Maybe it was the youthful nature, but all 10 companies had some sort of altruistic mission
An entrepreneur pitched a product that helped deaf people with day-to-day communications. One company was educating young people about technology and another was trying to radically alter how cafes approach interior design.
At the inaugural *SCAPE HubQuarters Fellowship Demo Day, young companies spent the evening pitching to a host of judges, mentors and audience members to further validate whether or not their idea can grow into the next sexy startup story.
A major reason why these companies were in their infancy has to do with the mis-sion of *SCAPE, which is a platform designed to empower people in Singapore’s un-der the age of 35. For a lot of participants, *SCAPE became the necessary support group to give them confidence to chase their startup dreams.
The *SCAPE event was the conclusion of a 6-month-long fellowship programme that hosted 21 qualifying teams across 22 sessions to help them get their business off the ground. 10 of them were pitching at the Demo Day.
“This space is really meant for the youth. Last year, we curated 5,000 square feet ofspace to turn it into a co-working space for our young entrepreneurs to incubate. My congratulations again to our 10 teams that [pitched] today,” said Goh Kok Wee, the Executive Director of *SCAPE.
The jury present for the pitches were as follows:
- David Ding, Head of Fintech (Regional), DBS Innovation Group
- Timothy Tay, Assistant Manager,raiSE Singapore
- Brian Liu, Co-Chair, Young ChangeMakers
- Felix Tang, Associate Director, NUS Enterprise
- Yoav Elgrichi, Founder, ImpacTech
- Khor Qianyi, Senior Analyst & Head, Quest Ventures
- Alex Ng, Managing Director, Spaze Ventures
- Lavanya Karthikeyan, Business Development & Legal, PBA Group
- Ori Takemura, Assistant Vice President, Design Director, Singapore Press Holdings
- Low Jian Liang, Co-Founder, Reactor Ventures
For StaffAny, a *SCAPE participant and a winner of the 2019 e27 TOP100 Singapore regional qualifiers, the biggest value-add from the programme was access to mentors and connections.
“They introduced us to good mentors from the F&B industry. Through their experiences, we are able to identify potential pitfalls we might have because they are in the F&B industry. They know their stuff the best; inside-out,” said Eugene Ng, a Co-founder of StaffAny.
StaffAny was approaching the pitching competition as a BD lead generation exercise, hoping that a few of the tenants of the *SCAPE space (a mall-type building in Singapore’s Orchard neighborhood) could become future clients.
For Lena Toh, the Founder of goodgoblins, a recycling company, *SCAPE provided her an opportunity to take an idea that was not yet a company and transform it into a concrete startup.
“I had a normal job and just an idea. It helped me bring the idea to the stage where I have validated and [built a] prototype. We did a month-long pilot so that validated my idea about goodgoblins,” she said.
Toh ended up jumping into the deep end by quitting her job to pursue the company full-time. One takeaway of the event was a sense that the companies all had an altruistic mis-sion. Maybe it is the youthful energy, but the startups were more consistently trying to solve societal problems than other Demo Days. Let’s have a look!
Telelay wants to make the day-to-day communication for deaf people more convenient. The strategy is to integrate video calls and a translator into the phone call process. Think about booking a restaurant, which can be challenging for a person with hear-ing impairments.
In Telelay, the user will use video chat to call an online interpreter, who would then facilitate the call with the recipient. The company wants to charge a small fee per call.
Shift wants to make cafes more flexible and dynamic with customisable furniture. The idea is to use magnetic blocks to allow people to “build what they need” in an open space.
For example, if you want to pop-in for a quick break, then placing two blocks on top of one another to create a standing table. Or for meetings, you can put 4-5 next to each other to create a table. The company wants to bring people in by making it a space for workshops and advocacy groups.
The idea is that the space will be free for these groups and their “fee” will be the price of coffee/food.
goodgoblins is a home recyclables collection service that wants to help Singaporeans build the habit of recycling.
The company allows people to sign-up for a subscription service that pays for people come to their apartments on a regular basis and pick-up the recycling to take to the plants. The company will also generate revenue by selling the waste back to recycling companies.
What is interesting about the service is that it wants to measure trow-away habits and give feedback to users to help motivate them to reduce their consumption. For example, if a person recycles 5kg of waste one week, and then 7kg the next, the app will let them know so that they need to be more mindful about how they buy goods.
This media company wants to help people find motivation by publishing the “journey behind successful people”. It also wants to “empower Asians for Asia”. The company’s main service is as a content creator but it also wants to get into events, live sessions and more complicated production services.
BoomX wants to ‘skill up’ older folks to help them take advantage of their experience and make money either freelancing or starting small businesses. While there are a lot of support networks aimed towards the silver generation, some of the jobs offered to elderly people lack dignity (think of the typical hawker center cleaning auntie/uncle).
BoomX wants to figure out what skills these people have and teach them how to leverage it to make money in a more meaningful avenue. The Founder also runs a company called Boomercise, which is an exercise pro-gramme to help older folks stay healthy.
Omnitree has built an app for collaborative education in the classroom. It wants to be a one-stop-shop for in-classroom lessons. For example, it is building products that facilitate Q&A with the classroom, trivia questions/answers and other collaborative projects.
It wants to stop teachers from having to flip through multiple apps while going through a lesson. The company wants to target teachers and administrators and charge them for a subscription.
Increa tries to understand individual learning needs to provide customisable lessons and help people adapt to how they learn. The company offers workshops, activities like nature walks and even a variety of spaces to be able to adapt to the best learning environment.
It has hired a group of trainers who are experienced educators and know how to engage individual students.
Crop is an independent design studio that tries to stand apart by not following de-sign trends, finding alternative perspectives and being a craft-centric agency. It wants to build a culture whereby the craftsmen are valued as part of the design process.
The company approached the Demo Day as a means to find long-term collaborators.
A company that hopes to inspire the next generation, Innovation Garage is a STEM education service for kids between the ages of 8-12. So far, the team has taught in 5 schools and over 600 students. It charges various prices based on the complexity of a 10-hour course.
The goal is to build a company that can consistently lead these classes across the entirety of Singapore.
Easily the most mature of the companies, StaffAny is an hourly-worker staff management platform. StaffAny is really growing, having enjoyed a 25 per cent month-on-month expansion rate. Actually, when asked by the judges, the startup said navigating this growth is the current top challenge for the startup.
The service is used by 51 companies and has a projected 6x LTV:CAC ratio. A number that allows new clients to essentially pay for their acquisition cost. In the near future, the company sees itself as a solution to unsolvable problems like payday loans, shift-based hiring, performance-based resumes and part-timer insurance.
The inaugural *SCAPE fellowship is in the books! Make sure to keep an eye out for announcements, calls for applications and updates from the next cohort of fellows!
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