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Elevating Impact: Impact Startup Challenge 2023 Unleashes Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Impact Startup Challenge (ISC) is an intensive one-week entrepreneurship boot camp co-organised by the Student SUcceSS Centre and regional partners across different cities. ISC offers students an immersive experience in the Lean Startup methodology, allowing them to embody the role of an entrepreneur where they will work in teams to validate, refine, and develop their business ideas. 

In July 2023, ISC was held in three cities: Tainan, Kuala Lumpur and Medan, in partnership with National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), and Wilmar Bisnis Indonesia (WBI). 


Icebreaker session held at UKM, where SUSS and UKM students met in person for the first time.

To ignite the ideation phase, students in the Tainan track visited Changsheng Village where they engaged in insightful interviews with the village's senior residents, drawing from their wisdom to formulate key problem statements that would become the foundation of their innovative ideas. 


SUSS and NCKU students with seniors from Changsheng Village.

During their visit to the village, students immersed themselves in the local culture. They mingled with the seniors, sharing moments of connection while participating in workout sessions and witnessing performances. These immersive experiences not only provided valuable insights but also fostered a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities present in the community.

SUSS and NCKU students engaging in drumming sessions led by the elderly residents of Changsheng Village.

Students also went on on-site visits to various startup companies, incubators, and accelerators designed to immerse them in the local startup ecosystem. Through interactions with startup founders, students gained insights into their entrepreneurial journeys, identified potential market niches, and grasped the intricacies of the startup community.  

In Kuala Lumpur, students had the privilege of hearing from Giva Kuppusamy, the founder and CEO of GK AQUA SDN BHD, a pioneering freshwater aquaculture biotechnology company established to commercialise and implement its cutting-edge technology to enhance the efficiency of freshwater prawn farming. Kuppusamy shared his wisdom and equipped students with an understanding of how the ecosystem functions while also identifying the available support and resources they may need as they embark on their entrepreneurial ventures within the city. 


SUSS and UKM students with Giva Kuppusamy (4th from left), founder & CEO of GK AQUA SDN BHD.

In Tainan, students visited the Ordinary Woman Village (俗女村), which was the backdrop for scenes in the Taiwanese drama "The Making of an Ordinary Woman (俗女养成记)". This visit provided students with a vivid lesson in the art of rural revitalisation through the story of a local entrepreneur named Chen Chia-Lin. With skill and determination, Chia-Lin transformed the ageing village into a thriving tourist destination where seniors are encouraged to start their own microbusinesses.  

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SUSS and NCKU students at the Ordinary Woman Village (俗女村).

Students learned about the impact of empowering the elderly within villages to leverage their traditional expertise in modern commercial contexts. The concept of gerontology comes to life here, showcasing how the older generation possesses inherent knowledge and vitality to remain actively valuable.

In Medan, students had the opportunity to visit Nutrifood, a company that manufactures and markets international-quality health foods and beverages under leading brands. Students learned about the intricate process of producing top-tier health foods and beverages, along with the significance of marketing as Nutrifood shared how they strategically expanded through e-commerce channels. This emphasis on marketing proved particularly crucial due to the ever-evolving digital landscape and the pivotal role it plays in driving modern business growth. 

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SUSS and WBI students savouring the latest additions to Nutrifood's newly crafted corn-based beverage.

In bridging theory with real-world execution, a team with a waste management focus harnessed their knowledge of the lean startup methodology by immersing themselves in the vibrant environment of one of Medan's largest markets. Their objective was to tangibly validate their business idea by engaging directly with market vendors. As part of their strategic approach, they distributed 10,000 rupiah, effectively putting their plan into motion and prompting vendors to participate in waste collection efforts. This hands-on initiative exemplified how they connect ideas with real-life actions.

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Students interacting with locals in the market.

At the end of the intensive boot camp, students will pitch their business proposals to a panel of judges comprising of investors and startup founders. The top three ideas will then be crowned the winners of the Impact Startup Challenge.  

These winning ideas included "Walkathon" from Tainan, which introduces a smart walking aid with a distance sensor and recording for early-stage dementia patients; "MYCycle" from Kuala Lumpur, presenting a doorstep recycling subscription programme; and "VertiGreen" from Medan, aiming to convert underutilised spaces into on-demand speciality crop farms catering to Medan's Chinese restaurants. 


Students with judges (first row, from left) Shahrizan Abd Latif, Jake Thui, Dr Kalaivani A/P Chellappan, Azizah Amirah Touhid Ahmad and Mohamed Ameer Bukhari Mohamad Nor, together with SUSS Malaysia Country Manager, Mohamed Harfiz.

Joshua Lim, a Business Analytics undergraduate, mentioned: “Participating in this challenge was a transformative experience that exposed us to a diverse range of skills and perspectives. The Impact Startup Challenge has left an indelible mark on our lives and inspired us to pursue our entrepreneurial dreams with even greater determination. As we move forward, we are eager to apply the knowledge and insights gained from this experience to create a positive impact in the world.” 

For those intrigued by this opportunity, mark your calendars for the upcoming ISC Info Session scheduled on 7 September 2023! Find out more about the cities we are visiting next semester, delve into the programme schedule, and have all your inquiries addressed! Be sure to secure your spot by signing up here and unlocking a gateway to a world of innovation and transformation. 

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