BEIRUT: A panel of judges and hundreds of audience members at the ArabNet conference watched as presenters at the Startup Demo had 10 minutes to pitch their ideas while those at the Ideathon had only two minutes.
The competitions drew contestants from across the region and ideas ranged from practical solutions for coping with information overload, social media, household and health needs, and access to online education to an eccentric app called “Only in Lebanon” that alerts users when there is a nearby gunshot.
A live Twitter feed showed audience reactions to the presentations, with the highest number of praises for Ideathon contestant Darine Sabbagh, whose “Baby Talk” app allows new mothers to share their expensive baby gear with other families, which their children quickly outgrow.
From the Startup Demo, Twitter users appeared impressed with Preso.ly, a presentation clicker app.
The winners, who will be announced Friday, the final day of the conference in Beirut, will be awarded cash prizes. The top three from the Ideathon will be given exhibition spaces where they can network with other attendees, and the winner of the Startup Demo will be awarded with a year of office space worth $10,000 provided by Solidere, which, along with Microsoft, sponsored the Startup Demo.
Ziad Matar – regional manager of the semi-conductor company Qualcomm, sponsor of the Ideathon – said he had seen ideas evolve from basic to much more advanced over just a couple of years, and said that they were moving from Web to mobile – which was good for his business.
“The ideas are getting more sophisticated and refined. Half of the ideas have global potential. The challenge will be to see where they are three months from now.”