It's a dog-eat-dog weekend for dotcom aspirants

30th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

iWeekend Valencia sees 40 participants gather together for the weekend to propose their products, pick one and start up the company for business.

30 May 2008

VALENCIA - The defender of the "game portal with prizes" has spent two minutes fielding a volley of questions, when somebody in the room asks: "Where will the money come from?"

"On top of advertising, there will be an events zone you can access by SMS [message]," he answers.

Then other queries start flying: "There are already portals doing this. It would need massive traffic to make any money."

"I won't pay 50 cents to play if I can go somewhere else for free," someone responds.

iWeekend Valencia has just begun. You have to have a good idea, talk fast to sell it and improvise. You also have to be a good loser.

The 40 participants, who include programmers, designers, experts in marketing, advertising and management, graduates, students and hackers, have 55 hours over the weekend to propose their products, choose one, make it into an internet application, and start up the company for business.

The event, which ran earlier this month, is a marathon for everyone involved, especially those who come from the Bancaja Foundation just to learn teamwork, and those who brought an idea that fell by the wayside in the first three hours of selection.

The founder of iWeekend in Spain is Luv Sayal, an English graduate from Mumbai, India, who settled in Barcelona to create startup technology.

"In three days it's impossible to set up a company," he says. "But you can get a first version. The important thing is the networking - the ideas and teamwork that appear when you get together with people from different backgrounds."

Much depends on the participants. The challenge is to create a dotcom that will survive in the outside world. Selection, though seasoned with humour, is pitiless. The winner is a hairdresser-reservations application.

Sayal, who cast the deciding vote to break a tie, asked the three finalists a crucial question: "What do you do, and how much time can you devote to the company?" Sayal says he is following in the footsteps of the American firm, which was his inspiration for iWeekend.

On Saturday morning the team splits up into three groups: programmers, designers, executives. The last two work out what the website will look like, while the last works out the practical aspects of putting the new company on the internet.

[El Pais / Ignacio Zafra / Expatica]

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