Friday, May 24

Future professionals unearthed, groomed at #TSWKCH

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The #TSWKCH participants, organisers, mentors, facilitators and judges gather for a group photo.

KUCHING: Seventy-three people took part in the recent ‘Techstars Startup Weekend Kuching Uni Edition’ (#TSWKCH) jointly run by Executive College in collaboration with iCube Innovation Sdn Bhd (iCube).

It was a 54-hour event, running from Friday to Sunday, where participants came together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch start-ups.

The #TSWKCH kicked off with dinner and networking, and proceeded with an introduction session by the Techstars Startup Weekend globally-certified facilitator, Malcolm Wu.

He led the participants in activities that pushed them to think creatively and to be willing to try something new, after which they were encouraged to pitch an idea on anything that they thought could be further developed into business idea.

They then learned how to pitch that idea, how to attract votes, and about team formation.

They also learned ways to put their skills and talents to work and build a product, a team, and a brand for execution through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation.

Of the 13 teams in #TSWKCH, DiaLect App wowed the judges with their business pitch and emerged the winner. They introduced an application that could help preserve local Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Foochow, Hakka, and Teochew spoken in Sarawak.

This app would allow the younger generation to hold on to their heritage by learning to converse in their own dialect fluently.

All the participating teams took home a valuable experience and knowledge in entrepreneurship, as well as in teamwork and leadership skills.

They would also be provided with continued mentorship through iCube’s ecosystem and networking, comprising leaders and professionals across all industries set to give the teams the best chance of success.

The weekend concluded with a closing speech by Executive College chief executive officer Sheila Sie, who encouraged the participants to never stop exploring new ideas and to pursue them with the skills that they had acquired from the #TSWKCH.

She said the college, as the main organiser, believed in the importance of equipping youths with innovation capabilities and communication skills in order to prepare them for the current workforce.

Executive College is also the only private institution in Sarawak to give away iPads as a learning tool for its students by integrating technology into the curriculum – making lessons more interactive.

Meanwhile, Place Borneo director Gracie Geikie said she felt most privileged to be a judge at the #TSWKCH, which she viewed as ‘an amazing platform to draw out talents in creative and innovative thinking among the youths’.

“Such programmes and events must be sustained and continued in order for us to groom and develop our young entrepreneurs in excellence and be prepared to succeed globally,” she added.

Another judge, Olivia Ling who is the founder of Poppies, said she was very impressed by the quality of the pitches put together in 54 hours. She pointed out such initiatives as ‘great for students and budding entrepreneurs to get a feel of what it would be like to be part of a start-up business’.

“They work in teams (and) under pressure to develop their business ideas with mentors and facilitators. It’s at events such as these that young entrepreneurs would have the chance to network and meet future mentors, potential business partners, investors and co-founders,” she said.

Rajang Digital Solutions Sdn Bhd chief executive and ‘chief disruptor’ Reuben Wee, who was invited to be a mentor during the #TSWKCH, said the organisers and facilitator did a good job in bringing out the inventor’s mindset out of many young participants.

“I hope to see more of this ‘hackathon’ and ‘bootcamp’ events in Sarawak to realise my dream for ‘local content, global markets’,” he said.