The Journey of ExchangeBuddy : Pre-Launch – Part 3

CS3216 Week 10

Crunch time coming when launch time coming soon. As they say, murphy law always happens and so we always need to set aside buffer prior to our launch! *Fingers double cross for this*.

Highlights for the week:

  • Launch of Lead Up to Launch (LUL) videos

  • Practicum grant

  • Feelings

  1. LUL

Wowz our videos did take off well with our first sequence gathered 5000 views and more than 50 shares within 3 days. We had a total of over 7000 views for the entire sequence!

The takeaway from LUL is that we should have a more thought through story board for sequential videos. That probably explains why the first video had so much more reach than the other 2 parts.

Another takeaway is that the timing of the video matters!

  1. Practicum grant

Great news, we managed to get the offer!

“Money Money Money, Must be funny, In a rich man’s world!”

Wait wait wait, this is good news but I always believe that we shouldn’t spend money unless we NEED it. We need to avoid a situation of being too reliant on fundings because it is not a sustainable cash inflow. If we are too reliant on spending, and once it’s used up, Bye Bye, we’ll be squashed. Therefore, we would only use these funds to spearhead certain execution which is required and not spend it unnecessarily.

Some tips: In using $, we should have an objective in mind of what we want to achieve by spending $X amount. This can be calculated by identifying the user acquisition cost which helps to determine how much to spend for X number of users. We can also calculate the cost per user with the above result. Following which, I have drafted out a rough plan on a few campaigns to be run throughout 2017 and which campaign to choose would be determined by the cost per user conversion.

  1. Feelings


Sometimes, leading a startup (I don’t like to use this term as it feels overused) isn’t as glamorous as it seems because in addition to the common problems that we need to manage (academics, relationships, commitments etc.), we also need to be concerned about the morale of the team, progress of the development and execution of the project. My team is important to me because I strongly believe in TEAM.

There is only so much one can achieve but there is so much more we can achieve as a team. – Can I quote myself here? Haha

What motivates me?

I don’t know why but somehow thinking about the future and the potential to create value motivates me. Okay shall not go into this at such a time but I’m extremely excited for the launch of our new web application! So do support us when it is live alright!

That’s all for me this week! Adios !

Journey of ExchangeBuddy: Part 2 – Pitch and Hustle

CS3216 : Week 9

Hi guys! Sorry that I didn’t update the previous week so for this week’s edition I’ll be publishing two posts! The highlight for part 2 would be

1) NUS practicum and innovation grant pitch

2) Full team meeting

3) Mistakes that we made prior to propagating

4) NOC connect roadshow

5) Promo video film.

  • Pitch

Let me recall where I stopped last week. Oh, yes it was at the pitch to NUS enterprise so I shall start from there. Pitched to NUS enterprise for the innovation grant on Monday and I must admit that it was my first time pitching to a panelist of 5 with some investors within the panelist.

Was I nervous? Well, kind of and not really. I was nervous the start but somehow as I started pitching, I reverted to my presentation style. I feel that it’s important to be genuine and just be ourselves when we present and I’m not fond of putting up a front that isn’t myself. Perhaps I’ll need to do that someday as some investors might prefer a more professional outlook but okay we shall see as we progress.

Some key takeaways from the pitch:

  1. Be clear when describing your application flow!
  • Perhaps a good way to present this is to explain it using user flow story
  • Visual tells
  1. Saying that you’ll use Facebook/ Instagram for marketing with $ is like spanking yourself in the ass
  • It depends on the nature of your solution but using advertisement might not be the wisest choice to spend the money. Furthermore, the funding might not be sufficient to sustain this marketing cost and the conversion might not justify its cost.
  1. Be firm
  • Ok I feel that this can be subjective depending on investors. For me, I believe in humility and thus I do not like to “argue” my points but instead, accept arguments that I’m not able to give a good rebuttal. A feedback that I got is that I should be more firm even when questions are shot because by giving in, it might give the investor an impression that I am unsure of what I’m doing.

What’s the FINAL outcome of the grant? Heh check out Part 3 !

  • Full team meeting


We had our first meeting at the hangar today. The main agenda is to get everyone to know one another because I strongly believe in a homely working culture.


