IRIS invites entrepreneurs and members of the AUIS community to an event to discuss the state of entrepreneurship in Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Global Entrepreneurship Week, hosted by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, celebrates the experiences of entrepreneurs across the world.
Have you ever imagined running your own restaurant in the future? Have you ever thought about competing with different people from different regions? Well, I have and I used my imagination in a training with two AUIS friends recently. On July 28-29, we attended the Five One Labs Startup Bootcamp, a two-day, intensive training on the skills and mindsets of entrepreneurship in Erbil. During the training, participants worked on a business idea to take it from concept to pitch. We defined the challenge, interviewed ‘customers’ to learn more about their needs, identified our value proposition, and developed our business model. We built prototypes and pitched them in front of a panel of impressive judges. It was hard work but extremely rewarding, and fun. Alice Bosley, executive director of Five One Labs, says, “I was so impressed with the ideas and the talent of the participants at startup bootcamp. It was such a pleasure working with and learning alongside everyone, and we look forward to hosting more bootcamps in the future!" A startup bootcamp is basically about sharing and expanding business ideas. Our group of AUIS students was excited to participate and present our idea, which is to link customers, pharmaceuticals, and medicine stores together for an efficient online delivery system. We want to develop and apply this idea because we want to make things easier for people when they need particular medication quickly and efficiently. "Being an entrepreneur does not only mean to think differently; but, to build your dream from nothing into concrete plans, finding solutions to problems, creating business models, prototypes, pitch, and then learning ways to turn it to real business. Above all, we have learned that these cannot be done individually. Thus, we introduced the idea to different people there including, mentors, judges, volunteers, and the participants, and we have the opportunity to keep in touch with them to support each other and share new projects between us,” said Peru Hussein, an AUIS student and a member of our team. The challenging part of starting up our business idea was to find out what our customers really need. In the beginning, knowing customers and understanding them seemed easy until we participated in this training program. One of the mentors, for instance, helped us define the challenges we might face like setting out a plan for our revenue and marketing research if we ever failed in spreading out the business in the region. "Med4all.com is a great idea and can be useful for everyone in this field such as pharmacists, wholesellers and individuals, especially since people here are face problems with pharmacies and they need this kind of service in critical situations. I saw the interface which is clear, user friendly, and safe because no one can ask for critical medicatiom without a prescription to avoid illegal requests. My advice is to add more features such as maps, customer support live chat, and delivery time,” said Mr. David, a mentor from Bite Tech Company. “I always thought our idea was perfect and ready to start, yet I never thought sbout important small details we were introduced to during the Bootcamp. Within the very intensive two days, I was taught how to pitch in only three minutes in front of four judges and an audience of 50. I learned that it is not how profitable your business idea is, it is, instead, about how effective and challenging it is to bring a new system to the whole region of Kurdistan,” said Ali Kawa, an AUIS student and a member of our team. Our challenges were simple, yet they were too difficult to recognize without the help of our mentors. “I actually really liked it. I had yours in my “top 3” when we started debating projects. You three had great enthusiasm and seem to have a really good idea,” said Noah Woodiwiss, one of the judges. It was such a great and useful experience for us. We want to encourage AUIS students to be part of such events to share ideas and gain skills as future leaders and entrepreneurs to expand their business ideas. Written by Halbast Abdullah, AUIS student and communications volunteer Photos: Five One Labs
On July 24, 2017, the newly-established AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEI) and FiveOne Labs co-hosted a workshop on design thinking and the entrepreneurial process in partnership with the Nishtiman Youth Network. The workshop was facilitated by Alice Bosley, Executive Director of Five One Labs, and IRIS Research Fellow Aaron Bartnick, future MBA candidate at the University of Oxford. The workshop drew 50 students from six universities across the region, including AUIS. After a brief welcome from the workshop facilitators, AUIS President Professor Bruce Walker Ferguson offered opening remarks on the role that entrepreneurship can play in supporting societal change, and emphasized the entrepreneurial potential of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Professor Hemin Latif followed these remarks with an overview of the three attributes he considers to be essential to an entrepreneurial mindset: the innovative vision to see unmet needs and come up with new solutions, the willingness to take risks, and the resilience to stick with a venture over the long term, despite the inevitable setbacks encountered along the way. Bosley then led the group in an hour-long “design sprint,” in which participants paired off and conducted several iterations of user research before designing a product to help meet a need they uncovered. This process, she explained in conclusion, is exactly how you should be approaching your startup ideas. AEI is a research and advocacy program focused on improving Iraq and the Kurdistan Region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. AEI will continue to host events like this one throughout the year, while publishing research like the recently released report, “Obstacles and Opportunities for Entrepreneurship in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.” Five One Labs is a start-up incubator that helps refugees and conflict-affected entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses in the Middle East. Launched first in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Five One Labs aim to empower individuals to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and to contribute to the economic growth of their communities.
As part of the first ever Summer Startup Festival, Five One Labs is partnering with AUIS's Entrepreneurship Center and the Nishtiman Youth Network to host a 2-hour, high-energy Entrepreneurship Workshop on July 24th, from 4-6pm. Participants in the workshop will learn the mindsets and tools of an entrepreneur, including ‘design thinking,’ an innovative approach to identifying problems and designing solutions. Participants will dive into customer research, creativity, and product development, and will leave with a better understanding of the exciting world of entrepreneurship and innovation. When: July 24th, 4:00 -6:00 pm Who: Five One Labs, AUIS Entrepreneurship Center, and the Nishtiman Youth Network For more information on Five One Labs, please visit https://fiveonelabs.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/fiveonelabs/.