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NUS Students & Alumni Received Top Prizes At Taiwanese Entrepreneurship Competition



Singapore – Two Singapore teams, consisting of students and alumni from the National University of Singapore (NUS) received prizes at the 2014 Global Talentrepreneur innovation & Collaboration (GlobalTiC) Award last week. Novelsys received the top prize for the Youth Pre-Start-up category, having competed against 11 other teams from Asia, Europe and South America. Called the JohnnyTiC Award, this included US$2,000 in prize money. Jayden Ooi, from Collappe was awarded the Best CEO, in recognition of his leadership performance and strategic vision. The GlobalTiC Award was held from 18 to 21 August 2014, in Taiwan.

“Our heartiest congratulations to Novelsys and Collape for representing Singapore and NUS so well at this year’s GlobalTiC Awards. Both teams won the Start- [email protected] 2014 business plan competition earlier this year – Novelsys under the Business Venture category and Collappe under the Infocomm category. This made them eligible for the GlobalTiC Award and NUS Enterprise nominated them to join, so they could compete against winning start-ups from around the world. We provided coaching and mentoring to help the teams in this international arena, in particular with their commercialisation and investment plans. Both teams demonstrated maturity, confidence and vision for their start-ups,” said Dr Lily Chan, CEO NUS Enterprise.

From L to R: Kenneth Lou, CEO and Co-founder of Novelsys, Kelvin Tan from NUS Enterprise and Jayden Ooi CEO and Co-founder Collappe. Photo source: NUS Enterprise

Novelsys ampereTM – Reinventing the mobile charging experience

Novelsys ( was founded in 2014 by three NUS students – Kenneth Lou (NUS Business School), Delane Foo (NUS Division of Industrial Design) and Mark Keong (NUS Department of Electrical Engineering). They have taken a year off their studies to work on the company, to develop ampereTM, the world’s first wireless charging sleeve for mobile phones. Users simply drop their mobile phone into the sleeve and it charges wirelessly on the go, making it more convenient than bulky power-banks that require wires.

In addition to the US$2,000 GlobalTiC prize money, Novelsys has already received $15,000 in prize money from [email protected], $10,000 from the NUS Enterprise Practicum grant and $5,000 under the Philip Yeo Innovation Fellows Programme. Moving forward, they plan to apply for government grants and launch a crowdfunding campaign by the end of 2014. Novelsys targets to begin shipping their product by Q2 2015, focusing on the U.S. and South East Asia markets. Novelsys aim to position themselves as the leading wireless charging solutions provider, creating an eco-system for wireless charging in the future.

“Competing at the GlobalTiC was a fantastic experience. Over the past year, we have honed our pitch and presentation skills – through [email protected], the Practicum grant and most recently with mentorship provided by Kelvin at GlobalTiC. This event had great networking opportunities – we hope to work with one of the judges in the future as a potential manufacturing partner,” said Kenneth Lou, CEO and Co-founder, Novelsys.

Collappe – Reimaginating Mobile Messaging for Collaboration and Productivity
After observing that many NUS students use standard mobile messaging apps for project work, the Collappe ( team decided to create a chat- based mobile app that would boost collaboration. Their solution encompasses the simplicity and convenience of a mobile messaging app, as well as the productivity of today’s desktop solutions. Centred around a mobile chat interface, Collappe provides users with the ability to perform project coordination, task assignment and meeting scheduling. A minimal viable product has been developed and is undergoing closed beta user testing within the university. It has currently been well-received and its full launch on both the iOS and Android Stores is planned for Q1 2015.

Collappe is founded by a group of NUS alumni and students, Jayden Ooi (NUS School of Computing alumni), Joey Wang (NUS Faculty of Science alumni), Ivan Chong (NUS School of Computing alumni), Rax Suen (NUS School of Computing alumni) and Weilson Tan (NUS School of Computing undergraduate). Incubated and supported by the NUS School of Computing, they have been awarded a $10,000 NUS VasCo grant, as well as prize money of $15,000 for being the Infocomm Champion at the recent [email protected] competition.

“We made Collappe for students. However during the GlobalTiC Awards event, we received positive validation from industry professionals as well, who suggested the potential for corporate usage. We may explore this further in the future. The competition has opened up bigger networks for reaching out to overseas students in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India. Winning the Best CEO prize was only possible due to the strong team. We want to adopt a mind-set of looking at things differently, in meeting changing consumer behaviour. In this way, we always stay relevant to our customer needs,” said Jayden Ooi, CEO and Co-founder Collappe.

