100 participate in first SWSWK event at iCube Innovation
November 15, 2016
KUCHING: Some 100 participants comprising students and working adults, eager to spark their entrepreneurial skills attended the first ever Startup Weekend Sarawak (SWSWK) event at iCube Innovation, ICOM Square here last weekend.
The event, which is part of a global startup movement in over 100 countries, has the ultimate goal of equipping entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs with the fundamental tools of the startup ecosystem, as well as mining for some of the brightest entrepreneurial ideas yet to be seen in Sarawak.
SWSWK, like other Startup Weekends all over the world, is a n intensive 54-hour event, that helps participants in teams to focus on an idea and turn it into reality, guided and mentored by successful entrepreneurs and startup founders.
This state-wide edition is the largest one yet, and was organised by iCube Innovation in partnership with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) Cyberjaya.
The three-day event, which started on Friday and ended on Sunday, was also supported by Lonpac Insurance Bhd, MPI GENERALI, Google Business Group Kuching, OurYouth.my, Sarawak Convention Bureau, Earthlings Coffee Workshop, ERA fm, MY fm, and HITZ fm.
Working in teams, the participants brainstormed and developed their ideas, tested the business model, carried out market validations and tweaking it even further until the final day.
On Sunday, the teams presented their final prototype in front of a panel of expert judges, including Layar assemblyman Gerald Rentap Jabu, APAC director (Startup Programs – Techstars Oko Davaasuren and League of Extraordinary Developer (LEAD) founder Dr Lau Cher Han.
Rentap, in his brief remarks, said he was very pleased with the presentations, and especially congratulated ICube Innovation and the organising team for the successful event.
“It has a great networking environment, participants can be creative and inspired, and the programme instills the competitive spirit within these participants. This is truly a great platform for startups in Sarawak,” he added. Oko, on the other hand, believed that the participants are on the right journey. He advised the participants to “keep going, there is an amazing amount of resources in Sarawak to aid you.”
Throughout the weekend and their activities, the participants also got a chance to be personally mentored by over 30 experienced mentors and leaders of industry, including Datuk Patrick Liew (iCube Innovation), Jacqueline Fong (Tanoti), Joanna Ling (PE Land), Kenny Sia (Level Up Fitness), Rewi Bugo (Sego Holdings), Tina Lau (IDC) and David Chew (FAME International College).
On top of that, several Sarawak-based entrepreneurial heavyweights shared their amazing journeys with the participants at SWSWK, including founder and CEO of SHiNE Pharmacy Charles Liew, Beast of Borneo founder Alex Jefferson and Left & Right Artisan Handicraft founder Eileen Phoan.
Out of the 14 teams that participated in SWSWK, the team ‘Juh!’ was adjudged having the best business pitch by the judges. The team’s product focused on maximising the value for users in the areas of banking and accounting, social enterprise and travel.
The first runners up were NARASI.CO, an e-commerce website for student entrepreneurs, followed by FeedMi, an open market food selling and delivery platform.
Priscilla Lawrence, one of the participants and a Masters student at UiTM Shah Alam, felt she really gained a lot from taking part in SWSWK. “The most valuable thing I learnt was that you have to first believe in the value of your products and services, before others can believe in them too.”
Irdina Hani Rasli and Muhd Ikmal Rasli, siblings who at 14 and 16 years of age are amongst the youngest participants, believed that SWSWK had opened up their eyes to the possibilities out there.
Despite still being in school, the siblings run an online business called Planet Button. “Talking to the mentors, they inspired us with amazing ideas, that helped our group, and even our own business, and they motivated us to take a step further in business,” said Muhd Ikmal.
Rouffino Jolis, Engineering student at UCTS agreed that there was much value gleaned from interacting with the mentors. “Their comments allowed us to look at our idea from different perspectives,” he added.
Valerie Leong, a lecturer at Executive College who joined her student cohort at SWSWK, equally appreciated the input from mentors, adding, “I wouldn’t say they grilled us, but I really enjoyed their input that helped us in the right direction!”
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