Written by Rafael Liang, EntreCamp Alumni and now intern at Reactor
What better way to learn about Reactor — the company I'm interning with — than by experiencing EntreCamp as a participant?
From my conversations with the Reactor staff during my interviews, I knew largely that they conducted camps/programmes/classes on entrepreneurship for students and customised innovation-focused programmes for businesses; beyond that, I had little idea of the methods and pedagogies that they used. As an intern, being part of EntreCamp meant that I was immersing myself in the Reactor Experience and learning everything there is to learn.
Throughout, it was a journey of self-discovery of both what I was capable of (organising my thoughts and problem-solving) and what I could improve on (presentation skills and time management), as the start-up journey was unravelled to us: the start-up methodology, idea generation and divergent thinking, prototyping and presenting a competitive pitch.
Group Shot After Competitive Pitch; Participants (in white) & Trainers (in black). P.S. That’s me, the only guy wearing a blue jacket!
Day 1 Highlights
Introduction to the Start-up Landscape and the Lean Methodology
EntreCamp began with introducing some of the hallmarks that start-ups generally display, as well as answering some of the burning questions (and perhaps misconceptions) that we had, on what it takes to start a startup.
One of the activities that introduced the Lean Methodology required us to organise labels that described the start-up cycle. My team—being the most out-of-the-box thinkers—Googled our answers and got it right (hope none of the Reactor staff reads this)!
Participants were asked to list some of their reservations/questions they would like answered at the camp // Are the words listed some of the questions you would ask?
Teams were tasked to arrange labels (Learn, Ideas, Product, Build, Data, Measure) according to what they thought was a logical approach to start a business // How would you arrange these labels, more importantly, what would your rationale be?
Sharing Session by Existing Start-ups
EntreCamp had the privilege of having Aashish Mehta and Lionel Cook share with us their start-up journey in their industry—what drove them, the difficulties they faced, how they overcame those challenges, and what they envisioned for their companies.
They also presented 2 out of the 3 challenge statements teams could choose to work on.
It’s always interesting to have people who have gone before us share their journey and challenge our assumptions about; especially, that adversity never does go away, they are part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. That is something which we soon learnt at EntreCamp: one more problem, one more opportunity.
Case in point, Aashish’s mother had difficulties doing laundry (specifically when the clothes were done washing) so he decided to create a product that made it easier for her to do them.
Personally, I was impressed by Lionel’s willingness to step out of his comfort zone to relocate (his family too mind you!), pursuing what he thought was what the industry was headed towards.
Barter: How much is your paperclip worth?
An EntreCamp classic, paper clip
selling bartering, aimed to inculcate values of resilience, ambition, creativity and adaptability.
You start to think to yourself: “Really? Just a paperclip? How am I supposed to trade this for something better? Would people even bother to trade?”
I thought this activity highlighted, some of the ‘hidden values’ we hold and forces us to face them, namely:
It’s not as easy as it seems, as the participants soon found out! // Do you think you have what it takes?
Day 1 ended with teams working on their individual challenge statements using the Start-up Validation Board — a framework that helps put all their ideas into a structured and scientific manner.
A team filling up the Start-up Validation Board that addresses assumptions about the target segment.
Day 2 Highlights
Prototyping Track 1: 3D Modelling
Day 2 focused on bringing these ideas to life by prototyping—creating miniature preliminary versions/pilot models of what would be the intended products, for further evaluation of feasibility and improvements.
This was probably the most enjoyable activity for most of us. While day 1 focused on conception and ideation, day 2 was very hands-on as we learnt how to prototype using the various new technologies available to us (good for all you kinaesthetic learners, like me)!
Infographic illustrating some basic information about Polymorph Thermoplastic used in Rapid Prototyping.
While half of each team went to learn about Micro Robotics, the other half were sent to learn about 3D Modelling—seen here, participants learning how to use a 3D pen.
I think despite all the hype out there about 3D-printing as the new way of building/creating, I learnt that it’s better to have a mould to create objects that have no unique/intricate features; items that can typically be mass produced should not 3D printed as it is very expensive to do so, as well as being very time-consuming.
Prototyping Track 2: Micro Robotics
Teams learning to do simple coding to programme their Printed Circuit Boards (PCB)! Note: Simple!
Day 2 ended with a mock pitch from each team; feedback (both positive and constructive criticism) was encouraged after each team finished presenting.
M. Ibnur Rashad from Ground-Up Innovation Labs for Development (GUILD) detailing the components of a Concept Poster.
Teams after their mock pitch, in preparation for the actual one on day 3!
Day 3 Highlights
Competitive Pitch Preparation & Practice
Ah yes, all that we had learnt so far was to prepare for this moment where we present our solution to the problem that was given to us at the beginning. I think the strength of my team was that we had a really unique and solid idea, unfortunately, we did not prioritise rehearsing so I think we did not do too well in that regard.
Note-to-self: Never use Prezi ever again for presentation—it takes way too long!
In retrospect, it’s equally important not to only have a feasible solution but to master the art of presenting (where possibly the other half of the battle is won). This is the stage where funding is granted and resources are provided to actualise the product.
While we had good synergy, we had varying levels of presentation skills and that really showed when we moved from one speaker to another, nonetheless we learnt a great deal about ourselves and each other!
DEM JUDGES, *DUN DUN DUUN*!
With that, 3 days of camp officially comes to a close!
EntreCamp certainly was eventful for me, I made new friends, and it provided me with a platform to explore my creativity, discover my strengths and weaknesses; qualities that can be applied throughout my remaining university days, and when I eventually enter the workforce.
A page closes, a new chapter begins for me.
Reactor would like to thank all participants for being a part of EntreCamp June 2017; this camp has certainly been an exciting and wonderful experience for our team (and hopefully for y’all as well), we appreciate your invaluable feedback and we promise to make the next EntreCamp an even more memorable one.
Each EntreCamp is unique, with its fair share of crazy (yet novel) ideas, affirming us in what we do: to cultivate the galaxy’s best founders!
A special thanks to PIXEL Labs for generously allowing us to use their facilities; Ibnur Rashad and Sullivan Wang from GUILD; Lionel Cook from iMMERSiVELY; without your partnership and dedication, this programme would not have been possible.
Lastly, we thank you, parents, for entrusting your children to us over these past 3 days, believing in the potential of what your children can become!
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