market research.
Dave Mawhinney, co-director of the Carnegie Mellon University Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and executive director of the Donald H Jones Centre for Entrepreneurship, said: “Through this programme, we provide an immersive experience for budding entrepreneurs to dip into the realm of entrepreneurship, meet potential customers, validate and debate ideas with teammates, culminating in a cohesive presentation of their venture.”
Mawhinney is one of three experienced industry experts visiting from the Pittsburgh campus alongside Milton Cofield, executive director of Undergraduate Business Administration at Carnegie Mellon University, and Peter Stern, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate who co-founded Datek Online, the fourth largest online brokerage firm. Stern is also a founding member of the CMU Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund, providing seed capital to help recent CMU alumni start their companies.
The judging panel comprised Cofield; Saleh al-Khulaifi, head of business development at Qatar Development Bank; Hala al-Misnad, junior associate from Enterprise Qatar; Peter J Moore, entrepreneurial mentor at CNA-Q; Mohamed Fathy Miligy, relationship manager at Qatar National Bank; and Juha Peralampi, manager at the Business Incubator Centre for Entrepreneurship and lecturer for Entrepreneurship and International Business Marketing and Management Department at QU.