This year’s Global Startup Fest by Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Global Innovation Alliance Office (GIA) was organized in partnership with SWITCH Singapore. The full-day, hybrid event was held in person at The Sandbox and was live-streamed on the SWITCH platform to viewers in the technology, venture capital, and startup sector. An annual affair, GIA aims to connect young entrepreneurs to global startup founders and industry players to exchange ideas and access market knowledge.
Mr Lim Kok Kiang, Principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said in his opening address, “The Global Startup Fest is another one of our efforts to connect the world to our students (despite the Covid-19 pandemic).
In his speech, Lim announced the launch of GIA’s Global Entrepreneurial Internship Programme (GEIP) Collectives which offer resources from partners Amazon Web Services, Alibaba Cloud, Stripe, Osome, and Hubspot. He notes, “These global brand names will support our budding entrepreneurs in areas such as product development, e-commerce platforms, marketing, and market access. These are important building blocks which will give our students a leg-up while they are trying hard to build their ventures.”
Alumni and students present at the event heard from distinguished guests such as Lu Gang, founder of TechNode Group, Marcus Tan, co-founder of Carousell, and Peter Vesterbacka, former Mighty Eagle of Angrybird, on global skill sets and talents necessary in the future economy. Representatives from Enterprise Singapore and Stripe spoke to the audience as well on building a strong core team locally and internationally.
The second half of the event saw a total of five alumni teams and four student teams present their pitches to a live panel of judges. The judges included representatives from Saison Capital, TRIVE Venture, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (PACS), and The Sandbox.
These teams have been shortlisted after attending a three-day global hackathon with overseas students, before they embarked on a startup challenge over a few months. They worked together on a new business venture to develop a business plan, conducted customer validation, and built a prototype under the guidance of experienced entrepreneurs and business mentors. The challenge culminated in pitching for funding during this event to the panel of potential investors.
The shortlisted teams’ ventures aimed to tackle a wide range of issues, from e-commerce to corporate social responsibility to group savings for travel. A handful focused their ventures on sustainability.
The teams were judged based on their technical ability to bring their startup to fruition; the strength of their innovation or differentiating factor; the value they bring to the industry, society, or end-user; the clarity of their implementation process; their commercial potential; and how sustainable, feasible, and viable their revenue stream is.
Some niche topics among the groups included pet food, baby clothing, and mental wellness for mothers. Pawfoo, a business selling nutritious and sustainable pet snacks, won the Most Viable Business Award in the Alumni category. The group identified the global problem of food waste as a reason for their business venture, and aims to alleviate the issue by saving byproducts from local food manufacturers such as fish skin and potato to turn them into affordable parfaits and biscuits. Thus far, they have saved 10 kilograms of food and sold more than 100 packs of snacks.
In the Student category, Little Lullaby was awarded with the same title. As more mothers start to document their infant’s growth on social media, the group aims to offer a sustainable solution to the problem of fast fashion; babies outgrow 10 sizes of clothing in the first three years of their lives. Parents may subscribe to tiered plans, where they receive monthly baby clothing deliveries. Once their children have outgrown the clothing, they may return them.
Another notable mention is Gravida, a mental wellness platform for mothers. As the number of women suffering from postnatal depression has increased since the Covid-19 pandemic started, the team designed an application for mothers to track their emotions and seek advice from established medical practitioners. Magdalene Loh, Head of Innovation at PACS, noted the team’s potential in digital health and wellness and indicated an interest to work with them to further develop their product.
The winning teams walked away with a cash prize of $1000 sponsored by Prudential, a bottle of Alibaba’s 20th anniversary wine – Brut Rose, as well as $35,000 in processing without fees from Stripe.