Author Archives: ahmedriyazi

About ahmedriyazi

gadget freak, internet and caffeine addict, food lover, apple fanatic, android dabbler and self labeled geek

Techstars startupweekend Maldives – The first of Many (hopefully)

It’s been a while since i’ve updated the blog, life happened.. andits been a week since we held the first startupweekend here in Maldives, (27th to 29th Oct 2017) that experience has been enough for me to dust off the old blog and put some of the thoughts i’ve been having about the event and the startup culture here in Maldives on metaphorical paper here!

Being part of the organising team has been an insane experience, even though Techstars provides a ton of reference materials, checklists and other support, this has been a learning experience personally, draining but hugely rewarding, and we couldn’t have done without the amazing team we had, some of them i met for the first time, others i have known for a while. All of them committed to making this happen, giving their time and effort out of passion for starting and developing a startup culture here in Maldives. Thank you guys, it has been a wonderful ride.

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Our team minus Niushad and the amazing facilitator Anurag from Techstars 

I was involved in running a number of similar-ish events before, couple of hackathons, by kickstart , other community talks, and events. I have to admit I came into this with some assumptions / reservations / worries / concerns about the event. I’m glad to be proven wrong… i’ll list down just 3….

 

Assumption 1 – The right people might not show up!

Considering the events held previously, and the questions we got pre-event, i was wondering if people would come for the experience that is startupweekend or for the prizes, the organising team along with guidance from our facilitator anurag decided not to publish any prizes before the event.. surprisingly, we sold out all our seats regardless, people were interested, they were just unaware of how it worked.

Assumption 2 – Most participants won’t pitch the 60 second pitch!


So glad i was wrong about this, it was incredible to see the participants line up immediately. i think all of the organizers were pleasantly surprised by the response. the guys just rocked the pitch, 41 ideas in total for the first one out of 50+ participants is just an amazing ratio.

Assumption 3 – Mentors wont have the time!


The mentors were absolute stars! We brought in experts in multiple fields who are really super busy, but they set aside everything and spent a huge chunk of the time with the participants, some even flew in! the participants soaked up their expertise and it could be seen in their change of conversations and approaches to problems from day one to day three.  We couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of mentors.

So the big question is, did we make a difference? i think we did. The conversations with the participants post event most are committed to try to make their idea a reality some are already in talks with potential investors, they loved the event in general and want more of it. Some talked about how it altered their thinking towards a more all encompassing approach towards starting up something.

We’ve already met with some participants who want to help organize more startupweekends here in Maldives and thats encouraging,

The road to building a proper startup culture wont pave itself in one weekend, its a concept thats new here and will take a lot of time and effort,  but this has been one time i think i’ve genuinely believed that theres hope for such a culture.

Looking forward to being involved in a bunch more of these events!! Till next time.. this has been Fun!

 

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Myanmar getaway – day 5. Inle Lake (On the Lake)

I know the post is delayed, been caught up in other things to press the post button…

Early day today… wanted to head off to the lake before the sun came up and made everything unbearable.. even on the lake….  a day hire of a traditional boat costs around USD 15-18 depending on the ‘package’ you choose but generally includes the hotspots.. which would be

  • The moving market which changes location every day (5 days a week)
  • The floating gardens
  • Silverwork, weaving, and handicraft villages
  • The Kayan people or the ‘Long-neck’ ladies of Myanmar
  • Jumping cat monastery
  • and general riding around the lake watching the fisherfolk do their thing

Although some locations such as the workshops feel like obvious tourist traps, it seems like its locally and community owned, so if you want to help out the community it might be good to spend a little money there as a little will go a long way.

lunch on the river is a must, its an experience to dock to a restaurant hut on the lake and have a great lunch with a good view and then head off on the boat again.

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The view from our lunch stop… not too shabby

tomorrow, its back to yangon, and heading off early morning back to KL and onwards to Male’.