Just when we just had a viral content that is achieving more than 100 shares, and gaining traffic of 1000 views a day, our website went down! *Panic button pushed! *. This is because we wanted to connect the current domain to our new application for NOC connect on Saturday. However, our plan backfired as we didn’t deploy and test it on a staging server prior to connecting. Hence, when there were issues with connecting the backend, BOOMZ, server down, our current website cannot be displayed due to propagation time (24-48hours) and we are not able to showcase our new application during NOC connect.

The point to note here is to deploy and test on a staging server before releasing and note that DNS propagation takes time!

  • NOC connect roadshow


Thank you, NUS NOC for the opportunity! This is our 2nd road show where we got REAL with users. The interesting thing about doing road shows is that we get more familiar with our application as we share with more people! Also, we did validation by talking people and through these conversations, we got to understand more about the needs of our users and ways which we can improve our application.

On a side note, I was extremely touched by a friend who mentioned ExchangeBuddy during his speech upon receiving his scholarship. It may be a simple act but it made me feel that what I’m doing thus far was recognized and serve as a motivation for me and my team to push harder.


  • Promo video filming

    Processed with Snapseed.
    Processed with Snapseed.

How do we make it viral? The answer to this is to ride with the trend! However, this can go either extremes. Finger cross that ours would be at the better end! Did some basic filming, voice recording and editing. Wait out for our promotional video!


That is all for part 2! Check out part 3 on Pre-Launch !



The birth of ExchangeBuddy

CS3216 : Week 8

Hello friends!

It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted on my CS3216 Journey. Things have been tight with all the submissions and midterms that came along but not to worry as we’re still on track and gearing up for the final stretch! With the final project on the way, I’ll be sharing with you guys the journey of the NEW ExchangeBuddy (Here is the link to the current version if you want to know what is it about!) and hopefully it’ll be able to give you a more genuine and factual insight of how is it like trying to start something up at the infancy stage! Take note, we’re going to launch on the week of


Flash back to the beginning of the final project whereby 10 projects will be taken up by 10 groups. 3 weeks ago, we had external and internal pitches. During external pitches, established startups such as Shopback and Quickdesk came down to pitch projects and there were about 14 companies. On the other hand, there were about 7 internal pitches. This add up to 21 pitches! To be honest, I was confident yet worried on whether ExchangeBuddy is able to juice interest from my course mates as I didn’t manage to execute my pitch well on the pitch night. Furthermore, the established companies were able to provide monetary incentives while me on the other hand, I’m still a student living on pocket money. However, luckily for me, I found myself a team of like-minded budding team mates who are eager to bring forward this cause and make a difference to the world. We decided to work together because of the possibility of CONTINUING ExchangeBuddy after the module. There were other extremely talented course mates who were interested to be part of this project but unfortunately, we could only be in a team of 4 and hence I wouldn’t be able to work with them this time round. However, I do look forward to work with them once the course is over!

Meet the development team! Left to Right : Yan Hao, Han Ming, Kai Yi

Flash front, we are now on the 3rd week of development and things are going well. In terms of marketing, I had the marketing plan from now till Dec planned out and here are some of the stuff which we are currently doing (but I won’t be sharing everything! You’ll need to like our Facebook and Instagram to check out the SURPRISE!). I will be involved in all of these initiatives and I’m fortunately to have assistance from my talented friends whom I would like to credit these initiatives to.

  1. Contacting universities
  2. Facebook Page
  3. Instagram – #aweekOnExchange ( YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO FOLLOW THIS. COOL STUFF)
  4. Designing of A1 poster (Yu Ann)
  5. Maintaining ExchangeBuddy content (Kiat Han)
  6. Promotional Video (Sue Mae)
  7. Special Video
  8. International Study Fair 1st Oct
    1. Managed to get ExchangeBuddy’s branding out to students who are intending to travel overseas and I’m surprise to hear of NSFs who knew about ExchangeBuddy.
  9. N-House sharing 5th Oct
    1. Had a booth during N-house Open Day and I was impressed by the number of driven young minds who wish to create value. Also, we received more than 10 internship interest applications. Internship is definitely an aspect we will look into after re-gearing and strategizing at the end of the term
  10. NOC connect sharing 15th Oct
Us at N-house Open Day! From left to Right : Kai Yi, Eugene, Kiat Han

In addition to marketing efforts, ExchangeBuddy have gotten through the final round of the NUS innovation grant and I will be pitching to them on Monday, 10th October! Let’s hope NUS believe in us because we’re going to make it happen!

