The first Bhutan National Startup weekend, technology edition began yesterday in Thimphu with a boot camp for the 157 participants selected from seven colleges and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The initial round of selection for the participants and their ideas was conducted in seven colleges and in Bhutan Innovation and Technology Centre (BITC), Thimphu TechPark. Twenty ideas were selected from each college between February and March this year.

Twenty-four ideas were selected from among youth and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The colleges include Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, Sherubtse College, Gaeddu College of Business Studies, College of Language and Culture Studies, College of Science and Technology, College of Natural Resources, and Royal Thimphu College.

The participants would be given a minute to pitch their business ideas. Only about 20 to 21 ideas will be selected for the next round. In the next round, teams will work on developing prototypes and business models including market research.

On March 18, the final presentations will be done on the ideas. Top five ideas will be awarded cash prizes.

The winner will be awarded a cash prize of Nu 800,000 from Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC). The second will be awarded Nu 600,000 from Druk Holding and Investments (DHI). The third will get Nu 400,000 from Ministry of Labour and Human Resources. The fourth best business idea will be given Nu 200,000 from DHI and the fifth will get Nu 100,000 from Bank of Bhutan.

The winner of the special category will be awarded an amount of Nu 140,000 sponsored by Tashi Group of Companies.

MoIC Secretary, Dasho Karma W Penjor, said: “The startup weekend is not a full stop. It is just a comma. If you want, from the government’s side we have the necessary conditions to facilitate your journey to the market.”

MoIC minister DN Dhungyel said that there is a need to change the expectations of the youth that government is the main source of employment. “Every youth must aspire to become an entrepreneur by himself or herself. This is how startups can benefit the country’s economy.”

MoIC with support from BITC and Techstars is organising the startup weekend.

Karma Cheki