Related : Myanmar getaway – day 5. Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe)

https://noodlydoodly.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/myanmar-getaway-day-5-inle-lake-nyaung-shwe/#post-107850007

Myanmar getaway – day 5. Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe)

Flew in from Bagan today to Heho airport, another small airport, got sorted using the stickers as mentioned in the previous post. few interesting points…

  • boarding passes were un-named, and no seats were allocated. free seating option! this was a first for me at least!
  • AirKBZ 248 we were on does a circuit route Yangon-Bagan-Heho-Yangon…   you are visiting and you want to fly to these destinations might be a good route to take as it helps avoid multiple hops most flights here have. but i’m sure there’s other alternatives.. air KBZ was what we chose.
  • the entrance zone ticket costs USD10  or EUR 10… which isn’t exactly the same exchange rate, but not too far off.. pay with whatever makes you happy.. this ticket is purchased on the way to inle at a checkpoint…

we are staying in Nyaung Shwe, a tiny township north of inle lake, it feels primary like a guest house town with tons of guesthouses/hotels and a bunch of restaurants around… but feels a bit more remote than bagan even..

this time we chose to rent proper bikes and explore…  tip.. get a mountain bike with the gear switching ability, its amazing how useful it is under the changing conditions of the road, you will be glad you did.

the town is small, surrounded by canals of water and paddyfields… which contribute to a great panoramic view. the bike ride was breathtaking as we crossed paddyfields, into tiny villages, and through the bamboo plantations… totally worth the physical effort.

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the rain was unexpected for us at least, bagan was having such a dry and hot weather…. we were unprepared.

but the kindness of the locals was amazing, twice we were stranded in the rain and both times we were invited into the homes of the locals to get out of the rain and they tried to make conversation as much as they could, offered us tea.. to complete strangers from a foriegn land… and to be honest i’ve been seeing this trend everywhere here.. its people are just so friendly and genuinely curious.

Food

food today was interesting. lunch was at a small italian sorta place called the star flower, surprisingly they did have their own wood fired oven for pizzas and fresh basil growing outside. they even showed us their oven with a lot of pride. the pizza’s were good! specially the one with the fresh pesto… and their milkshakes and lassi was pretty darn good too.. creamy and full of flavour.

for dinner we went to another lonely planet recommended local food place called the Lin Htet…  had a mix of local curries and rice with the accompaniments that come along with a traditional meal such as soups, anchovies, pickles etc… kinda reminds me of a thali meal from india.. as far as the concept goes. food is good here and the price is reasonable too.. under USD 3 for a full meal without drinks. looks like the LP recommendation is working, whole bunch of backpackers/foreigners show up here.

Tomorrow is the day for the lake 🙂 ..

Related : Day 4 – Bagan :https://noodlydoodly.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/myanmar-getaway-day-4-bagan-exploration/#post-107849973

Myanmar getaway – day 4.Bagan exploration

Managed to get a proper nights sleep… and a good thing too.. a jam packed day… Hotel’s breakfast was pretty darn good. international spread with a few local items thrown in as well.. wasn’t disappointed… i must say lonely planet advice on this hotel (Aye Yar River view hotel) was good but their pricing was way higher than what we got it for… we almost managed to get it half the price than on the lonely planet guide.

grabbed a couple of e-bikes, strange pricing tho… in a 2 seater bike if one rider is there they charge the same as they would do for a 1 seater. but if a passenger is there. the price doubles… oh well.. i guess its for a rider not per bike… we paid USD 8 per rider for 8 hrs.. could have probably got it cheaper if we hunted around but it was more convenient and we get to start our exploration immediately.

as for the pagodas and temples… you really had to be there to understand the beauty of the place.. no photos could really describe it… but its still better than words so here’s a bunch of photos…

This view was surreal..

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The Vast expanse covered with temples and ruins..

Food:

We tried to stick to local food, with a slip up here an there.. but really the local food is very yummy, specially if you like the food around the region.. most seem to be a fusion of thai, indian, and other south and south east asian cuisine… but in a unique way.. not too spicy..  lunch was at a lovely place called black bamboo in Nyaung-U and we drove to new bagan our trusted little e-scooties to have dinner at a hidden little place called sunset garden. would recommend to try the set menu’s there.. seems to offer a better value than picking individual items, if you have a party of 3-4. Both places were on the lonely planet guide… 

Bagan was great! but tomorrow early morning after breakfast we head off to inle lake!

related:

Day 3 – Bagan : https://noodlydoodly.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/myanmar-getaway-day-3-bagan/

Myanmar getaway – day 3.Bagan

Update 1

Another early day. flight to bagan is at 8am, had to leave the hotel at around 6 to make it to the flight.. the lack of sleep and rest is getting to us…

check-in was easy.. no luggage belts and such.. we handed over our check-in luggage to the counter and a couple of guys came an took them away.. gave us some stickers to stick to our shirts for identification at the gate.. i guess it helps with the language barrier and to ensure people don’t get on the wrong flights…

however the local airlines seemed very efficient, whisking us away on a bus to the plane.. and leaving the tarmac full 15 mins before the scheduled flight time…  this was def a first.. we were warned about the quality of the airlines but the one we chose (Air KBZ) didn’t seem too bad…

Bagan Airport(Nyaung U) is as expected a tiny one, luggage was brought in by hand and  luggage tags checked and we were able to claim and move out… had to buy the Bagan Archaeological Zone pass for USD 20 from the airport. this pass gives us access to the area’s pagodas/temples etc. went out took a taxi for USD 6 to our hotel in old bagan… pretty hassle free.

