"[removed][removed]" Mideast creatives

Inspiring start-ups competed in Disrupt!/Media!/

It is hard to believe, but after three amazing days with a special group of young entrepreneurs in Tunisia, Disrupt!/Media!/ has come to a close. With it, three prizewinners for 2014 were selected!

Coming in first place was a team of three very talented young people: Kenza Zouari, Walid Hamrouni, and Leïla Chaouachi with their idea: GuerillART. The team actually began the competition as two separate teams. Kenza and Walid had plans to develop their idea of a blog on Tunisian film and television personalities, while Leila had the idea for a network of arts and cultural centers across the country. The two combined their ideas, and took home the grand prize: €2,500, a 3-month Cogite membership, and a place in the THNK program when it comes to Tunis in November. In second place was Olfa Feki and her project: Oeil de Fatma, a transmedia storytelling project on Tunisian street food. And in third place was Othman Selmi and his idea for a satirical news site in Tunisia called “Klafes”.

The Event’s Kick-Off

Disrupt!/Media!/ kicked off Friday night 17 October at Cogite, with participants, mentors, and the Disrupt team getting together for the first time. The ideathon started off with a game with three sticky notes; the participants were tasked with writing the first words that came to mind when presented with the word “entrepreneur” and placing it on Cogite’s wall. Next, everyone went back up and picked a sticky note someone else had written. Lastly, each person then wrote three more words based on their new word, before assembling the sticky notes on a different wall.

Reviewing all of the words, it was interesting to see which words were the most common, namely vision, creativity, and risk and challenge. In all, we had a perfect summary of the entrepreneurial experience! After debriefing the group of the goals and criteria for the weekend the mentors had the opportunity to introduce themselves, their work, and their advice.

Lastly, it was time for the participants themselves to make their introductions, and briefly present their ideas to their fellow-participants/competitors. With great energy all around, the night ended and preparations for the next day started.

Diving into the Business Model

The second day started off with a keynote speech from Amine Chouaieb, the founder and CEO of Chifco, and one of Tunisia’s most successful young entrepreneurs. After sharing some inspiring and humorous experiences of his early days as an entrepreneur, Amine responded to questions and gave advice.

To get the creative juices flowing, the participants then worked on a series of puzzles, testing their powers of perception and their problem solving skills. Participants came away with a better understanding of how by changing our perception, it is possible to find new, innovative solutions.

Next, the group explored what it means to be an entrepreneur, starting with a game where the group contributed dozens of random words, and then broke off in to groups that selected 5 words each. The teams then had 3 minutes to come up with an idea for a business that would involve all five words. This 3-minute time limit was a recurring theme throughout the day, to reinforce the 3 minute time limit the participants will face Sunday for their final pitches.

After lunch, it was time to dive in to the business model canvas. Here, mentor Khalil Tarhouni took the lead explaining the concept and breaking down the different parts of the canvas. Then it was time for the participants to try it themselves, with the mentors on hand to guide to work with them. Over the course of the afternoon, mentors circulated around to get to know the participants, their ideas, and their prospective business models. After just a few hours, the participants have already come a long way in making their ideas competitive.

Pitch Day!

On the final day, the teams worked on their presentation skills with the trainer, given 3-minute time slots to have their best pitch. Throughout the day, the teams also had time to work with the mentors on polishing their Business Model Canvas, and do some last minute research on key facts and figures.

At 3:30 sharp, Cogite was transformed for the final pitches. The judges for the day were Leila Charfi, country director of Yunus Social Business, Mehdi Baccouche of the IMPACT Incubator, and Saber Sassi of Hiperdist Alliances. Over the course of the next two hours, each team had exactly 3 minutes to present, and 3 minutes of follow-up questioning from the judges.

Teams gave their pitches in French, Arabic, English, (and sometimes all three!). When everyone had finished, we moved on to Latina Café for a night of music, food, and dancing. After a live musical performance from singer Sarah Larbi, the winners were announced, and the judges took time to congratulate everyone.

“I was truly thrilled to spend this Sunday with you and your inspiring projects,” said judge Mehdi Baccouche. “Bravo to you, and to the team of mentors who worked with you this weekend.”

Regardless of who took home a prize, the Disrupt team hopes that the skills learned over the weekend and the connections made will have a positive impact on the future of these young entrepreneurs.

See the pictures here of the entire ideathon here.