The GlobalTiC Award ( started in 2007, and is an international competition for talented entrepreneurs who have won national or regional level business competitions. The award has two groups; New Start-up Companies and Youth Pre-Start-ups, with both Novelsys and Collape applying for the latter. Teams must fall within five industries; 1) Social Enterprise, 2) Creativity & Culture, 3) Internet, ICT & Cloud Computing, 4) Green Technology, and 5) Biotechnology & Nanotechology. The GlobalTiC Award aims to foster a stimulating environment for entrepreneurship, by providing incubation, internship, investment and business networking opportunities for its participants.

About National University of Singapore (NUS)

A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 24 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner in Singapore’s fifth RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

About NUS Enterprise

NUS Enterprise was established in 2001 to provide an enterprise dimension to NUS teaching and research involving the University’s students, staff and alumni. It nurtures talents with entrepreneurial and global mind-sets, and promotes the spirit of innovation and enterprise through a wide variety of programmes and activities. These fall under four focus areas: Entrepreneurial Education, Active Industry Partnership, Holistic Entrepreneurship Support and being Asia’s Thought Leader for Innovation & Enterprise.


Lessons Learnt from The Lean Startup



The Lean Startup book authored by Eric Ries has been sitting on my shelf for quite sometime now, so since I am currently contributing to the making of a startup I figured I’ll take a look into it.

The book is divided into 3 parts, after reading the first two I had my mind blown with the pragmatic and scientific approach to building startups that is described in the book.

In this post, I would like to share some important insights that I gained regarding building highly innovative businesses.

Validating Value Proposition And Growth Strategy Is The Priority

Usually, a highly innovative startup company is working in its most early stage at building a product or a service that will create a new market.

Consumers or businesses have not been yet exposed to something similar to what is going to be built by the startup. Therefore the absolute priority for startups in early stage is to validated their value proposition i.e. to get real data about eventual customers interest regarding their product/service.

The other priority is to validate that the growth strategy that is going to be executed is, in fact, effective.

The growth strategy of a startup is its plan to acquire more and more customers in the long term and in a sustainable fashion.

Three kinds of growth strategies are described in the book:

  • paid growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to be charged for the product or service, the cash earned from early users is reinvested in acquiring new users via advertising for example
  • viral growth in which you rely on the fact that customers are going to bring customers as a side effect of using the product/service
  • sticky growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to use the service in some regular fashion, paying for the service each time (via subscription for example).

These growth strategies are sustainable in the sense that they do not require continuous large capital investments or publicity stunts.

It is important to know as soon as possible which strategy or combination of strategies is the most effective at driving growth.

Applying The Scientific Method

The scientific method is a set of techniques that helps us figure out correct stuff. After making some observations regarding a phenomenon, you formulate a hypothesis about that phenomenon.

The hypothesis is an assumption that needs to be proven correct or incorrect. You then design experimentations that are going to challenge the assumption.

The results of the experimentations makes the correctness or incorrectness of the hypothesisclear allowing us to make judgments about its validity.

In the lean startup methodology, your job as an entrepreneur is to formulate two hypothesis:

  • hypothesis of value (assumptions about your value proposition)
  • hypothesis of growth (assumptions about the effectiveness of the growth strategy)

These hypothesis are then validated/invalidated through experimentation. Following the precepts of lean manufacturing, the lean startup methodology prescribes to make experimentations while minimizing/eliminating waste.

In other words, you have to burn minimum cash, effort and time when running experiments.

An experimentation in the lean startup sense is usually an actual product/service and helps startups in early stage learn invaluable things about their eventual future market.

Sometimes startups learn that nobody wants their product/service, imagine spending 8 months worth of engineering, design and promotion work (not to mention cash) in a product/service only to discover that it does not provide value to anyone.

Minimum Viable Products And Feedback

As we pointed out earlier, an experimentation can be an actual product or service and is called the minimum viable product(MVP).

The MVP is built to contain just enough features to validate the value and growth hypotheses, effectively requiring minimum time, effort and cash.

