From Techstars Alumni to Startup Weekend Global Mentor

Image 1: Techstars Startup Weekend Brunei SDG Edition

Before joining Techstars, I had no idea what Startup Weekend is. I didn’t know that we can locally support local teams to go global. This year, I had a chance to connect with Afiq Mohammed, one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Brunei and serves as the CEO of EICO. It was in January when Techstars APAC team hosted the virtual coffee event. I met Afiq in the same event, and he is now one of my virtual coffee friends with whom I have weekly discussions. In June, I had a chance to meet with the other two organizers, Jason and Dan at Techstars APAC Summit in Bangkok.

Afiq and the Brunei Team honored me to receive the invitation for Global Mentor. Once I got the invite, I began to plan my schedule to show my support for the Startup Weekend Brunei event in July.

Before Startup Weekend Brunei, special thanks the invitation from Progresif radio show to interview me and Cynthia to talk and share our experiences and how I start from Asia and now have several countries customers.

Image 2: Live interview by Progresif

Participating in Startup Weekend in Brunei was nothing short of an adventure for me. I started from nothing and now I have an experience of over three years that allows me to say that today, I have the capacity to come up with a business model and its effective execution. There was a time when I had no idea about prototypes, websites, apps, and even PowerPoint slides. I learned everything at the Startup Weekend.

Image 3: Techstars Startup Weekend Brunei

Startup weekend is comprised of 54 hours of different events that aim to congregate passionate people to get things done. From learning to networking and bridging gaps between trades, the event strives to expose potential and get actual results. The current edition in Brunei is all about Sustainable Development Goals, these goals focused on coming up with realistic plans to end poverty, environmental protection and to promote peace and prosperity among people.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are built on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace, and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected — solving one issue can automatically solve another issue as well. There can be multiple reasons for this; one of this can be a common root cause.[1]

Image 4: 17 Sustainable Development Goals

We’re honored to have the charming Cynthia global facilitator (based in Bangkok but originally from Hong Kong) here to share and inspire attendees. Currently, she works at UNDP Youth Co:Lab.

Image 5: Global Facilitators, Afiq Mohammed and Cynthia Cheung

This year, we’re happy to invite experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, and speakers including Paul Taylor, CEO of Progresif, Radi EL Fassed, Head of Product and Business Development of Progresif.

Image 6: Paul Taylor, CEO of Progresif
Image 7: The mentors and facilitators

From Day 1, participants will have pitchfire session (1-minute pitch) to show their innovative and interesting idea on stage. After the session everyone can vote for the most innovative idea, later, the 10 most popular ideas are announced. Teams are formed around each winning idea. The next big step is to start working on the winning idea!

Image 8: The team is pitching their idea
Image 9: One of attendees looks for team members
Image 10: Crazy idea discussion

Day 2, we had a pitching workshop by Stuart Lee of Articulation and Business Canvas Model workshop hosted by Cynthia. The workshop was helpful in coaching attendees how to pitch our ideas and how to present the details of our business model. In the afternoon, we have the mentor session, where each team can book the time with mentors and learn to improve and optimize idea pitching and business model. This is the most interesting part in my mind. Why? Because everyone looks very nervous and they try their best to finish all the tasks, the situation is similar to parents watching over their children while they are on stage.

Image 11: The attendees enjoy the other team’s pitch

I would share the insights and tips when I prepared for my pitch and I am going to share my observations within the teams:

1. Objective Data

Everyone is passionate about their business model but relying on objective data to solve real issues is key to convincing others to pick your idea. The best way to get an objective data is to conduct an Online Survey or ask for friends feedback which is easy to get some data or from other articles.

2. Who you charge and how?

It is inappropriate for us to disclose monthly fee charges. Because we have to think about who holds the money initially. For example, when setting up an online education system for youth, most of us may think we can charge the youth but its the parents who usually hold the money and pay for their children’s education. Therefore, we have to rely on a marketing strategy which will be different if your target audience is parents.

3. Action Items

Some of the teams try to build up the platform that means we have to attract suppliers and demander’s to get on board with our business model. So what solutions do we have? Online and Offline marketing? No! It’s too vague. Try to think, we can buy Google AdWords and interview our heavy users for marketing contents, or we can provide a referral incentive for users who invite their friends. The marketing strategy must be able to convince potential customers.

4. It’s a show!

We know that the 3 mins pitch is very short time to describe the idea and product/service. Don’t forget judges and participants are all human, making good experiences/atmospheres are very important to attract people’s attention.

Image 12: From Idea to Details
Image 13: My mentor session with the team

After the mentor time session, I was honored to share my three years’ experience as a startup co-founder from Taiwan to the US. Today we have several nationalities on my team. I talked a lot about different cultures, and the methods I used to change the mindset before and after TechStars. In addition, the health (mental, physical, and social) is always our priority. Design thinking and what is the difference between UX and UI are a part of my session to help the attendees to think of the product from the human-centric prospect.

Image 14: The team Pen of Hope (POH)

The second day of the event came with a very long night because the team had a lot of pending work, which meant that we had less than 24 hours to continue the idea generation.

Day three started with a pitch doctor session. In this session, the mentors heard pitches and shared their feedback with the participants for the final pitch. The time for the final pitch was in the afternoon! I would like to thank all the participants for the awesome job! I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the T4R team (Trash for Recycle) for their business idea of making an annual planner with recycled paper.

Image 15: Team T4R photo with Legislative Council member and Director of Green Brunei Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari

After 54 hours journey, I am deeply touched by the ideas shared by attendees. It was an amazing experience to know that young people are passionate about their projects. The event was well organized and it was a success. I feel VERY touched about what attendees work for and I had to thank them for a well-organized event. However, your life journey is not stopping here, it’s just starting. Keep your momentum and don’t forget the smiles and what got you inspired here!

Within the 3 days, you can appreciate the power of community and the organizers are eager to support the startup ecosystem in Brunei and take steps to help the sector grow. Collectively we are the members of a universal community; #givefirst is always in our minds to improve the community.

Image 16: Startup Weekend Brunei Organizers team interview the attendee

In the end, I would like to thank the Brunei organizers team who gave me an opportunity to participate in this event and for giving me unforgettable memories and a successful trip. You guys are awesome and 100% well-organized. I don’t know how to describe how much I love you guys! I promise I will fly to Brunei to give you all big hugs in the future!

Image 17: The Brunei Organizer Team ❤
Image 18: The Brunei Organizer Team ❤
Image 19: The Brunei Organizer Team ❤
Image 20: The Brunei Organizer Team ❤

Special offer for our global audiences, we took this memorable photo when we talked about fighting with our life! Let’s become Dragon ball! Kamehameha!!

Image 21: Secret sauce of SW Brunei

[1] Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html