We received a record number of applications for people who wanted to participate in Startup Weekend Gaza this year: 650! After a lengthy selection process, we chose 150… the most we could fit into the venue and accommodate for a professional, fruitful event.
As soon as we made the announcement of who was accepted and who was waitlisted, 30 people showed up to the Gaza Sky Geeks office in tears. “I want to participate!” they cried. “Why wasn’t I selected?” We did everything we could and ended up being able to accommodate nearly everyone who was committed and passionate.
We believe there were three primary reasons for the large number of applications this year:
- Our excellent outreach team. Said Abdalrahim led a group of motivated ambassadors who visited universities in Gaza and led an extensive social media campaign. We reached more people than ever before!
- International mentors. We announced we’d bring nearly 10 international mentors to the event. Gazan potential entrepreneurs are hungry to meet with them and get advice since they barely ever get to interact with startup geeks from elsewhere. During the past 8 months, we only brought 4 startup geeks from elsewhere: Mohannad Hijawi, Taylor Valore, Ambar Renova, and Gisel Kordestani. We are tripling that number this week at Startup Weekend!
- Recent success stories. Gaza startups received outside investment (from Oasis500 and PALinnO) for the first time just last December. If Alaa Saqer, Mariam Abulteiwi, and Mohammed Awad were able to receive investment, so can you! Visit www.gazaskygeeks.com for more info.
Most of all, the people who make this event are the participants themselves. We’re so glad to have you at SWGaza4… all 150 of you!
– by Iliana Montauk for the Startup Weekend Organizing Commitee