GO Ventures and Tunisie Telecom host successful start-up challenge

04 July 2021

HR

by Nikoleta Vartsaneli

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Another proud achievement for GO Ventures!

Passion for innovation and technology led us setting up a sister company, GO Ventures, two years ago to help immerse GO in the start-up scene and invest in many of the great ideas there are out there.

During this time, we have met with start-up founders, listened to their ideas, learned and grew with them and their businesses.  All of this has given us great insight into what makes a start-up work and how best to support it.

Because of our experience, GO Ventures was tasked with supporting Tunisie Telecom in holding the first joint start-up challenge.  There is a burgeoning start-up scene in Tunisia and the ambition was that of identifying a start-up looking to expand into Europe with a telecom related product. For the winner, the prize was a substantial financial reward and the opportunity to validate their product in Malta.

This challenge was met with enthusiasm and a significant number of start-ups applied to be considered. These applications then had to be reviewed and whittled down to five finalists. GO took a leading role in this process, putting forward a team of telecoms experts, consisting of Neil Francalanza, Business Marketing Manager, Alison Mercieca, Senior Manager Marketing and Paul Grech, Senior Manager Strategy and Insights, who reviewed all companies’ ideas and selected five finalists.

The final event took place on the 23rd of April, where each of the finalists had the opportunity to pitch their product to a judging panel made up of Dr Rim Belhassine, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer of Tunisie Telecom, Antonio Ivankovic, GO’s Chief Commercial Officer and Arthur Azzopardi, Chief Officer GO Business. The judges reviewed each pitch, asked further exploratory questions and ranked each of the finalists to come up with a winner.

The winner was Galactech, an entertainment e-Sports start-up based in the UAE and Tunisia aiming to unify gaming experiences and competition on a larger scale. Their mission is to provide the best content through innovative platforms from content providers to telecom operators.

We spoke to the team who helped bring this challenge to life in order to get an idea of how the experience was for them. For Neil Francalanza it was an eye-opener; ‘the issues we are trying to tackle are similar, whether it is in Malta, Tunisia, or wherever’. Alison Mercieca felt proud that, despite having a busy schedule, GO gives her the opportunity to also work on such interesting initiatives. ‘I liked the session and I look forward to being part of similar initiatives in the future.’  she also commented.

On his part, Antonio Ivankovic agreed that being among the judges was a fruitful experience. ‘It was super energizing to see the start-up community thriving despite the circumstances that took over the world the past year. It was really nice to see that the Tunisian start-up scene is so vivid, the pitches were all great, customer focused and relevant to the telco business.’

When asked about what they liked the most about participating in this project, Neil highlighted the different ways the participants have tried to harness technology to bring newer, better experiences to their audiences. Alison was impressed at how hard people work to pursue their dream and create innovation that brings about changes we all need. Antonio shared with us a feeling of optimism; that despite what’s going on, businesses always adapt and find ways to delight customers and disrupt other bigger players. He also said that these events are proof that we are starting to grow our economies again.

We wanted to understand better the criteria they used to choose the finalists. Alison said that all ideas were good, and she tried to keep in mind an alignment with GO’s Purpose and discover which ideas were more diverse and innovative. Neil had three criteria, being innovation, viability and simplicity. As a judge, Antonio said that there were various elements that were considered by the jury in choosing the winner, being a great balance in the relevance to the telco industry, creating new added value, being innovative and offering novelty to the market, having a good go to market plan and finally, the overall pitch.

When thinking of the winner, Antonio said that Galactech had a clear way of fulfilling unmet customer needs and they explained well how their unique product fits in the telco ecosystem. He also shared with us that these initiatives expose him to new ideas and products and give him a chance to approach problems from a different aspect.

We couldn’t help but ask how an initiative like this benefited our People’s growth. Everyone agreed that being involved in different projects broadens their horizons, and Neil emphasised the benefits of networking with companies across the GO group. Alison feels that the event helped her keep an open mind and gave her the motivation to also consider and push her innovative ideas more. Antonio believes that initiatives like this give us a chance to connect with smaller, innovative businesses from which we learn and understand emerging businesses, making us more relevant to our daily users.

Dr Rim Belhassine, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer of Tunisie Telecom also shared her views on this experience. ‘It was an honour to be a member of the challenge’s pitch day jury. It served as an opportunity to discover young Tunisian entrepreneurs and see their innovative solutions.

Indeed, the challenge was fruitful, and I am glad about the interesting progress of our collaboration with GO. We are eager to carry on this collaboration through other challenges related to innovative ICT topics, and to explore new axes of collaboration.’

When asked what she liked the most about the start-up challenge she said that it offers an opportunity to Tunisian start-ups to discover new business opportunities and expand in new markets. ‘I am also proud about the high level of skills and competences of Tunisian start-ups and I wish them all the best for the future.’

For Paul Grech, who was part in the initial judging committee and oversaw the organisation of the challenge from start to finish, it was extremely satisfying to see how the whole event turned out.  ‘This was GO Ventures’ first experience in organising such a challenge and we are pleased in how well it went.’

‘A lot of work went into this and my counterparts from Tunisie Telecom were instrumental.  It was also very important to involve different people from various teams within GO as we saw this exercise as an ideal way for people to grow and develop new skills, something that we believe in very strongly.

However, the most important aspect in such a challenge is the quality of the applications and I have to say that it was incredibly good.  There are brilliant people working on some extremely innovative ideas and we felt fortunate to be in a position to review their work.’

‘We feel that GO Ventures can offer such start-ups a route into the European market and, in turn, help us bring to the market ideas that drive forward our digital agenda.’

‘We are already planning on hosting a similar event for Maltese start-ups.’

Lastly, we would all like to wish the best of luck to all the participants, and as Neil said, they all had a great vision that can be successful with the right balance of hard work and luck. Antonio shared a messaged for the winners, ‘Galactech is a company with vision and determination to bring gaming closer to everyone. Their product is fresh, innovative and life changing for many gamers that cannot access big markets. I am certain that with their vision and eagerness to make their customers happy, we will hear many good things about them in the near future.’

Whilst acknowledging the congratulations Houcem Maiza, Galactech’s Chief Executive Officer, said that ‘the challenge suited Galactech’s business model and our aspiration to work in the telecom industry. The experience was very enriching, seeing other start-ups looking to add value to the telco’s end customer, the innovative business models and the smart selling techniques were very inspiring.

Our goals are ambitious and our objectives are precise, we aim to become one of the main gaming providers in the telecom industry and to be able to provide our services to millions of telco users across the globe.’

GO Ventures is always on the lookout for great ideas and we can’t wait to hear yours. Have a look at our website goventures.com.mt and contact us. Apart from financial support, we offer a mentorship program that supports the start-ups to succeed. Meet the people involved in GO Ventures to better understand their expertise, skills and the level of support we offer. What a better way to fully understand what it is like to work with us, read the testimonials of the start-ups we have already on board.

Let us help your great ideas grow!

About the Author

Nikoleta Vartsaneli is one of GO’s HR Managers and her main focus apart from supporting her team’s HR needs is to find ways to promote the People of GO and all the amazing work they do.

Have a look at our careers page and get in touch with us if you want to take your career to the next step!  For GO products and services, visit our official website or get in touch with our experts online or by visiting any of our GO outlets.