The first Startup Weekend in Cuba ended last month with great enthusiasm for the startups teams’ success in organizing ideas and turning them into reality.
The organizers for Startup Weekend Havana included: Ramphis Castro (no relation to Fidel), Medardo Rodriguez, Rodney Hernandez and Alex Medina. The event’s facilitator was Santiago Zavala, Venture Partner, at 500Startups.
Startup Weekend organizes high-impact, experiential events that foster entrepreneurship and community building in every corner of the world. As of last year, the organization hosted 80,000 budding entrepreneurs at 905 Startup Weekend events, in 501 cities, and in 135 countries.
The event’s premium sponsor is .CO, the domain extension that has become synonymous with tech innovation and entrepreneurship globally. .CO is a global sponsor of Startup Weekend events worldwide and made a special effort to be the first “local” sponsor in Cuba to ensure the event had the funding it needed to get off the ground.
The Cuba Journal was able to catch up with Alex to discuss how the event went. Here are the questions:
1. What was your overall impression of how Cubans view tech and startups in general.
I was particularly impressed by the level of commitment of the participants. I was fully aware of their technical skills but didn’t expected so much hard work and determination over the weekend.
2. The tech/startups scene is very small in Cuba. Was the structure/process for the Startup Weekend a challenge for Cubans?
I wouldn’t say the tech scene is small… on the contrary. Startup involvement, particularly when considered as a full-time “job”, is not as usual though… but I’d say is blooming.
The structure/process for the Startup Weekend was not a challenge at all. The facilitator (Santiago from Mexico) did an excellent job.
3. Describe some the problems the Cuban teams were trying to solve? Were they specific to Cuba?
4. Was Cuban government policy towards tech and startups a topic of discussion during the event?
No, it was not.
5. Who won?
In Spanish “Mi Escaparate” (the English would be either My-Wardrobe or
My-Storefront … it may mean any of them depending on the context).
He adds, “We’re focusing solely on technology and entrepreneurs and expanding opportunities for Cubans. There is no political aspect to our event.”