11 teams take home $37,500 in prize money at Myanmar’s biggest startup competition

WeSafe team wins first prize in the IoT category. Photo: Phandeeyar Myanmar Innovation Lab
  • 91 aspiring entrepreneurs on 28 teams pitched to 15 judges on Sunday, May 28, 2017, at StartUp Challenge 2017
  • Winning teams will join the Phandeeyar Pre-Accelerator program and offer innovative solutions in the country’s hottest tech sectors

Eleven new tech startups got a massive boost yesterday when they won a total of $37,500 of prize money at StartUp Challenge 2017 – Myanmar’s biggest-ever startup competition.

The final day of the nine-day competition, which was held at Phandeeyar’s innovation lab in downtown Yangon, saw 28 teams pitch their businesses to 15 expert judges.

Phandeeyar founder and CEO David Madden said: “Once again, we’ve seen the incredible talent and energy in Myanmar’s tech community. There were some great ideas on display today, and what these teams have accomplished in nine days is good indication of their potential. We’re looking forward to working closely with the winners to help them further develop their businesses.”

startup challenge
Photo: Phandeeyar Myanmar Innovation Lab

The teams were split into four categories: Fintech (financial technology), AgTech (agriculture technology), IoT (Internet of Things); and Tech for All. Details to the winning teams and description of their tech business ideas are mentioned in the table below:

Each first prize winning team will receive $5,000, and each runner-up team will get $2,500. All 11 winning teams will also gain entry into Phandeeyar’s Pre-Accelerator Program. This program provides intensive coaching, access to Phandeeyar’s mentor network, as well as free office space and internet at Phandeeyar.

Phandeeyar Accelerator director Jes Kaliebe Petersen said: “There is a big opportunity to use technology to provide goods and services that the Myanmar people need. Our goal is to help these startups further develop and test their ideas and to prove that they are developing something that people really want. If they can do then they’re on the road to building a successful business.”

Technology can make an impact on all of Myanmar – not just Myanmar’s nascent urban populations. Winners at StartUp Challenge 2017 shared their objectives to offer innovative solutions to those underserved by technology.

Dilaram, founder and CEO of Instacash, noted: “Right now, there aren’t any businesses in Myanmar using technology to innovate money lending. We have identified the money needs of Myanmar’s urban and rural populations during the past nine days. We believe that InstaCash would definitely serve these needs.”

Phandeeyar Myanmar Innovation Lab
Photo: Phandeeyar Myanmar Innovation Lab

Kyaw Wint Thu, CTO of Taung Thu Kyi, said: “Agriculture is the backbone business of Myanmar. Oftentimes, farmers have a hard time renting agricultural equipment due to a number of reasons. We have found out that this affects their productivity and yield in the long run. Setting up an online marketplace where they can rent farming equipment will help grow their businesses.” 

Wai Yan Nyein Naing, founder and CEO of WeSafe, said: “Having a PhD in Mechatronics helped me understand the needs for maintenance and real time security control systems for warehouses. We’re hoping to leverage the business-to-business space in Myanmar to offer a one-stop solution encompassing artificial intelligence and real-time security surveillance control systems. We believe that this is a niche that the safety industry in Myanmar needs help with.” 

Shwe Yamin Oo, founder of RecyGlo Myanmar, commented: “Myanmar is in dire need of innovative solutions in the recycling space. Through RecyGlo, we hope to inspire consumers and businesses to recognize the importance of recycling in Myanmar.”

StartUp Challenge 2017 was held in partnership with USAID, Uber, Wave Money, Telenor Digital, and Proximity Designs.

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