Inseaders 1st Demo Day — it’s all coming back to me now, Singy
The first Inseaders demo day just happened. After months of preparation or in my case — weeks of preparation, because I have just joined the team — students, investors and professors met presentially or online to watch the pitches of 8 selected Insead alumni startups.
The diversity — a strong characteristic of Insead — was also reflected in the products of the startups: one focused on artificial intelligence aided driving classes, another in doctor supervised clinical treatment to manage risk factors associated with heart disease and another on enabling cross-border ecommerce for merchants (you can read its story here), among others. Different nationalities, different locations and now different products, all that I, as an alumn, grew up used to when thinking about Insead.
After a “meet and great” event that took place at Block 71, at the heart of the Singapore ecosystem and the physical space of Inseaders for now (because with such a diverse community the world is its “home”), the main event happened at Amphi at the Insead Asia Campus, or Singy how we used to call it (vs. Fonty — how we call the Fontainebleau campus). You can get a glimpse of this pre-event watching the live facebook video at the Inseaders fb page.
Leza Parker from SC Beauty Network Pte, Akkash Agarwal from Crypto Trader, Fabian Ouwehand from TNB Ventures, and Amzul Haque from FirstCounsel were part of the panel - and judging from the post-event emails really enjoyed doing it.
The 5:30 AM system check, the pitches (and the glitches)
I was not in Singapore so I was able to assist only to the main event, via Webex, the online conference app, that also remote investors used to listen to the pitches. I had to check-in a bit earlier (5:30 AM in my UTC+1 timezone, in Portugal) to make the test to make sure everything was working fine and was glad that people couldn’t see my pajama trousers 😆.
For around the 4 hours it lasted, there was a concentration of very powerful kind of energy:
Imagine what can happen when students, professors and investors come together to envision and support business ideas.
I have attended other demo days, but not with such a diverse crowd, offering such a wide range of skills and resources. After each presentation there was time for Q&A from investors present in the room, or watching online and asking questions via the chat in the conference app.
Of course any “first time” at anything would not be the first time if there weren’t some glitches. We were rushing to check if each entrepreneur was ready and online to present (only 3 of the 9 presented in person), which led to a somewhat frantic exchange of messages. One of the entrepreneurs was not ready to share his video live (only the presentation) and two of the startups asked to change to the demo day at another time, due to other commitments (but don’t worry, you will hear about them next Saturday).
I wish I had an interactive world map where I could see the different origin locations of people involved in the Demo Day converging to the same dot on the Singapore map.
All coming back to me now — the Singy detour
Just as the day before, when testing in advance to make sure it was working properly and trying to identify in which room the web conf was tacking place — I felt some memories arising. I spent the two first periods of the MBA in Singapore, so after the presentations ended I was seriously considering having a lunch break (in my timezone the presentations ended by lunchtime) at Fusionopolis, the building next door to campus, where I used to have “menu 6” — steaks with fries, at the same food stall — with ouststanding regularity.
Now, as I write, I am thinking about “the dash”, the Singapore campus tradition in which students have to run from their homes to campus in disguises — in one photo there is me disguised of “Wonder Woman” with a colleague disguised as “Cleopatra” showing a course pack on Competitive Interactions (which I think it could be somewhat distractive to post here but am available to show upon request 😅) and browsing the pages of Lee Kwan Yew’s “From Third World to First — The Singapore Story: 1965–2000) that I read to get a glimpse of the Singapore culture and history before heading there.
Those were interesting times…
The wished for community
Fast forward some years, many students are now interested in pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations and many times lack the support of a community in which they can share and further develop their ideas. On the other hand, many times there are pockets of entrepreneurial local groups and associations that miss out on the lessons learned by groups in other locations. It seems there is a group of people craving for help, and some several groups in dispersed locations that can provide that assistance, but a lack of “glue” to connect both populations.
After Insead I went to Brazil, to work at a startup, but don’t remember having much people from my class that came to mind when wanting to discuss this opportunity.
In the future students and other interested parties will hopefully have more people to bounce back ideas with, when they are interested not only in building startups but considering joining startups.
At the Inseaders platform, among other things, there is an opportunity board where some opportunities associated with the startups from the community are also starting to be posted.
So the main goal is to be the “glue” among communities, connecting startups with investors and advisers so that better ideas are developed.
Just shortly after I announced on Linkedin the Inseaders Demo Day, I received a notification from an Insead 11 D alumn, saying she was heading to the Bay Area, to meet with some people regarding her startup, and asking if there was someone from the Inseaders community she could meet with.
After enquiring my colleagues, and looking on the platform for the registered advisors, we made the intro, and the connection was made.
At the same time I have also became aware — at times it was not so evident- of the achievements that some of the alumni in this space, that can serve as inspiration or — for perhaps more than that — support, for the alumni just starting out:
Chapter 2 — the “second” Demo Day
Hopefully there will be many more connections and introductions to be made as we go forward. To accomodate the startups that were not able to present on the 1st Demo Day there will be a 2nd Demo Day on the 9th of September with another 15 companies presenting. This time it will be open to all Insead students and alumni, so for the community interested in entrepreneurship this would be once again an opportunity to become aware of the ideas that are being pursued by your fellow students, and even lend them a hand if you think you can.
I will be posting about our efforts to develop Inseaders, from the perspective of an alumni / someone that was part of a fast paced sartup / launched her own project / is a team member of Inseaders, but most of all as someone interested in ideas and how they can be successifuly delivered to the market when leveraging the right community, so feel free to get in touch. 🙋
Let’s get this fire started!
Andreia is working in product and content management | building the community at Inseaders. Please feel free to get in touch at email@example.com