Travelling alone has always been on my bucket list and little did I know that I would have a golden opportunity to do so during my stint in PolicyPal. Though I did not have much prior experiences in pitching or competitions, I jumped on the opportunity to represent PolicyPal in Asia Smart Apps Award 2017. With that, I embarked on an exciting journey to one of the busiest and densely populated cities – Hong Kong.
Touring Hong Kong’s Technology Hub
The first destination of my trip was Cyberport– Hong Kong’s technology hub that has established itself as a place offering talents, financial support and strong supporting infrastructure. It is similar to Singapore’s startup scene here, where there are many government subsidies pumped in to propel start ups’ growth in a volatile and tough environment.
On the day of the tour, I travelled with other finalists of the competition and visited various entrepreneurship centres within Cyberport. Its Fintech Co-working space was surely similar to Lattice80 in Singapore, housing over 100 startups at once!
After speaking to various entrepreneurs, I came to realize many entrepreneurs’ struggle to expand overseas as they venture out of its small domestic market just like Singapore. Hong Kong may seem like a perfect entry point to China’s huge domestic market as it sits at the southeast coast of China. Ironically, it still has a long way to go as they face difficulties in the China market due to the cultural differences between them and China.
Data is King!
Next up, we went to a place which I was really impressed with. It’s the Data Studio @ Science Park where they create an online platform for public, private organizations to contribute data to develop Hong Kong’s Smart City Solutions. Such a physical studio for data is definitely still unheard of in Singapore! With a few simple swipes and click, regional and real-time data is presented in a visually appealing format.
Time for the real deal of this trip – my pitch at the Asia Smart App Award. It is the first Asia-wide contest organized by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association to recognize the excellence of innovative smartphone Apps.
The pitch is definitely what I remembered most vividly throughout the trip. With a panel of 13 judges holding top positions from Technological Councils and National agencies across Asia, it was definitely a nerve-wracking experience to pitch in front of them. There were endless questions that were bounced back here and there. I, however, managed to keep my cool and manage to answer their questions clearly and convincingly.
Right after that, it was time to set up my booth! Here, I entertained a myriad of people across different industries, explaining the PolicyPal App functions and doing demonstrations. What really wow people was the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) that digitalized their policies immediately.
After tending the booth and awaiting the results for the whole day, it was finally the Awards Ceremony and guess what?! PolicyPal won the Gold Award For Business and Productivity Category for Asia SmartApps Award 2017! I felt extremely thankful and glad that I did not disappoint my bosses/everyone. It was such an honour to represent PolicyPal to present to over 200 exclusive guests from the startup and Fintech field. I definitely hoped that this has managed to elevate PolicyPal’s branding! What an experience it was!
Making New Friends Around the World
Amidst the learning I had, I also had a lot of fun making international friends and even travelling with them. Initially, I thought it would be difficult to mingle around with the other finalists but this experience really took me by surprise. It opened my eyes to different cultures and made me understand how political and cultural differences impact the business environment in other countries through casual conversations with them.
If there was anything common I learnt from all the entrepreneurs I met thus far, it would be that grit and resilience is key to success. This golden experience is an irreplaceable one. Hong Kong and Singapore run alongside each other in many aspects with strong governmental support and both are developing their cities into fertile ground for the next unicorn startup. Nonetheless, even with such support, entrepreneurs would have to face a stormy path ahead and only the most resilient can pull through.
To sum up this trip – it was hella a rollercoaster ride and definitely the highlight of the year for me. I’m super grateful to my bosses for having faith in me, giving me this golden opportunity to stretch my potential. I’m definitely glad that I did not disappoint them and believe that PolicyPal will continuously strive to achieve greater heights!
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