By Chern Huan Yee (22S06A)
Cover image by Raffles Entrepreneurship Network (REN)
This year, Raffles Entrepreneurship Network (REN) hosted the annual Raffles Business Symposium (RBS) in the form of a three-hour afternoon webinar on Friday, 20 August. Fittingly, it was themed around “Digitalization in Business.”
Students who signed up to RBS were tasked with creating a business proposal related to the annual theme. They then pitched it to the judges and were graded on their work. Out of the twenty-five teams this year, six made it to the finals held during the Symposium, and just one team eventually walked away as the champions.
Setting the Stage
The teams’ focus for RBS 2021 was on innovating ways for businesses, especially those normally brick-and-mortar, to adapt to and capitalize on technology.
Currently, we are facing a different pandemic, one that has induced anxiety and prospects of economic growth.
Koay Tze Erhn (22S06P)
REN chairperson Koay Tze Erhn (22S06P) elaborated on the context for the Symposium in her opening address — mentioning that 1 in 5 small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) are exhausted from battling COVID-19, and lack tech partners to help them in the transition from physical to digital — before handing the (figurative) mic over to the first of the three RBS speakers-cum-judges.
They each gave a short speech sharing about their own journeys in Fintech, an industry which deals with the integration of technology into financial services companies’ offerings for better use by consumers.
Their speeches emphasized the need to focus on an individual client’s needs — an important tip that, along with many others sprinkled throughout their speeches, was aimed at the aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience.
After a quick break and Q&A session, it was the finalists’ time to shine. Team FAMEUX kicked things off with a proposal for an app to assist SMEs in understanding customer demographics, increasing profits and connecting with potential investors.
Their presentation emphasized the app’s ability to provide tailored consultation and market analysis to SMEs, as well as its matching function (of SMEs to investors). It would target both parties, i.e. the larger company would find a suitable SME to invest in while the SME could learn from the larger one, streamlining their own digitalization process.
Team Blitz came next, pitching BeyondX, a Virtual Reality (VR) shopping mall, with features such as proximity voice chat and spatial hearing with 3D-modelled shelves and items, accessed through an affordable VR headset (something like Google Cardboard).
Their service was specially targeted at the elderly, young shoppers and busy adults, who would find the shopping mall more convenient to access than real-world malls. SMEs using BeyondX to sell products would hence gain a sustainable market, while also receiving detailed analytics tracking consumer spending and behaviour.
They ended off with their value proposition with a snappy quote: “BeyondX integrates what you’re looking for, online and offline.”
Next up was Team SOAP, focused on helping SMEs transition to e-commerce. They provided two platforms on which SMEs could grow and develop their businesses. First was a crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas which users would then invest in. Second, and more importantly, was a pre-built e-commerce storefront for businesses to sell their products. Benefits for the SMEs who became members of the platform included an increase in brand awareness, a large consumer base, and analytics on consumer response. Their slogan: “SOAP your way into the digital era!”
Afterwards, Team Laydar presented LAYDARFOOD, a zero commission delivery platform for hawkers. They explained that what stopped hawkers from going digital was mostly the high commission rates delivery services demanded, which meant the hawkers had to mark-up their prices, harming both hawkers and consumers.
To help less tech-savvy hawkers, a tutorial video would be played after registration and a helpline number provided; other features included a streamlined process for setting up an online storefront, with an automatic scanner for hawkers to upload menus. Hawkers would also be able to receive a summarized monthly report of sales data, so as to assess their own performance. They explained their subscription-revenue model focused on building customer loyalty and would boost profits in the long run.
Another hawker-targeted proposal was pitched by Team Hectnif with Financent, a general programme to assist hawkers in their business. They explained that >50% of hawkers have not digitalized due to complicated technology, profit margin concerns, and social media marketing difficulty.
To such challenges, the team suggested solutions such as a digital Point of Sales system, data analysis and marketing with social media (“simply put, it’s Tinder but for hawkers and micro-influencers”). They especially aimed to help hawkers make sense of potentially overwhelming market data by giving hawkers insights and suggestions using layman terms and comparisons (e.g. plates of food) instead of obfuscatory numbers and statistics.
Last but not least was Team Charkwayteow with Bearcare, a website aimed at tackling the digitalization of the healthcare industry. They cited messy paperwork, time-consumption and patients’ fear of services such as injections as challenges the industry faced. Hence, a plethora of features for both patients and doctors were presented.
For patients, their provisions included a clinic finder for easier booking of appointments, a list of curated videos to teach patients how to apply medicines, and a forum to share concerns with others anonymously. For doctors, they would provide spreadsheets for patient details and appointment matters, seminars, and subsidized medical journals. A referral programme and social media would be used to advertise the site.
Before announcing their decisions, the judges commented that the presentations were well thought-out, and that it was heartening to see issues of the hawker and healthcare industry being addressed. Certainly, all the teams had put forth their best effort, but it was Team Charkwayteow that walked away with champion bragging rights and a $400 cash prize.
2nd Runner-up: Team SOAP (RGS)
1st Runners-up: Team Blitz (SJI)
Champion: Team Charkwayteow (RGS)
Congratulations to all the participants!