GSY: Beanbag battles and working with strangers

  • Youth participants going through the growing pains of being a startup with their project and teammates 
  • With international teams, overcoming differences in culture, approach to ideas and working styles a key lesson
GSY: Beanbag battles and working with strangers

THE second day of the Global Startup Youth (GSY) 2013 event marked the start of a frenzy of activity, with teams hunkering down to turn ideas into reality.
The biggest challenge of the day seemed to revolve around hanging on to one of the colourful beanbags strewn across the event’s main hall and hallway at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Many a youth was spotted dragging a precious bag from one spot to another lest they lose it.
There are about 50 teams working away on ideas to help answer problems under the four main themes for GSY which were chosen from the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals: Education, the Environment, Female Empowerment and Health.
Teams were pre-determined with each group comprising hackers, hustlers and domain experts, paired with a mentor to oversee their progress.
Talks by speakers on different aspects of creating a product and startup were held throughout the day, to offer teams guidance and food for thought when it came to solidifying their own projects. Topics ranged from user experience design, creativity and innovation, to scaling mobile applications.
Present at the event was Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) chief executive officer Badlisham Ghazali, who said he found the energy “fantastic.”
“I walked into the main hall when they were all shouting and I wasn’t sure what they were shouting about, but you could see that the youth were energised about doing something good and making a change in the world,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA).
Badlisham said that he thought the event a great opportunity for Malaysian youth to be exposed to that kind of energy.
When asked what he hoped youth would take away from GSY as a key message, he said that one of the criticisms of local youth was that while they don’t lack ideas or personal energy, they don’t express it as well, not in terms of shouting but sharing as well.
He said that Malaysian youth are not as used to the global exposure as they should be because the world is becoming smaller and more virtual.
“It’s one thing to read about it, but when you experience it, it’s a different thing altogether and I want our guys to think ‘Hey they’re just like me, but think larger, with more energy for possibilities and there’s no reason for why I can’t do it as well'," he added.
With the pitch presentations set to take place Thursday (Oct 10) afternoon, the teams had a very tight timeline to work with to come up with their solutions.
When asked for his take on the progress of the teams during the second day of GSY, mentor Amarit Charoenphan said that it’s been good, with a mixed bag of entrepreneurs.
In addition to being involved with StartupWeekend, Charoenphan is also cofounder of Hubba, a co-working space in Bangkok, Thailand.
He said that the teams were all in a different state of readiness. Some were already programming, ahead of the game and very organised; while others were trying to figure out how to work together and still figuring out their ideas.
“They are going through the growing pains of being a startup, especially in that initial stage where everybody has their own ideas and they’re still searching for what they want to do,” he said.
Because the teams were pre-selected, all were working in diverse groups with people from different countries, ideas and approaches.
“Some will want to lead, some will want to follow while others may have different ideas. That’s the beauty of startups -- everybody is learning; sometimes it’s going work out really fast and for others it’s going to work out really slow, the hard way,” Charoenphan added.
Ganesh Muren, a 22-year-old Malaysian working alongside 10 others for the GSY challenge, said the experience so far has been “crazy and enlightening.”
“I’ve always worked with just Malaysians and this experience has been really enlightening -- working across boundaries with people from different worlds and cultures. You have to communicate through those barriers and overcome them,” he said.
“Not to mention, you never just start a startup with 11 people because that’s just crazy! You’re getting thrown into the most difficult situation and you have to learn really quickly how to work with new people,” he added.
When asked what his team’s project was about, Ganesh shared that they were working on something to motivate and compel young people to chip in and help save endangered species, but declined to share more details.
At time of interview, the teams had approximately 20 hours left, including the night, before pitch time.
“Tonight is going to be a good night, that’s all I’m going to say!” quipped Ganesh when asked whether the team will be burning the midnight oil.

Echoing that same sentiment, mentor Charoenphan noted: “It’s exciting, and let’s see if they can take this very far or if they’ll crash and burn tonight.”
Related Stories:
‘We’re here to solve the world’s biggest problems’
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GES 2013 set to be largest and most global in series
The latest chapter in the ‘Dash’ startup story
Is a golden opportunity being wasted at GES? 

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