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AUS students and alumni claim top spots at the first Sharjah Startup Weekend
Current and former students of American University of Sharjah (AUS) claimed the top three spots at the first-ever Sharjah Startup Weekend held recently at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Three other AUS teams received honorable mentions.
As part of a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities, Sharjah Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where participants pitch technology startup ideas and form teams to compete for awards and cash prizes. Throughout the event, successful business leaders from the community mentor participants.
For this inaugural event, 65 teams registered to pitch their entrepreneurship ideas vying for the top prize: a business license for the Chamber of Commerce. Of the 65 teams registered, 25 teams were AUS-affiliated teams. After the first round, 21 teams, 10 of them from AUS, were shortlisted to proceed to the next round. The teams worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to develop their ideas and at the end, three AUS teams won all the top spots as well as three honorable mentions.
The winning team, which is made up of Abdullah Shamim, a current accounting student, and alumni Rashid Abdul Ghafoor and Mian Mohammad Ismail, developed the idea of the business Dr. Oil. Themed "Remote Oil Change Right at Your Doorsteps," Dr. Oil will provide oil changes at remote locations. "It doesn't matter if you are at home, the office or out shopping with your family, just give us a call and our certified technicians will be right there and then," the team asserted.
"Sharjah Startup Weekend was an amazing experience for me. It was a great learning and social event. Although I have been running my own business for two years and know a thing or two about entrepreneurship, this event was a great confidence booster," said Ghafoor.
"This means a lot to me. I have tried Startup Weekend twice before in Dubai and winning this one was the most rewarding thing so far. Even if there were no rewards, it would still feel great," said Shamim. "We got two investors who wanted to invest in our idea and two more after we won, but we want to try it ourselves."
"I thank Allah for the great achievement. It was a great moment of joy, an excellent way to boost the self-esteem, and proof that the skills and abilities I acquired from AUS are strong and effective," said Ismail.
The second place went to a team that included AUS alumni Ahmed Al Farkh and Yasir El Nimr, whose idea was Inliten, an online destination for students seeking the right major and university.
Third place went to the team comprising AUS alumni Ahmad Abu Gosh, Ghadeer Ghafri, Mudassir Idris and Hadeel Nassar. The team's idea was Kulshi, an online grocery store portal that allows users to search for local grocery stores in their area and order groceries online.
Held under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qassimi, the Sharjah Startup Weekend was organized by Sharjah Tatweer Forum, a non-profit independent entity that aims to contribute to the progress and the sustainable development of the Emirate of Sharjah through enabling young leaders, supporting the implementation of viable projects and the productive interaction with society to achieve a better future based on the cultural heritage of Sharjah. In collaboration with the AUS Students Leadership Program, AUS students, including main organizers Muhanned El Tinai and Ahmed El Tinai, took part in the event's organization.
"This weekend was a changing point in my life. I gained experience from this challenge and with my team, and I was able to fulfill my dream in starting my own Sweets Shop for Diabetics. I would advise every entrepreneur to participate in StartUp Weekend, and even if you don't win the first three awards, you will win by stepping up with your business idea," said Maram Dalab, a public relations major who got an honorable mention and an investor for her business idea.
Judges for the event came from varying backgrounds, including Dr. Fadi Aloul, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at AUS. Ali Khawaja, an instructor at the AUS School of Business and Management, also participated at the event as a mentor.
"Sharjah Startup Weekend brought together brilliant minds, our students shined while presenting their creative ideas to the panel of judges and mentors. With only 60 seconds to present their ideas, students learned the importance of effective communication and convincing skills. This is the third Startup Weekend that SLP students take part in, and we will continue to encourage students to participate in such events for the overall learning experience gained from presenting and networking, to meeting professional entrepreneurs and most importantly building confidence and believing in their ideas," said Dr. Moza Al Shehhi, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
"Congratulations to all our students and alumni for their well-deserved achievements. It's always impressive, and it makes AUS proud to see our current and former students excel. This is yet another example of a great performance by our students," said Dr. Aloul. "AUS focuses on building the leadership, entrepreneurship, problem-solving and presentation skills of students to make them successful in the real life. This was evident in the competition, as almost half the entrepreneurship pitches, in addition to all winners, were from AUS."