Validating pitches with startup pioneers

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After mind body exercises in Hyde Park early in the morning, CAMP delegates experienced their first speaker dialogue session: “The Importance of Testing and Validation”. This presentation included industry experts Rebekah Campbell, founder and CEO of Posse, a social search engine tailored towards individuals’ own interests, Jack Zhang, founder of China’s foremost tech community, GeekPark, and Andrew Yu, founder of 1KG More, which aims to improve childhood education in China’s rural areas. Debby Ng listened in on the discussion.

In this session, delegates were encouraged to target the right audience. As the idea generation, delegates are expected to think of ideas and revamp them, identify the problem they are trying to solve, and break it down into something more solvable. They were taught to ‘dream big but speak small’ – convince people that there is a focus area they want to invest their energy in. In presenting a small opportunity or idea that could dominate the market, their company would grow bigger with development. 

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Rebekah Campbell of Posse 

Rebekah Campbell is an entrepreneur from New Zealand. She developed Posse (posse.com and Posse App) to allow users to create their own ‘street’ containing their favourite restaurants, bars, hotels, spas and shops.  In doing so, she aimed to make city life seem more human to individuals. She develops strategy by talking to users and friends of friends and conducting small focus groups of 2-3 people to determine potential users. In creating Posse, she branded her niche by thinking of five different personas and determining what they’d use Posse for. To raise capital, Rebekah ensured that her market was big enough. She repitched her idea for Posse 1000 times in 18 months. She recommends introducing yourself to different people to get investors and gain traction and momentum. If somebody has profile, more investors will follow.

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Jack Zhang of GeekPark

Jack Zhang of GeekPark (geekpark.com) was the first person to introduce the idea of ‘geek culture’ into China five years ago. GeekPark conveys geeks as cool and innovative, detaching from the conventional initial idea of ‘geek’ as shy and retiring Chinese. Jack believes that geeks have the power to transfer ideas into reality. His website helps groups communicate with each other, linking startups with tech giants and potential business partners. Jack first felt this big wave of innovation due to the rise of mobile internet. What hasn’t developed, though, is speech culture in China. In the west, platforms like TED provide inspirational speeches educating audiences on global concepts and forward-thinking ideas. GeekPark, which grew from a not-for-profit into a company, helps close the gap in China by serving as a communication platform between producers.

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Andrew Yu demonstrating his snack box

Andrew Yu created 1KG More to encourage travellers to take books with them while travelling and give them to students from poor schools in rural areas. More and more travellers came on board and Andrew launched a website to find rural schools and contact them. Within a few years, thousands of schools emerged in the database. But additional materials were needed to make content more fun and engaging, so Andrew designed a toolbox for teachers to use in class. The snack box includes games to discourage children to eat illegally manufactured candy that is widespread in China’s countryside.

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CAMP delegates look at the snack box

Every week, the children collected their snack wrappers and looked at the ingredients labelled on them. They began to realise that they ate too many of these snacks. Through Andrew’s snack box initiative, the children have changed their behaviours towards unhealthy foods. His ventures weren’t always successful, though. He previously spent two months making a prototype training teachers to use good learning techniques. However, they weren’t interested in implementing what he thought was great ideas, and the neglection required him to innovate further. To ensure the success of his snack box, Andrew always consults with the students and teachers and compares results on a weekly basis.

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Some contents of Andrew Yu's box

Photos and story: Debby Ng