Techstars Startup Weekend Kuching Draws 38 Participants

16 May 2018, KUCHING: Executive College in collaboration with iCube Innovation (iCube) conducted a ‘Techstars Startup Weekend Kuching Youth’ (#TSWKCHYouth) last weekend, which gathered 38 participants.

Startup Weekend is a global programme run by Techstars, and powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. It is a 54-hour event where participants come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch a start-up.

The event here, which ran from May 11 to 13, kicked off with a dinner and networking session where the participants got to know one another.

After the dinner, the event proceeded with an introductory session by Techstars Startup Weekend Globally Certified facilitator Malcolm Wu. He led the participants in activities meant to encourage them to think creatively and be willing to try something new.

Participants were also encouraged to pitch ideas on anything that they thought possible to be further developed into a business idea.

The participants also learned how to pitch an idea – thereafter learning how to attract votes, then voted for their favourite idea and later, formed teams. They learned how to put their skills and talents to work and build a product, a team, and a brand for execution.

Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, the participants created working start-ups.

The participants learned from various industry mentors and received valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs. Some of the mentors involved in guiding the participants were X3NIA Sdn Bhd managing director Billy Yue, FoodHero founder Fong Pin Hoong, Shine Pharmacy founder Charles Liew, BNDM Incorporated Holdings project manager Nigel Wee, City Services Contractor founder Petrerus Mering, Conqueror’s Vision Creative Agency project manager Clara Liew, Yogu Frachise owner Fung Yee How, Macao Imperial Tea director Bryan Ma, and lecturers from Executive College.

On the final day, each team had five minutes for presentation time. The panel of judges had three minutes of questions and feedback before the event proceeded to the next presentation. The presenters used various visual aid and props to present an interactive presentation.

The judges were Executive College chief executive officer Sheila Sie, FAME International College chief executive officer David Chew, and Dr John Hii from Apple Accredited Professional Development Consultant and Microsoft Influencer.

Out of the seven entries for #TSWKCHYouth, ‘Personal Maid – Rena’ emerged the winner. This application idea was meant to provide cleaning services for houses and offices, as well as job opportunities for those looking for extra incomes.

The first runner-up was Rethink Travel – an application meant to offer travellers a more in-depth experience as opposed to the ‘normal tourist’s stuff’. At third place was GaiGaiBar – an application targeted at budget travellers, which enables planning through a filtering system based on budget, activities, areas and popularity.

The participating teams had gained valuable experience and knowledge in entrepreneurship.

They would be provided with continued mentorship through iCube’s ecosystem and network, consisting of leaders and professionals across all industries who could give the teams the best chance of success.

Meanwhile in her remarks, Sie said she believed in the importance of equipping youths with innovation capabilities and communication skills to prepare them for the workforce.

“Executive College is also the only private institution in Sarawak to give away iPad (tablets) as a learning tool for students by integrating technology into the curriculum, making lessons more interactive.”

Yue commented: “What if I create my own company when I finish my studies? This is a great way to get a feel on the first step in building a start-up, minus the consequences. In a few days they have to change their way of thinking – from being a student to a chief executive officer, and I think they will become more mature after this experience.”

Chew said: “It is a good programme for the youths to experience business start-up in reality. Ideas can be verified with peers, market, and other experienced personals; in other words, the mentors and judges.

“It’s definitely a good programme not only for the youths but also for upcoming entrepreneurs, to review in-depth of the business model. Even if you have no intention to be entrepreneurs, this is an opportunity for one to experience the journey of entrepreneurs, which makes one more enterprising.”

One of the participants, Executive College’s final-year business degree student Kong Link, said the programme was a good platform to ‘unleash talents’ and guide participants to actualise dream to a certain level.

“I am appreciative towards all the guidance provided by the mentors. I learned a lot from them. They helped us to see a lot of possible things to come for our start-up ideas, which we never thought of. For example, the possible challenges to tackle and the obstacles to overcome.”

Second-year business degree student William Loh said the programme was a progressive and challenging one.

“We’re constantly thinking how to improve our business ideas and make them practically feasible in the real world. Expertise and validations given from the seasoned mentors had enlightened us as much.”

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