By getting the MVP launched and in front of real users, entrepreneurs can get concrete feedback from them either directly by asking them (in focus groups for example) or via usage analytics.

Analytics scales better then directly talking to customers but the latter is nonetheless used to cross validate results from the former.

It is crucial to focus on metrics that creates fine grained visibility about the performance of the business when building(or using) a usage analytics system. These metrics are called actionable metrics because they can link causes and effects clearly allowing entrepreneurs to understand the consequences of ideally each action executed. Cohort analysis is an example of a analytics strategy that focuses on actionable metrics.

The bad kind of metrics are called vanity metrics, these tend to hide how the business is performing, gross numbers like total users count are an example of vanity metrics.

The author cites several examples of different startups that managed to validate or debunk their early assumption by building stripped down and non scalable MVPs and even sometimes by not building software at all.

You would be surprised to hear for example how the Dropbox folks in their early stage managed to created a ~4 minute video demonstrating their product while it was still in development. The video allowed them to get more people signed up in their beta waiting list and raise capital more easily.

Closing Thoughts

In the first two parts of the book, the author talks also about how employees inside big companies working on highly innovative products and services can benefit greatly from the lean startup approach, although very interesting this is not very useful for me right now.

The third part, talks about the challenges that arises when the startup gets big and starts to stabilize and how to address them. Basically it revolves around not loosing the innovative spirit of the early days, again, this is not very useful for me so maybe for good future reading.


About the Author

This article was produced by Tech Dominator. see more.

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Women on Top in Tech – Dr. Sanna Gaspard, Founder and CEO of Rubitection



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Dr. Sanna Gaspard is the Founder and CEO of Rubitection, a medical device start-up developing a diagnostic tool for early stage pressure detection, assessment, and management. She is an Entrepreneur, inventor, and biomedical engineer with a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare and medical devices. She has received recognition and awards including being selected as a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards(’13), a semi-finalist for the Big C competition (’14), a finalist for the Mass Challenge Business accelerator in Boston, and taking 1st place at the 3 Rivers Investment Venture Fair’s Technology showcase (‘11). Her vision is to make the Rubitect Assessment System the global standard solution for early bedsore detection and management.

What makes you do what you do? 
I am driven to have impact and improve healthcare as I have a strong drive to problem solve, comes up with new ideas, and see them come to life.

How did you rise in the industry you are in? 
I first focused on getting the educational background and then I pursued the goals I have for myself. I got my PhD in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in medical device development. Having the educational background is important as a woman and minority to assist people in taking your seriously.  After completing my PhD, I focused on bringing my invention for a medical device for early bedsore detection and prevention called the Rubitect Assessment System to market to help save lives and improve care.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I started my startup, Rubitection , because I felt it was the best way to bring the technology to market. I knew that if I did not try to commercialize the technology, it would not make it to the doctors and nurses. I also have confidence that I could manage developing the technology since I had taken classes on entrepreneurship and had my PhD in biomedical engineering with a specialization in medical devices.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
No, I don’t have a specific mentor in my field. I am looking for one at the moment. However, I do look up to Steve Jobs and Oprah as examples of how one can start with nothing and work their way up and build a successful, global, and reputable business and brand.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?  
I first try to find people who have fundamental technical or work experience to be competent to complete the work. I then evaluate the person for intangible skills like independent thinking, reliability, leadership, resilience, organizational skills, strong work ethic, open mindedness/flexibility, and good communication skills.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? 
I consciously make an effort as a minority woman in tech, I intimately understand the need to promote diversity within my business and outside my business. I first hire the best people for the job and also make a point to hire women and minorities qualified for the position.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?  
It takes resilience, vision, being a team player, an ability to inspire others and delegate work, knowing your weakness, and knowing when to put your business or yourself first.

Advice for others?
My advice to others is to take calculated risks, pursue every opportunity, surround yourself with supporters, build your team with smart dedicated people, and stay focused on your vision. I am striving to implement this advice myself as I work towards commercializing my technology for early bedsore detection, grow my team, and recruit clinical partners to address an $11 billion US healthcare problem which affects millions around the world.

If anyone is interested in learning more about our work or company, please contact us at [email protected].

To learn more about Dr. Sanna Gaspard, CEO of Rubitection visit:

If you’d like to get in touch with Dr. Sanna Gaspard, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about Rubitection, please click here.

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