And that is all of the wrap up of the past 3 weeks! Do stay tuned to this site for updates about the growth of a startup

AND REMEMBER 24Th October! Get ready to be part of this crazily fun student community!

Ciaos !

Week 5 : Countdown to internal pitch!

The past week was less intense as we had external pitching where companies came down and pitch their ideas. The idea that caught my attention was Treatsure by Preston. It was a similar idea that we had in Startup Weekend Olsztyn, Poland where we came in 1st runner up and was awarded the best pitch! Old good memories I must say. But STILL, I’m more excited for the internal pitch as it would be the time when I could pitch ExchangeBuddy! Looking forward to form a team to undertake this project because it is going to be REAL! I got the marketing covered and most importantly the possibility to embark on a journey together after CS3216! We aren’t only building it for the finals, we are going to build it for the FUTURE! Met with a staff from NUS enterprise, received useful feedback on it and I will be submitting the practicum grant form this week too! Ok enough for the excitement and I shall keep the rest for the pitch tomorrow!

Other than the above mentioned, this week was assignment 3 week and my group have decided to work on Schoolines – An application that can consolidate deadlines so that students would no longer need to refer to IVLE regularly to check on the various exam and assignment deadlines. Started learning illustrator and completed the logo for our application! Wait up for Schoolines and we’ll take care of your deadlines !

That’s all for this week! Ciao!

Week 4: When you think it’s over, think again.

For this week’s episode of CS3216, it’s presentation and assignment 1 week!

Most of the week’s action were captured in my previous post on app critique so I could only share about assignment 1. I AM DAMM PROUD OF THE WORK BY MY GROUP MATES because after the submission, I went to showcase the app to 20 students and all of them told me that they would use it! I must admit that most of the work were done by my group mates while I focused on project management, idea validation, speaking to potential partners and marketing – revived the Instagram account with a new campaign #aweekOnExchange wherein students currently on exchange would get to take control of our Instagram account for a week! So for those who are interested in how the marketing is going, do check us out @ExchangeBuddy on Instagram! I hope that this momentum could continue and the project could be extended as a Final Project! I will definitely be pitching this idea during the internal pitching session and I hope that my classmates will see value in this project as much as I do.

Finally, one “submission” down but it seems like the assignments in this module has a revive potion because now sprung up Assignment 3! Time to brainstorm, hustle, repeat. In order to upgrade my skillset, I went for a design 101 course conducted in PGP on Saturday and I look forward to apply the skills gained from this workshop (Hopefully it will be applicable).

Ok that’s all for this week, see you!


Application Critique

CS3216 Application Feedback: Telegram

Telegram was founded by Russian born entrepreneur Pavel Durov in 2013 and it is a secured messaging application. In other words, our conversations in telegram are “secret” and only people involved in the conversations can view.

Summary of what the presenting team said about the application that you think is most important

Here are three points which I feel are the most important.

Firstly, Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, stay firm to the company’s values and do not share user’s data despite the fact that terrorists are using it for communication. This is a point for concern because it compromises safety and affects the branding of the company. By staying true to its core value, Telegram established itself as a messaging application that users can trust for private conversations and this builds customer loyalty. However, this could serve as a double edged sword because of the sensitive topic on terrorism. It might portray an image to the public that Telegram is supportive of terrorist activities which in turn damages the company’s reputation.

Another thing that I learned from the presentation is that Telegram does not have a monetization strategy. We all know that a business is not sustainable when it does not generate sufficient revenue to cover cost and Telegram is no exception. Telegram is currently surviving on its Founder’s money from the sale of his previous start-up. Without a monetization strategy, Telegram would only incur cost which result in loses and its funds would one day be wipe out. Hence, in order to be sustainable, Telegram should find a way to generate revenue.

