Peace (and Startups) in the Middle East
World leaders have focused on peace in the Middle East for decades and efforts to engage populations directly through entertainment and the arts -- like music, dance, poetry and painting -- have also aimed to bridge the gap between cultures.
Now, Startup Weekend is banking on entrepreneurship -- bringing aspiring entrepreneurs from Israel and Palestine together in Tel Aviv for a 54-hour event designed to plan and develop startups.
The event was recently highlighted in a Women Entrepreneur article, "Peace Through Entrepreneurship":
Startup Weekend Tel Aviv began on Wednesday and finished up Friday. During that time, 130 Israelis and 30 Palestinians worked together, aiming to create viable new businesses. Fifty-six ideas were pitched Wednesday, with 16 selected for teams. "Once you enter into the Startup Weekend event, there is no Israeli, Palestinian, or American--there are entrepreneurs, developers, investors, designers working together to build technology and have fun," Harel says.
It isn't easy getting Palestinians and Israelis together, according to Marc Nager, Clint Nelsen and Franck Nouyrigat, directors of the nonprofit Startup Weekend. The organization had to get government approval, hire a bus and lease the Peres Peace House in Jaffa, Israel.
Some of the 16 ideas selected as teams formed around potential startups included:
- Azma – Mobile text based system to monitor traffic using crowdsourcing.
- Doctor Web – The new village doctor. International online medical services. Local nurses record medical treatment for on-duty doctors to diagnose remotely.
- Movieoke – Karaoke killer. Act with subtitles on the screen.
- Open Letter – Send letters to public and government authorities directly and share the letters and replies openly to create public pressure & improved services.
- Virgin Bid – Web based app that plugs into airplane sites and allows a user to bid on who they want to sit next to.
- World Tour Guide – Mobile app for GPS assisted audio tourguides. Crowdsource voice recordings of tours.
During last year's Global Entrepreneurship Week, ten Startup Weekend events pushed participants from idea to launch in 54 hours. Dozens of ventures were developed in nine US cities and London. This year, the team is planning more than 20 events around the world during GEW (November 15 - 21, 2010). Stay tuned for a list of cities and countries.