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The seven-member team of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Malaya (UM) students who won the top prize in the Startup Weekend Johor Baru event at the UTM campus, Skudai. The team is seen here with the panel of judges who were headed by Nusantara Technologies Sdn Bhd executive chairman, Datuk Ghazali Yusoff (standing fourth from right). Pix courtesy of UTM Technology Entrepreneurship Centre (UTMTEC)

JOHOR BHARU: It was a gathering of young minds and entrepreneurs when 60 students from four varsities took part in a three-day workshop to flesh out ideas for start-ups, or scalable business ventures.

The Startup Weekend JB at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Skudai becomes a platform for the participants to brainstorm for something which could possibly become the next big thing in entrepreneurship.

The students participating were from four varsities: UTM, Universiti Malaya, Taylor’s University and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

The event was jointly organised by the UTM Technology Entrepreneurship Centre, UTM Entrepreneur Cell Club and Wadhwani Foundations.

The students were separated into nine groups where they brainstorm and later present their start-up ideas in front of entrepreneur judges.

Four of those entrepreneurs, who have successfully set up their own household start-ups ventures, became mentors to the participants.

UTM Technology Entrepreneurship Centre manager, Dr Mohd Zaidi Abd Rozan said the event was the first to be held in a Malaysian varsity.

“The Startup Weekend JB was targeted to promote awareness about the proper ways to become an entrepreneur,” said Zaidi.

The groups came up with novel ideas such as equipment that could detect brain waves, and mobile apps that will help source for second-hand books and help in solving parking woes.

However, it was a seven-member team of UTM and UM students who won over the panel of judges with their idea for “Higher Up”, a platform that helps students look for part-time jobs.

They took home a RM1,500 top prize for successfully pitching their proposal.

UM business administration student, Ng Jun Wei said his team would soon patent the idea.

“We had about three solid ideas which we discarded. The idea for ‘Higher Up’ was the fifth idea that we had and the judges seemed to like it,” said Ng, 21.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur Evelyn Samuel, who was among the mentors said imparting knowledge on start-ups was essential now due to challenging global economy.

“In the current global economic situation, we have to think of more ideas to lower costs.

“Equipping students with the know-how for start-ups will help to supplement their income and improve the livelihood of the people,” said Samuel, who is founder-director of Atheneum Communications Services, which developed a mobile app for blended learning last year.

Another mentor, Jason Kang, who is chief financial officer at Servishero.com said his best advice to potential entrepreneurs was for them to make sure their team was diverse to enable more ideas to go into a solid marketing plan.

Event organising committee chairman, Nor Aisah Hatta, 21, who is majoring in technology management at UTM said her team was inspired by the success stories of entrepreneurs such as Kang and Samuel, and wanted other students to have an opportunity to learn the basics of entrepreneurship.

Original article by Ahmad Fairuz Othman, NST