I am still on a high from winning at the Dentsu Aegis Network Female Foundry Program demo day. Our business, TripClub, SEA’s first mobile business travel platform for small and medium enterprises, emerged as the winner among six start-ups from all over Southeast Asia. Being chosen to be part of this program alone was a feat and I was so excited when I first learned that we got in. It is a first for me to experience this.
Two weeks before demo day each of the participants was assigned a mentor. I am very fortunate to have been paired with James Hawkins, Managing Director for APAC of Dentsu X. He has been most helpful in providing clarity as I distilled our business narrative. He is a very busy executive and I truly valued how he carved time to talk to me. He has also given me a fresh perspective with his experience in creatives, performance marketing and community building. Our discussions were always lively and insightful. He even coached me as I polished my pitch a few hours before demo day.
A two-day boot camp was also set-up and this was facilitated by the amazing Anna C. Mallon. Anna coaches start-ups, investors and helps shape corporate innovation for major companies. This part of the program helped me distill my proposition further and introduced a business model canvas that was created by investors, something worth doing as I embark on a fundraising round. It was a great opportunity to also interact from fellow female founders from all over the region and share common experiences and challenges. This community of women coming together made me realise once again that I am not unique in my struggles as a solo female founder. We have similar difficulties and we can learn from and help each other make sense of these.
As I allowed myself to take in fully this entire experience, I realised and was also reminded that I am at my best when I do things beyond myself, beyond just winning or getting ahead of others. I perform best when I strive towards something bigger than my business and personal objectives. I again couldn’t help but ask why I am doing what I am doing. I am building because I hope to inspire entrepreneurs, especially women founders, to plod on and work on their big goals, strive to solve real problems and at the same time build their interests, families and communities. I believe we build ourselves up when we do so and in the process we also create a tribe of women who bring their fullest selves in the work that they do. This is powerful and I want to stand behind and for this. This is my Big Why 🙂
As I stood to pitch, I fumbled a bit at the start, overwhelmed by what I wanted to say. But I caught myself, centred and remembered my mantra- focus, speak with clarity, share your energy. This is what I did and I just gave it my best shot. I felt that the people who put this together for us, and all they invited, everyone who took time out of their busy schedules just to watch us, deserved nothing but the best of efforts. It was no longer about winning but it was about sharing value to all who were present. And being wholeheartedly present as well.
I will be forever thankful for this experience and I am so energised to represent Southeast Asia at the West Tech Fest in Perth this week!