In this Tictag blog entry, we’ll be talking about how a startup can benefit from competitions and accelerators. This is gleaned from our own experiences over the past year, and we’ve participated in (and won!) quite a few.
As an innovative startup, we realised early on that important for Tictag to build up exposure and develop our business by testing our ideas and pitches against other companies, and against seasoned judges.
Reason 1: Prize and Exposure - Winning the SMU PAK Challenge
One of our earliest competitions was the Singapore Management University PAK Challenge, where our co-founder Keeve pitched Tictag. While Tictag was at a fairly nascent stage then, Keeve managed to overcome some extremely creative competitors and brought home the Grand Prize. Besides the sizeable prize money of S$50,000, which helped us tremendously in funding our early development efforts, we got a significant amount of exposure in our home turf of SMU.
Reason 2: Entering a New Region - enlisitng as a finalist in Korean Startup Grand Challenge
At the same time, Keeve was participating in the Korean Startup Grand Challenge, which gave us an incredible amount of exposure to the Korean market, and opened our eyes as to the advancement of A.I. and data science in that market. It also helped us to understand the ecosystem in South Korea - through the experience we clinched an important customer and snowballed our efforts there. More importantly, we found talent that we never would have been able to meet otherwise, and they’ve helped to grow the business there. While we didn’t end up winning the competition outright, we won in more ways than one.
iFlytek 1024 Developers Forum (1st place)
Our most recent achievement at the iFlytek 1024 Developers Forum organised by XNode was largely due to our desire to explore the Chinese market, and that we did. The pitches we prepared were honed towards a potential partnership with iFlytek, one of the largest AI firms in China, and this gave us the impetus to do research into the Chinese market that we might not otherwise have done. The pressure of competing with other fierce competitors can’t be underestimated - it accelerated our research and tuned our pitch. While we did come out on top, the experience we gained and the future partnerships we can form with iFlytek and other companies were arguably more valuable than the prize.
Reason 3: Entering a Different Domain - Y-Lab by National Gallery
Tictag was invited to be the pioneering batch of this new programme by the National Gallery that seeks to connect and testbed solutions from startups in the Gallery to promote ArtTech. The programme opened us up to an entirely new domain space (art) that’s ripe for disruption and innovation, and we successfully conducted a pilot that yielded overwhelmingly positive results. This also led us on to more opportunities as well, and really proved to us the value of programmes that might not at first glance be exactly in the same space as yours.
This programme seeks to ‘boost’ companies in Southeast Asia to the next level by exposing them to other markets, and also providing them with valuable connections and advice from mentors that hail from different backgrounds. Through this programme we developed our pitch even further, and managed to get some partnership leads with companies across the region as well.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of the many competitions and accelerators we’ve participated in as a company, but the ones we’ve talked about in this post represent a great variety that have enhanced our capabilities in a host of different ways. Perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learnt from each of these is that the journey is often worth more than the best prize!
By Kevin Quah
Co-founder & CEO, Tictag