The Rotterdam Start Up Weekend 2018 wrapped up successfully last night. With 13 entrepreneurs coming together with several innovative ideas, Refugees Forward saw a fierce fight until the finish to grab the three coveted spots for the 2019 Incubators to be held in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

For the first time, we had live public voting among those present in the venue to select one of the three winners. The jury had the tough task of choosing the next two winners of the day, and they delivered on the mandate.

Presenting the top three ideas and entrepreneurs who stole the show, the purse, and the first three places in the incubator programs for 2019.


Mustafa & Ugur – Tear Drop


The first of the two jury votes went in favour of Mustafa, 33, a business strategist, and Ugur, 40, a chemical engineer. The duo comes from Turkey and have been living in Rotterdam for the last eight months and two years respectively. Their proposition of creating a company called ‘Tear Drop’ that makes new-age and better fire extinguishers convinced the attending audiences of their worth.

With a place secured in the Rotterdam Incubator in 2019, the pair will focus on market research and strengthening their model in the meantime. During the weekend, they were aided by Larissa, Teodora, and Siddharth, all business students from the Rotterdam School of Management. They received mentorship from Ingrid Sloots. In their spare time, Mustafa indulges in writing poetry and Ugur goes for long-distance runs.


Reshad & Manshor – Unido


The public overwhelmingly voted for Reshad and Manshor who want to create a hearing aid device for sportspeople who play team sports under their company ‘Unido’. Inspired by a young family member whose passion for football was challenged by hearing impairment, Manshor teamed up with Reshad after having been introduced by their wives who were friends in Kabul. Now that the duo has found a place in the incubator in Rotterdam, the next few months will be dedicated to streamlining the technology to strengthen the winning business plan.

Their team was comprised of Andrei and Jaap, business students from Radboud and Erasmus University respectively. The team was coached by Ally van der Boon during the process, who was instrumental in giving their proposal the greater depth that attracted the jury’s attention. Reshad lives with his family in Rotterdam and spends his free time learning graphic designing while Manshor, an aviation geek, lives in the Hague and plays football in his spare time.


Ali – Ishtar


The final pitch that secured the jury’s vote belonged to Ali, who hails from Syria. This 35-year-old former advertising professional brought forward the idea of creating an e-commerce portal called ‘Ishtar’ that would bring original Mesopotamian beauty products to Europe.

In the next few weeks, Ali will conduct further research into his idea before his participation in the Amsterdam Incubator in 2019. To strengthen this idea, Ali received support from Trang, an entrepreneur herself, and was coached by Wilbert Bekendam and Chokri Mousaoui, who were impressed by his dedication and keen eye for detail. Ali lives in Amsterdam and makes animation films in his spare time.


Congratulations to all the participant and winners!