Impressive Demos at Beirut Startup Weekend’s Environment Edition

Mohamad Salhab, May 17 2016

For its sixth anniversary, the Beirut Startup Weekend organized a special “environment edition” at the  ESA Business School campus.  

Beirut Startup Weekend is an initiative by Techstars, and was organized by local community leaders Layal Jebran and Tala Azzam along with a dedicated team of volunteers. The event was funded by the European Union and with the support of the Lebanese entrepreneurship ecosystem.

On the first day of the event, 29 impromptu teams of developers, programmers, designers, and entrepreneurs competed to pitch creative ideas for startups. 7 selected finalists then had 48 hours to present their idea to a panel of judges, along with a working prototype and a realistic business plan to support it.

After 2 sleepless days and industrial quantities of coffee, the exercise produced impressive ideas - some of which have a realistic chance of becoming operational startups.

Check out the winning ideas and other top ideas:

1st Prize: Promoting the Sorting of Recyclable Waste

The team behind the Limm app had earned the most votes on the first day of the event and went on to win the first prize of $3,000. The money will be used to help them develop their idea, together with a 3-month incubation period at Berytech, and access to the Startup Bootcamp from AltCity.

The word “Limm” (لِمّ) means to pick up in Arabic. The platform would be offered free of charge and would aim to connect Lebanese households to municipal workers in order to facilitate the collection of sorted, recyclable waste. Limm would also reward households and individuals based on the quality and quantity of their output, through programs funded by private companies’ CSR programs.

In the next stage, Limm will allow individuals to integrate the platform based on an “Uber concept” said Nicolas Farah, one of the entrepreneurs behind this idea. This would allow truck owners to register as freelance collectors and earn additional income.

2nd Prize: Food Engagement

The CoBite app won $2,500, an incubator package from the Smart ESA Incubator, and access to phase 1 of AltCity’s Startup Bootcamp.

Through the app’s verified social network, users can sell their unconsumed food (cooked and/or uncooked) at reduced prices, thus reducing food waste.

The project will first target users between 16 and 26 years living in Beirut (estimated at around 500,000) who might not have the time or the knowhow to cook. These users could purchase home-cooked food using their card or with cash on delivery. The project then hopes to tackle food security for people in need, working with NGOs and private-sector sponsors.

3rd Prize AND Design Award: Recycling with a Bang

The guys behind Strash surprised everyone with their concept of a glass bottle crusher for pubs. Basically, after consumers finish their drink, they can entertain themselves and their friends with bottle crushing bouts using the Strash contraption. The “ex-bottles” would take up less space than intact bottles before being sent to recyclers.

Besides being fun, the guys figured collecting glass in pieces would also reduce work for recyclers, and encourage them to enter this space. It is worth noting that there have been no colored glass recycling facilities in Lebanon since 2006, and that colored bottles usually end up in landfills. To give an idea of the size of this problem, the national brewery Almaza produces 24,000 bottles of beer per hour - that’s 3 million bottles a month, from one factory only.

The team won $1,000and access to phase 1 of AltCity’s Startup Bootcamp. They also won the “Designed in Lebanon” award for the best hardware startup, earning two months of free design mentorship at the hbr (حبر) makerspace.

Finalists: Potential for the Future

All 7 finalists have the chance to interview for potential admission in Speed@BDD’s next acceleration cycle, which will begin in September 2016. 

3 of the remaining 4 ideas also dealt with recycling:

Scorbage is a smart collection bin that connects to users’ smartphones via NFC, then assigns points to them when they put recyclable waste in the right sorting slot. Revenues from the sale of recyclable materials would help fund a reward program for users when they redeem their points.

Trash Wars aims to encourage schools and scout organization to collect more recyclable materials. Participants accumulate points based on the type and quantity of materials they drop off, and can redeem them for rewards based on a profit-sharing model.

Recycle Lebanon is a full-fledged directory of recycling, upcycling, sorting, and collection initiatives within Lebanon. The platform would include educational material, as well as calls for action and volunteers in clean-up or recycling events.

The final participating team worked on the E-Passport, an ambitious project to replace physical passports with a smartphone app to reduce the risk of counterfeit or identity theft - not to mention reducing the use of paper and ink.

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