Singapore, June 2, 2020 – A student startup that designed a mobile app which reads all types of barcodes and QR codes, and then automatically sends customised promotion alerts to customers won the Alibaba Cloud-Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Online Demo Day recently.
The Demo Day was the first time SUSS aspiring student entrepreneurs went online to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists (VC) and Angel Investors, in front of a “live” audience of about 500 attendees. Five startups from the Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Entrepreneurship Programme participated in the event on May 27, 2020.
“It was interesting to be able to pitch to VCs and hundreds of online viewers at the same time. The event was extremely well organised, beyond my expectations. It was truly a bonus to be selected as the winner of the pitch competition and I wish all fellow start-ups to keep hustling,” said Mr Vijay Dylan Kumar, 37, ConnectUpz founder. He received USD$5,000 Alibaba Cloud credits and a goodie bag.
The app created by ConnectUpz also allows consumers to store their loyalty cards and make e-payments for purchases. It emerged champion because of its originality, market opportunity, and entrepreneurial factors.
The second place went to Learngram, which aim to make education accessible to every student in a cost effective way, using AI. Learngram has raised a pre-seed round of USD$250,000.
“The Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Entrepreneurship programme, co-ordinated by a very pro-active team, has been a great support in my journey. I’ve been given access to experienced mentors, cloud credits support and a chance to take part in the Demo Day. I am humbled to come in second place and am appreciative of the support SUSS has given me in my venture. I look forward to staying in touch with the SUSS team in the future,” said Mr Raman Kishore, 28, the co-founder of Learngram. He received USD$2,000 Alibaba Cloud credits and a goodie bag.
Swapie, a digital marketplace for credit card rewards optimisation that connects small and medium-sized enterprises with consumers, was the second runner up.
“I am deeply honoured to be recognised as one of the top three start-ups in this programme, as it is a testament of the judges' and university's trust in Swapie's business model and product. As a start-up, we have always maintained our strong belief in solving real problems and letting our passion shine through while doing so. I am grateful that Alibaba Cloud, SUSS, and the mentors have supported us and provided the best-in-class guidance in this process. This is just the beginning and there'll be much more to come!” said Mr Koh Kang Liang, 27, the founder of Swapie.
He received USD$1,000 Alibaba Cloud credits and a goodie bag. During this COVID-19 period, Swapie will waive all service fees for transactions completed via their startup.
The event also featured other start-ups namely:
- Nino News: A technological platform, Nino News curates and summarises trending news articles from credible sources for preschool children. Nino News is co-founded by 23-year-old Ms Jenine Koh Jia Hui, a SUSS full-time student from our Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and a recent recipient of the Startup SG Founder Grant by Enterprise Singapore. Nino News’ vision is to become a Netflix & Masterclass of real-life educational content for children ages three to 12 years old.
With the Circuit Breaker, there is a greater emphasis on home-based learning. Nino News hopes to do its part for the community, by providing free bite-sized news content to engage young children, and at the same time alleviate some of the parents’ stress.
Ms Koh said, “What I like most about being in the Alibaba Cloud-SUSS programme is the liberty and space to pursue various directions without feeling limited or restricted. This programme has also provided sufficient avenues and support to further my ambitions. I have had the chance to meet mentors and lecturers in related fields, and they were very helpful in guiding me along the way.”
- Gift Inc.: A one-stop marketplace for corporate gifting needs. Gift Inc. co-founders are 36-year-old Ms Christine Ng Seok Koon, a SUSS part-time business student and 38-year-old Mr Chia Choon Leng, a student from our Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Entrepreneurship Programme.
Ms Ng said, “The world is evolving at immense speed and COVID-19 has shown us that agility is key to survival. The journey has been fulfilling as we participated in the entry pitch, attended the courses by Alibaba and SUSS to better equip ourselves. We are grateful to have a panel of established mentors who are willing to share their wealth of experience with us.”
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of SUSS, said: “SUSS is proud to present another batch of entrepreneurs from our Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Entrepreneurship Programme. We believe in having multiple learning pathways at SUSS and this programme depicts one of the University’s many offerings for our students. Since it started in 2017, this Programme has help to create about 35 student startups, out of which 14 secured funding of more than $8 million. We look forward to helping more aspiring entrepreneurs – winning VC funding is the ultimate prize but going through the process is the transformation that we hope will take place.”
Mr Jeffrey Seah, Partner of Quest Ventures, and one of Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Demo Day 2020’s panel of judges, said, “Successful enterprises are born in times of scarcity. This is a good time for startups as the legacy advantage enjoyed by incumbents has been greatly eroded. Victory will belong to those who dare, and move with speed and purpose.”
Another judge, Ms Huang Shao-Ning, Chief Angel and Partner of AngelCentral, said, "It is always heartening to see entrepreneurs come forward to share their ideas at the Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Demo Day. At AngelCentral, we have a platform where startups can apply for fundraising and we look forward to having more entrepreneurs kick-start their journey with us."
Successful pitches saw students receive funding for their businesses and a 40-credit unit Minor in Entrepreneurship from SUSS. Non-SUSS participants will graduate with a certificate and have their credit units recognised should they enrol in an SUSS degree programme subsequently. SUSS is the only Institute of Higher Learning in Singapore that awards students with academic credits for securing investors’ funding or achieve SGD$250,000 annual revenue for their start-ups.
The Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Entrepreneurship Programme is accredited by SUSS and run in partnership with Alibaba’s cloud computing arm, Alibaba Cloud. With access to industry leaders and mentors, the programme draws and supports aspiring student entrepreneurs to take their business to the next stage of growth. For more information on Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Certificate/Minor in Entrepreneurship: https://www.suss.edu.sg/courses/detail/gsp401
The Alibaba Cloud-SUSS Demo Day 2020 start-ups’ pitches can be accessed here.
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About the Singapore University of Social Sciences
SUSS is a university with a rich heritage in providing lifelong, learner-centric and industry-relevant education. Our mission is to champion lifelong education to develop future thinkers and leaders to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness of the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning.
We offer more than 70 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes which are flexible, modular and multi-faceted in learning experience to cater to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. We also launched a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills and knowledge upgrading of our workforce.
Our programmes and courses are made available through our five schools:
- S R Nathan School of Human Development
- School of Business
- School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
- School of Law
- School of Science and Technology
To date, over 30,000 graduates have chosen SUSS as their university of choice. Each year, about 15,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.
From 1 April 2019, the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) became an autonomous institute of SUSS. Both entities enable a synergistic collaboration as IAL brings to SUSS its expertise and experience in adult learning and Continuing Education and Training (CET), while SUSS provides an ecosystem of resources and experts rooted in academic rigour.
For more information on SUSS, please visit www.suss.edu.sg.