bootcamp

Building an Online Pharmacy Delivery Service

Five One Labs Entrepreneur Interview

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Understanding the background, passions and motivations of the entrepreneurs we work with at Five One Labs is one of the best parts of running our incubator! In this post we introduce you to a team of stellar entrepreneurs (Peru, Ali and Halbast) who participated in our recent Startup Bootcamp. They are working to develop an online pharmacy delivery service and sat down with us to tell us a bit more about themselves and their work!

Q: What is your personal background ?

Peru: My name is Peru. I am studying Information Technology as a  major and business administration as a minor at the American University of Iraq - Sulaimani (AUIS). As a young woman, I am always seeking to have my own business in the future. I started my first step by participating in the Startup Bootcamp where I learned how to improve and find out the strengths and the weaknesses of my idea. 

Q: How did your team come together?

Peru: Since we are a group of three students in two different majors, IT and business at AUIS, we decided to create a business idea which connects both fields together. Because of the fact that we were always interested in participating or volunteering in different events inside and outside the university, we decided to visit Hawler (Erbil) when the event was shared on the Five One Labs Facebook page. Then, the details of our idea were developed during the two days training at the MSelect office. 

Q: What is your teams professional and personal background? 

Peru: My team members are both students studying Business Administration at the American University of Iraq. They  are really hard working people and interested in getting new experiences and spreading new ideas in the community. 

Q: How did your idea come about? What problem are you solving?

Ali: Almost about 10 years ago, I was home all alone with a child who had a chronic lung disease. We were running out of his asthma spray. Back then, I had no clue how to handle the situation. The child was too young to be left alone, and I was too young to drive. Luckily, our neighbor saved his life. Imagine, if that did not happen. I remember when my mother came back home, she said something that initiated the idea in my mind. "I wish there were a home delivery medicine," she said. I introduced the idea to my colleagues, and we developed it along with our survey that we made with pharmacists and patients. We found out not only the patients have problems getting their medicine but also the pharmacists. 

With this online system, we are trying to make our system more efficient and less time consuming for pharmacists to take their medicine on time and with no confusion or misunderstanding that might happen during their order. Having data bases between the pharmacists and the drug store owners will reduce this confusion. 

Q: Why is this pharmacy service important in Kurdistan? 

Ali: This pharmacy service is significantly important in the Kurdistan region because our old system of receiving medicine from the drug stores is very time consuming. This online system will help pharmacists get their order to their pharmacy faster with less misunderstanding. Also, this online system will help our patients get their medicine from the closest pharmacy next to their location. Pharmacists can also deliver some of the medicine to the patients as long as they are approved on the website that they are not addictive, such as Panadol.

Q: How did you find out about Five One Labs? 

Peru: I found out about Five One Labs before I participate in the Startup Boot Camps event, which was shared on Facebook page. A couple days before that, Five One Labs arranged a similar event at the AUIS, and I have heard new related ideas and experiences from my friends who joined the event. Therefore, we need more events like these in the future to improve youth's abilities in the Kurdistan Region. 

Q: How has Five One Labs helped you improve your idea and business? 

Peru: Before I participate in the Startup Boot Camps, it was like a dream to imagine having my own business as a woman. I am so grateful to be part of the Five One Labs and appreciate their great efforts to progress our business ideas. It taught me not only to think differently but also to analyze my dream from the base of nothing to design plans, find solutions to the problems, creat business models, prototypes, pitch, and finally following the paths on succeeding my business. Since I was introduced to great minded people including, mentors, judges, and volunteers, it encouraged me to keep in touch with them and share future projects with them. Above all, these would never be happened without the supports of the Five One Labs.

Q: How is it being a young woman entrepreneur in Kurdistan? 

Peru: In the Kurdistan Region, there are fewer opportunities for women to open their own businesses compared to men, and this is mostly because of either the culture, gender inequality, or women's responsibilities at home. Therefore, to be a young woman entrepreneur in Kurdistan has a special value to me because it gives me enough courage to turn my dreams into reality at an early age, and it expands my expectations to become what I desire as a woman.

Above all, I was always passionate about helping other women to overcome their fear of success, always appreciate and remember their achievements to make a change in their lives and fight for what they want. Therefore, it was a great opportunity to introduce to different great minded people turning my potential abilities into performance and placing confidence in me to continue pursuing my goals and solve major problems in the community.

"To be a young woman entrepreneur in Kurdistan has a special value to me because it gives me enough courage to turn my dreams into reality at an early age, and it expands my expectations to become what I desire as a woman." - Peru, online pharmacy co-founder

Q: What would you say to people in America who are skeptical about entrepreneurship in Kurdistan? 

Peru: It is true we won’t stop at a place but we will keep on improving on our path to being one of the best.

Q: Why are you interested in entrepreneurship? Why is entrepreneurship so important?

Halbast: Entrepreneurship is very important in my country as it can be used as a weapon to fight back against the backward system we are used to, as it also helps the economic growth.

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Startup Bootcamp: Meet Erbil's Newest Entrepreneurs

Five One Labs is proud to announce Erbil's newest batch of entrepreneurs, fresh off their first Startup Bootcamp! 

Last weekend, forty incredible young entrepreneurs gathered in Erbil to learn the skills and mindsets of entrepreneurship and to take their startups from idea to reality. As part of Five One Labs’ first Startup Bootcamp, these 12 startup teams interviewed customers, brainstormed creative solutions, built prototypes, and pitched in front of a panel of esteemed judges. They even managed to squeeze in some fun into the schedule!

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The forty participants were chosen from over great 90 applicants. These impressive participants came from all over the region: some were from Erbil and Sulaimani in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, while others were displaced from Southern Iraq or Syria.

The startup ideas were as diverse as the participants. Ideas ranged from a taxi-hailing app that would provide safe taxi rides for women or the elderly; a gaming site in Kurdish and Arabic, designers or writers; and an event-planning service that ensured conferences and other events were environmentally sustainable. Other ideas included a platform to connect pharmacies with patients that allowed medicine deliveries even in the middle of the night. Entrepreneurs aimed to solve societal problems, generate impact, and fill gaps in the market.

At the end of the first day, entrepreneurs had an opportunity to meet with mentors – entrepreneurial professionals in Erbil – to discuss their business model and get advice. At the end of the second day, the entrepreneurs met with their mentors again to practice their pitch before the final competition.

Finally, after two days of hard work, the teams pitched their startups in front of a panel of impressive judges, including a local entrepreneur as well as representatives from the US Consulate General in Erbil, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Teams showed their prototypes and explained their business models and opportunities for growth.

So, who were the winning teams? The first place team was “Virtual Teacher” – a virtual reality startup that is building an educational game to teach refugees and IDP’s in Iraq the local language. Second place went to “On Time, Under Budget,” a platform to connect freelancers with organizations in need of short term design or coding skills. And third place went to a startup that will build beautiful, low-cost furniture out of recycled shipping materials.

Congratulations to all of Startup Bootcamp participants! Keep an eye out for more videos and interviews with our participants in the coming weeks, and check out our Facebook page for more photos! 

Interested in joining a Startup Bootcamp? The next one will be in mid-September in Erbil!