21st – 24th of October 2011
Our group from E-Community Project (Kindergames) had been selected to participate in a competition called Digi Challenge in UMS KK. We were only notified 2 days before the competition started and were actually reluctant to participate at first because it was all too sudden and we had so much assignment, mid term, quizes, and projects to catch up with. However all of us, (Kelvin, Woon Chee, Kin Meng, and Chong How) decided to participate to gain experience and it was indeed one hell of a great experience! 🙂
With very little sleep, all of us took the ferry ride to Kota Kinabalu. We all had very little sleep cause we all had to finish up our assignments before we leave. I seriously could not sleep at all due to the strong petrol smell in the ferry. We all left on Friday morning, and on Friday afternoon itself, we went to UMS KK to join the competition. We were all extremely tired.
We were all soaking wet at the first day but we all had fun. Especially the part where we walked bare foot at the university before entering the hall, as it rained heavily and there were pools of water everywhere. We got to know Taira from UMS KK.
And so everything started with speeches from Glenn and Sumitra from Digi, Jason Armishaw from Startup Weekend, Emily, and many more. “Do you know what is social venture?” 🙂 Well, it’s basically like a business idea that could help underserved community. Work started immediately that particular afternoon. Our group sticked to our E-Community idea, as it was the reason why we were chosen to participate in this competition and also we have a very supportive supervisor, Dr Zamhar Ismail that gave us support to join this competition. However we tweaked our idea, as we have to generate revenue in our project and we had chosen orphans as the target underserved community, and hence, voila! Orphagames.
We were given whole day to ourselves to make the idea as solid, and as strong as possible to convince the judges at the end of the day. We brain stormed almost 12 hours a day, and I personally relied on few cups of coffee to stay awake in a day. I was so tired due to lack of sleep, and my brain could not function, and at the same time I had to think hard and stay awake in the hall.
Digi Challenge actually pushed all of us beyond our own limits. We all did our very best in the entire 3 days. One thing I really learned from this Startup Weekend is that I learned to stay calm under pressure and work in a team. The weight is so much lighter when you have great members supporting you and also to share your stress and help you out. We did our market validation by calling a few orphanages, and also came out with a mock up website to support our idea. Mr Yuszren also helped us by providing confimation letter for us.
The weekend ended about 9.30 pm every night. After we all got back to Kingfisher, where we all were staying, we all walked out to have some mamak food. I was the only one hesitated to eat every night, because I was so sleepy, that I could only think of sleeping. 🙂 I had biscuits every night, and of course, halfway, Yu Jin stole my biscuits away. I also managed to get to know my other friends better during this competition and they were all crazy and fun.
2 hours before the end of each day, we would have to pitch our idea in 3 minutes to convince the judges with our idea. On the first day, we were given only 1 minute to present, and 3 minutes on the 2nd and final pitching. It was very challenging as I was the speaker for the group. Along the preparation process, we get to seek advise and learn from a lot of mentors that were there to guide us. They were really friendly and helped us a lot. We got to know Zen (Youth Works Asia), Mr Erik Lothe (ZTE Norway), Mdm Hanaa Wong (President of Sabah Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals Association (SWEPA), Frank Chan, Dr Suresh, Mr Ismail from Digi, Mr Johan Amilin, and more. They were great mentors, friendly and gave us great advises along the way.
As the speaker of the group, I explained our idea to the mentors for about 16 times, different people at different time, until one point, I just could not think anymore. I was tired of talking and thinking. 🙂 And when it comes to pitching, I just could not get my head straight to pitch. That’s when I had another cup of coffee running down my throat.
On the final day, sad to say, only 2 out of 24 groups were selected to go for nationals. We did not manage to get through it. However, we spoke to some of the mentors, and we got to know we were actually 1 mark away to 2nd place. We did our best, and most importantly, the feedback from the mentors about our goup were very positive, that they really brighten our day. We learned so much, got to know great people. It was an experience like no other.