Lastly, Telegram only has text messaging as its core feature for communication. It does not have a call feature unlike its competitors- WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. This puts Telegram at a disadvantage in comparison to its competitors in providing communication services. Therefore, in order for Telegram to remain competitive, they would need to provide its users more value on top of encrypted text messaging.

What are my thoughts about telegram?

Firstly, I feel that it is difficult for Telegram to compete with WhatsApp. In the past, Telegram’s encrypted messaging feature helps to differentiate itself from WhatsApp, however, this differentiation has diminished after WhatsApp implemented encryption to its conversations. Furthermore, WhatsApp has a much bigger market share than Telegram. Without a strong differentiating factor or a bigger market share, it is difficult for Telegram to compete with strong players such as WhatsApp.

Next, Telegram should consider pivoting and enter into the cyber security business. With the increasing emphasis on cyber security, I believe that this industry will bloom in the years to come and Telegram should look into this potential market. Furthermore, Telegram has a pool of talents managing its encryption services and since the brand image of Telegram is associated to security and privacy, Telegram could take advantage of its branding and venture into the cyber security.

Thirdly, Telegram should find a balance between privacy and security. Staying true to its core principles in providing secured chat services does provide Telegram with a strong branding, however, the question to consider is “whether is it right to keep dangerous conversations secured?”. This dilemma occurs when the Telegram is abused to plan and execute wrong doings and thus Telegram should re-look at its stance regarding such activities.

All in all, being a non-technical student, the seminar has shown me the perspective on how non-technical people view and critic applications. Furthermore, it has introduced me to a new format of presentation – Pecha Kucha – which is somehow fun yet challenging because we do not have control over our presentation slides. That is all for my application critic and I look forward the next class on external pitching! Actually, I am more interested in the internal pitching as I am keen to find out about the interesting ideas that my classmates have in mind! I have an idea in mind that has the potential to scale BIG and I hope to pitch it! Ok that is all for today, ciao!

Week 3

This week’s sharing was great! We had a growth hacking lesson by Bjorn and an idea validation walk-through by Chris. I was fascinated by Bjorn’s sharing because growth hacking is a skill set that I can contribute and it is also an area that I’m working on; to grow from 0 to 25000 users in the shortest possible time. That led me to constantly think on how I could apply the techniques to our assignment 1: ExchangeBuddy. The learning process is much more effective when we relate it to something. We’re fortunate to have an experience growth hacker sharing genuine techniques with us and here are some pointers that I’ve learned from the sharing.

  1. Move in early, dominate easier
  2. Make ads your drones
  3. Everyone is lazy, YouTube
  4. Be a great artist.
  5. Associate with brands cheaply. Hire with freelancers smartly
  6. Positioning for Media & Mainstream: frame your message in “x for y” terms
  7. “80-20” Rule of Cold Emails
  8. Fake it till you make it
  9. Plant seeds in forums
  10. Paying for traffic

Of course, not all of these techniques will work and it depends on the solution of the problem we are trying to solve! Following which, it’s back to assignment work. This week is more challenging than the others because we have 2 assignments going on simultaneously. Assignment 1 and 2. Assignment 2 is on application critic and we were introduced to a new presentation style: Pecha Kucha. It sounds kind of cute and I seriously do not know what language it is in but it is presentation style wherein there will be 20 slides and each slide auto advances every 20 seconds. It is a rather interesting presentation method because we will not have control over our slides. Still rather shaky after rehearsing for a few times but yeah, looking forward to the presentation tomorrow! The sad thing is that I only realized that the slides do not auto advance every 20 seconds after adding in animations to EVERY slide of our PowerPoint. Thus, I went to clarified if some slides could be less than 20 seconds and unfortunately, it is not possible and I had to delete all the animations……. Man I should’ve been smarter and tested it for a few slides first before going all in but it’s OK! I guess that’s part and parcel of the start-up life! Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.

This week is going to be exciting with lots of submissions from the various modules but ya let’s go!

P.S; I fulfilled a duty and bought coffee for my team during their work for assignment 1 so Prof Ben can’t say that we can’t contribute much. HAHA. See you guys next week!