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Startup Weekend is coming to Tirana!

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Entrepreneurship in Albania has experienced an impressive growth in recent years and still has a lot of potential. In order to fully tap this potential, the government has been trying to promote entrepreneurship among the Albanian youth. Recent studies of the European Union and the International Labor Organization have come to conclusions that small and medium enterprises in all sectors of the economy often lack the level of technical understanding, internal capabilities and support network necessary to adopt, manage and create solutions and innovations, which are needed to increase sales and to compete in regional and global markets. Protik ICT resource Center’s goals are: to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, to provide ICT entrepreneurs with access to modern technology and know-how, and to serve as an information and networking hub. Protik aims to drive youth entrepreneurship in Albania and is proud to host the Startup Weekend event in Tirana and to support this global movement on a local level. The event will serve as a guide to the Albanian startup ecosystem, and work towards building an entrepreneurial culture through information sharing and educational events.

Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend Tirana is a part of “Startup Weekend “the global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals to share ideas, form teams, and launch startups. Next month Tirana hosts its second Startup Weekend, on 7-9 June, 2013 at Protik ICT Resource Center. Startup Weekend is an event that brings together local entrepreneurs, programmers, developers, marketers, designers and startup enthusiasts in a 54 hour event of taking innovative business ideas from concept to launch.

The Startup Weekend Tirana event aims to create and strengthen an entrepreneur’s community, and build a platform for communication. Entrepreneurs, be those who already have started their business, or aspiring entrepreneurs who just have ideas, will find a place to test their (crazy) ideas, talk to peers and find potential partners who complement their skills and are ready to work. The event will bring in a vibe of ‘can do’ attitude which is lacking in the ICT community in Albania.

On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical backgrounds- the other half has business backgrounds. The event will look to not only bring together technology entrepreneurs, but also individuals from sectors such as education, business and finance among others.

The attendees come with vastly different perspectives, experiences, and skill sets and expect to learn a new skill, a new programming or business language and more so, a new way of thinking. In addition, there will be speakers who will go over the challenges and successes they have encountered in their journeys. Participants can join up with innovators, visionaries, and creative to work on something amazing while gaining valuable feedback from experienced entrepreneurs. Attendees can also have the advantage of getting in touch with local and international mentors. Startup Weekends of the past have induced explosive brainstorming sessions, inspiring conversations, and long-lasting connections. Over 45 000 individuals have already participated in Startup Weekend events around the world, all with a mission: change the world.

What exactly happens during the weekend?

The startup weekend event is a weekend long, hands-on experience where entrepreneurs can find out if their startup ideas are viable. The event offers a risk-free environment where everyone is expected to roll up their sleeves and dive into the exhilarating world of startups. Whether you have a business idea or a skill that is necessary in building a successful startup, this event is one that aspiring entrepreneurs should not miss.

On Friday evening, the 7th of June, concept pitching and team building will take place. Attendees are encouraged to bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. By the end of the day, teams will be formed around concepts and various skills that are brought to the table leaving the remainder of the weekend to mind mapping, strategizing and building a real business. There will be knowledgeable and successful local and international mentors in attendance to inspire and help the teams throughout the weekend. By Sunday evening, teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts–competing for real prizes that help speed them to launch.

Organizing team and Sponsors

The organizing team consists of Protik ICT Resource Center executive staff, Startup Weekend Norway and AITA, which are project partners of the event. The team all together has been continuously working in recent weeks to ensure that this event provides not only inspiration, but also the resources required to succeed. The Protik ICT Resource Center will also host Startup Weekend Tirana in its premises, and provide infrastructure support and technical staff. Moreover, a preparatory work has been done to identify innovative ideas. Few meetings were held in order to identify potential participants and guidelines have been provided along the way for interested entrepreneurs.

The main supporter of the Startup Weekend Tirana event is the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is also a Premier Sponsor. The support that this institution is providing in Albania for the development of the ICT sector is showing great results.

Moreover Tirana Startup Weekend is sponsored and supported by well-known Albanian companies such as ICTS Media, Raiffeisen Bank, Microsoft Albania, BTC Albania, DM Consulting Service, Kaspersky Lab and Facilization Sh.pk, Easypay Albania, Shqiperia.Com which, besides their support will also provide prizes for the winning teams and be involved in mentoring attendees. PC World English will be the media partner of the event. The Startup Weekend offers to sponsorship partners a great opportunity to foster relationships, find prospects for investment in startups, and identify talents and innovative business ideas.

Reception
The results achieved from the process of finding sponsors, special prices and finding support from many personalities in the field of information technology who are enthusiastic to become mentors during the event, demonstrate that startup weekend continues to be well acclaimed by the Albanian public.
Topics such as entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital, especially in the field of information technology and communication, are topics that should not only be part of the daily vocabulary of businessmen, politicians, experts and young people in the sector, but should be the push towards results that will turn the country into a center of ideas and talent development.

The event will be held at Protik ICT Resource Center in Tirana on 7-9 June 2013. Up to 100 participants are expected to attend and registration is now open. Check out confirmed Speakers, Coaches and Jury members. More names will be announced in the up-coming weeks.
For more information and for registration, please visit the website: http//tirana.startupweekend.org
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Twitter: @SWTirana

Reference:
Albania Country Profile Report (2012): http://www.un.org.al/subindex.php?faqe=details&;id=6&mnu=2
SBA Fact Sheet Albania (2012): http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/facts-figures-analysis/performance-review/files/countries-sheets/2012/albania_en.pdf