Hotel turned out to be a pleasant surprise.. seemed like we got a very good deal and ended up in a pretty high end one for a lowish price… was nice.. decided to make this a day for recuperation since we really needed to pay our rest and sleep debt. exploring for later in the day.

Update 2

For lunch tried a Myanmar themed set.. was yummy reminded me of thai, indian sort of fusion… not bad at all.. not spicy.. mild balanced flavours.

Explore time… the area is huge.. so exploring on foot was out of the question. we rented some e-bikes which are easy to use and allowed us to do whatever we wanted on our own time… looks cute..

Had to turn in relatively early… was exhausted.. and tomorrow is a big day! proper exploration of the area…

related:

Day 2 : https://noodlydoodly.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/myanmar-getaway-day-2-yangonfor-di/

Myanmar getaway – day 2.Yangon

Update 1

Day 2. Waking up is hard… specially if you wake up at 3 am and all the sleep You had in the last 2 days amount to less than 5 hrs combined… But we’re off to yangon! so Yay!

way too early for this..

tired but excited!

Update 2

Yangon airport it relatively small compared to other hubs in the region.. but thats no surprise. we had the e-visa papers so getting through immigration was easy and no hassles… changed money to the kyat from the airport which the lonely planet suggested had the best rates.. and strangely it seems to be the case…

Raniya’s friend Bon, arranged for transport and we met up with him and his family at his place…after a lovely breakfast at Bon’s place we dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed to Shwedagon Pagoda… “Shwedagon Pagoda was constructed more than 2,600 years ago, making it the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world” says wikipedia… so yes.. its gold.. so much gold.. so much glare.. hurts the eyes to even look.. but really an amazing place…

Tip : you have to remove all footware including socks to enter any of these pagoda’s/temples . it’s not a fun thing to walk around on a scorching hot surface baking under a 40 degree sun… maybe try to time your visits earlier in the morning or later during the day during the hot days… your feet might thank you for it… although inaz says this is purely a mind over matter issue… 

was so dehydrated by the time we were done with the pagoda’s we decided to break for lunch… went to a lovely spot called my garden.. think we overdid it with food…

after lunch we hit the bogyoke market, a colonial style building / area with tiny shops and cobblestoned streets with a variety of jewelry,fabric,clothes,handiwork,antique stores amongst others.

for dinner we went to my garden restaurant again…. the same place were we had lunch.. with bon and family… live music… great atmosphere… brilliant company… and most importantly good food… was a great way to end the night…

related  : https://noodlydoodly.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/myanmar-getaway-day-1-prep/

Myanmar getaway – day 1.Prep

I haven’t yet so far used my blog for anything other than tech related stuff but I’ve been traveling a lot recently and for some reason I haven’t been documenting any of it. And so why not… Something to look back at and maybe it will even help out someone later on..   Thoughts / suggestions are welcome of coz..

Day1 – male to KL

Update 1

Needed one day to hang out in KL, buy some much needed travel gear for the Myanmar leg of the journey which starts tomorrow early morning.

Managed to stuff all my stuff including travel tech into my workhorse.. The osprey atmos 65.

the atmos 65.. lots of room .. extremely comfortable on the back

This bag has been brilliant on so many trips. Local and overseas. But it’s drawback is that since it’s a hiking backpack it’s not the most ideal for airplane travel and is not carry on Size

So gonna replace it with something more suitable. Going out to look for one in a bit.

Update 2

Found a couple bags that looks pretty good. The osprey farpoint 40 which I’ve been looking at for a while which is also carry on compliant. And the osprey daylight daypack for well.. Daypack use..  I should be set for travel luggage with this trio… Yes a fan of osprey. Great products.. Will put some pics up a bit later. Way too tired. Almost 48 hours without sleep…

Early flight tomorrow to yangon. Have to wake up around 3 am ish…

related : https://noodlydoodly.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/myanmar-getaway-day-2-yangonfor-di/