LaunchX: Building The Startup Generation Of Tomorrow

In every society across the world, entrepreneurs play important roles in accelerating economic growth, creating jobs and promoting social change.

Post-pandemic, entrepreneurs are more important than ever to shape the evolving new normal where behaviours and capabilities have changed, even while humanity continues to face daunting challenges such as climate change.

Sunway University, likely the only university around the region or even the world to have access of a multibillion conglomerate with 13 business lines and in-house venture capital firms – has created a game changing open innovation ecosystem which is being continuously evolved to support the growth of local start-ups as well as well as create employers instead of employees.

One of its notable initiatives is the Startup Foundry, an entrepreneurship programme launched by Sunway Innovation Labs (iLabs) at Sunway University in collaboration with the University’s School of Science and Technology.

The Startup Foundry is the first university elective course of its kind in the country which helps year two students and above from different schools build their business ideas while earning academic credits – an ingenious way to create employers instead of employees. Its first intake started in August 2020.

With no academic lecturers and no exams, the Startup Foundry drives the creation of business ideas that will have the potential to be taken forward as a startup, and also to develop entrepreneurial mindsets amongst students.

As an evolution from the Startup Foundry, Sunway iLabs had launched LaunchX a startup incubation programme in February this year.

Karen Lau, Sunway iLabs Foundry Director explained, “From the Startup Foundry, we noticed that there were students who would like to continue the entrepreneurship journey by transforming their ideas generated from Startup Foundry into a real business. At the same time, we see also a big gap between what Sunway Group has to offer (e.g. test bed, market access and investment) and what our students have – most of them are stuck at the ideation stage – they have ideas but not the know-how on how to progress from there.

LaunchX is accessible to Sunway University students, Sunway University alumni, and Sunway University researchers.

The programme helps its participants develop their business ideas and transform it into fully-functional business models with ensured product-market fit and allows teams a real opportunity to form their own company. It equips ambition with the skills and money to take it to the next level of venture-building with eight key benefits

  • ·       6-month venture building curriculum
  • ·       Leadership communication and training
  • ·       Pre-seed investment
  • ·       Mentorship
  • ·       Market validation
  • ·       Investment
  • ·       Talent from Sunway University’s pool of students
  • ·       Co-working space hotdesking at iLabs Foundry

In this series of five articles, Disruptr speaks to the start-up teams who has experienced Sunway University’s unique ecosystem to find out what they are brewing, what their ambitions are, and how they will leapfrog their business from Launch X after they had secured their funding.

LAUNCH X START-UP #1 : HYPOLLECT

Audrey Phang Ker Han, Janice Chin Jie Nee, Karen Ng Kai En and Sujittra Sri A/P Kumara are students in Sunway University’s School of Engineering and Technology.

They had met each other and put together their four-person team while taking the Startup Foundry course in Sunway University.

From then, they had successfully become one of the teams that have managed to acquire seed funding under the LaunchX program conducted by Sunway iLabs.

“For the Startup Foundry course, the first task was to find our teammates, which was how the four of us became a team. It was a great time for us, as we got to finish our assignments together and had bonded really well amongst ourselves making our university experience since, an unforgettable one,” said Karen.

Founder, Karen Ng proposed the idea of having a platform for collectibles with a built-in live auction feature. The rest of the team agreed unanimously as they were all collectors and had the same vision. And thus, the idea of HYPOLLECT, the first-ever e-commerce marketplace platform in Malaysia for collectibles was formed.

The HYPOLLECT team (L-R) (Janice Chin Jie Nee, Karen Ng Kai En, Sujittra Sri A/P Kumara Guruparan and Audrey Phang Ker Han)

“We realised that as collectors ourselves as well as other collectors in Malaysia had quite similar concerns – authenticity and packaging quality are two primary concerns we intended to solve,” said Sujittra.

To solve this problem, HYPOLLECT will create a trustworthy trading environment through pre-screening sellers, and their listings and implement quality control on packaging. Collectible packaging is standardized to reduce any potential damage during postage.

Janice said that the Launch X programme was an important part of the teams’ entrepreneurship journey.

 

“Participating in the Launch X programme was really great for us as it helped us expand our network and meet like-minded ambitious people with great startup ideas. The talks from the speakers gave us groundbreaking insights into the business world that immensely contributed to how we shaped HYPOLLECT.”

The team said that they learnt a lot from the various mentors who had provided immense help throughout the programme.

“We are incredibly grateful for all the advice given by the seasoned mentors of the Launch X Programme.

Intrepid’s CEO, Ms. Emmanuelle Chavarot, a mentor assigned to us by Sunway iLabs, provided us incredible insights on how to build an e-commerce platform as well as advised us on digital marketing.

Sunway University lecturer Algarani Suntharam had guided us on our business model and helped our pitch succeed, whilst Sunway University Student Life Senior Executive, Marvin Mah (who is an excellent and fit millennial) was our first ever mentor. He helped us break out of our shells and significantly improve our first idea which was first started back in our time in Startup Foundry.”

 

Interpid Malaysia CEO, Emmanuel Chavarot and Sunway Education Group Student LIFE Senior Executive, Marvin Mah

Explaining immediate and future plans for HYPOLLECT, Karen said, “We are keen to start marketing HYPOLLECT in Sunway University and move on to promote our business in the many components in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur which itself houses a population of 200,000 and hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists visiting every year.”

“We are actually delighted to be able to start our business here as it is one of the most ‘happening’ townships in Klang Valley – a trendmaker city – aligned to what we want to be as a business,” she added.

Sunway City Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia’s premier living lab, where innovation is purposefully nurtured

“Sunway City Kuala Lumpur is really the greatest place to kickstart our business. We want every collector to eventually associate HYPOLLECT with collectibles and we aim to provide top-notch services to cater to our users,”

“We hope that by the time we graduate from Sunway University, we would have gathered enough traction and exposure to work out our hand-on verification feature and expand our business across Malaysia,” added Audrey.

The team hopes that HYPOLLECT will become the biggest established platform for collectibles in the next five years and looks forward to expanding to neighboring countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia.

“We strongly believe in HYPOLLECT and its potential. Based on our research and involvement in the collectible world, we are confident that HYPOLLECT has a solid chance to grow,” said Karen.

“Collectibles are not confined to a few categories ranging from antique watches to modern-day sneakers. It is an ongoing hobby for both the older and younger generations,” she added.

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