Smart Pei wins first Seedstars in Samoa

Lupe Solofa's Smart Pei is the winner of the first Seedstars Apia event.

Smart Pei aims to make the payment of online transactions easier for Samoans and Pacific islanders.

"We all know the issue of credit card and payment here in the pacific as well as here in Samoa that it is nonexistent and it’s very difficult," Ms. Solofa said. "Smart Pei hopes to resolve that and give people the chance to purchase online and also to sell online."

Ms. Solofa says her product came from an idea derived from an observation while she was working in one of the Government ministries and says her partner, Rapi Vaai, is her biggest motivator.

"It’s a privilege, and I hope smart pei opens doors for our people."

Seedstars World is the largest seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes.

They had a two-day bootcamp where they hosted a mentoring session with 10 local startups.

"This is the second time I have pitched this idea," said Ms. Solofa. "I first pitched this at Youth:Col lab last year in June and now I’ve been given the opportunity to pitch in front of some very amazing people.

"I’m really humbled. I wasn’t expecting to win, there were so many good products here today but to be selected amongst everyone that was here is really humbling. 

"I look forward to Cambodia and also look forward to Switzerland next year and also the next phase of smart pei.

The second place went to WE Accounting, Eli and Wyndi Tagi, who pitched a potential application as a solution based technology for accountants around the world to enable advisory work.

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Salote Va'ai with an app targeting women in the rural area called 'Health in her hands' came third.

The six entrepreneurs pitched in front of a panel including Joseph de Leon (Gravitas Prime), Janka Geckova (Australian Government innovationXchange), and Rosie Keller (Seedstars). 

Rosie Keller, Seedstars Regional Manager (Asia-Pacific) said she is excited to be working more closely with Ms. Solofa in the next few months.

"I think it’s really great, interesting idea that’s going to work well not only in the Pacific, regionally and across the markets," she said.

"The fact that she is super super coachable and the last three days of working with her and mentoring with her she’s really made great progress and taken a lot of feedback, thought about it very critically and implemented a lot of the things that we discussed."

"Because at this next event she’ll be meeting a lot of investors and mentors and if she continues that same mindset, she'll get a lot out of the events, so it’s at least the beginning of working with her until April 2020; she’s a great person with a great idea and a great representative for Samoa, so super excited."

Keller also said she enjoyed the fact that most of the pitches on the night had women founders.

As a part of the prize, Smart Pei will be participating in the Seedstars Summit, taking place in Switzerland next year involving a week-long training programme. 

This comes with an opportunity to meet the 65+ winners from other fast-growing economies, as well as investors and mentors from around the world. They will also be pitching on the final day in front of 1000 people and the chance to win US$500,000 in equity investment and other prizes.

The other four start ups that pitched on Thursday night includes, AriLei Couture, Events, Marketing & Distribution Company (E.M.D.), OKZ Jungle Development Center and Vaoala Vanilla.

The Seedstars Apia Event was made possible with close collaboration between the Australian Government and GSM Association.

The event attracted interest from 20 local startups who applied for the training.

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