Budding Rockstars 2018 - youths turn tech entrepreneurs for a day

The 2018 edition of Budding Rockstars was held on Thursday 8th November at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valletta.

The event was attended by 140, final year secondary school students and more than 50 educators hailing from 36 schools in Malta and Gozo.

Budding Rockstars is an innovation event by the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), forming part of a wider set of activity undertaken by the Authority, aimed at exposing young persons to technology entrepreneurship. The event targeted students from across all public, church and private schools in Malta and Gozo.

The event provided students with an opportunity to interact with emerging and established tech entrepreneurs and to gain valuable insights on the key characteristics of entrepreneurship. Moreover, participants were encouraged to learn about and consider tech entrepreneurship as a career path.

The MCA firmly believes in the importance of instilling entrepreneurship in the young and the message to every young person present at the Budding Rockstars event today was clear – believe in your vision.

Various inspirational speakers shared their story with the attendees.

A colourful introduction by Growth Gurus’ Josh O’ Cock was a splendid ice breaker and got the young attendees ready for a day of creativity.

Nathan Farrugia spoke about lighting one’s fire and the importance of enthusiasm, to kickstart a bright future.

Abdalla Kablan, from DELTA Summit, spoke about how belief, commitment and looking beyond the comfort zone contributes towards transforming one’s vision into tangible achievements.

Robyn Pratt drew from her wealth of experience to share a new perspective with the attendees.  She told the students how everyone’s reality is different and to learn from their unique experiences.

Zach Ciappara spoke about his entrepreneurial journey with FreeHour, a MITA-backed app that helps students connect on campus during their free time, which today has 16K users.

Brian Azzopardi from Rawstream and Jonas Eneroth from Karmafy were both interviewed by MCA’s Alistair Farrugia. Brian spoke about his transition from an employee at a large software company, to a founder, and eventually a CEO of a Wi-Fi filtering startup. Jonas shared his experience in the video gaming industry, and how this is nowadays contributing to Karmafy, a platform that leverages gaming for social good.

Other speaking contributions were made by Vioside, emphasising how they concentrate on developing robust yet simple mobile apps, and by Cecilia Mzayek from Celuna, who contributed with her experience of going through JAYE’s Start-Up Programme.

In subsequent group activities, coordinated by the Edward de Bono Institute, students were exposed to creativity and innovation techniques aimed at facilitating idea generation in a business context. Students worked in groups to develop novel business concepts that applied ICTs and addressed a problem. Ideas were afterwards exhibited, voted upon and the teams with the best three ideas were invited to pitch on stage in the final phase of Budding Rockstars.

Visiting the event and meeting students working on their ideas, the Minister for Education, Hon. Evarist Bartolo, commented on how this type of event breeds adaptability, flexibility, complex problem-solving skills, and team work which is lacking in formal education. The idea to prepare young people for employability is to be encouraged, such events are critical in this pursuit.

The students with the most voted ideas were then invited to pitch on stage, with Chucky Bartolo from Lovin Malta acting as the moderator. Judging for the final ‘pitch competition’ was handled by Dr Leonie Baldacchino, University of Malta; Matthew Caruana, ZAAR Crowdfunding Malta; Alex Borg from MITA Innovation Hub, and Julian Azzopardi from Junior Achievement Young Enterprise. The judges noted how the business idea is very important, but it is ultimately the execution that matters the most. Whereas a strong idea could help the business to grow quickly in the early stages, it takes a strong team to sustain such growth and secure the business long-term.

Budding Rockstars formed part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Malta 2018 and was organised by the MCA in collaboration with the Edward de Bono Institute and the Directorate for Educational Services. The event was supported by the Secretariat for Catholic Education, and the BeSmartOnline campaign.

The MCA has set up a Facebook page for Budding Rockstars to serve as a platform for further engagement.