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!

Week 2

Week 2 lesson:

We were introduced to the job scope of programmers and non-programmers in a working team and I must say that the programming side looks really challenging. I feel that each department have their own challenges and it might be difficult to understand the situation on either side. As they say, the grass is always green on the other side. However, for the first assignment, the workload is surely heavier on the programmers’ side and the boys have been putting in lots of hours; even burning the mid night oil. Thus, I got to do a good job in terms of user feedback and marketing when the application is near to its launch date! And not to worry as marketing is actually already on-going😉

Framing up key features and validating concept idea with users:

For this week, my focus is on validating the idea with users. The problem we want to solve is to help exchange students find other exchange students who are going to the same university. Thus, I have done face to face feedback with ~20 students on whether this is an application that they would use before their exchange.

I feel that face to face feedback would be better than online surveys at the start so that we can understand what customer really wants (for the features) and build an application that will suit their needs. The response has been positive thus far with all interviewed students wanting to use the application when it is launched.

Looking forward to more developments this week and once we are functional, it’s time to get hands on!

Week 1

The journey begins.

It all started with an introduction by Dr Collin about his life moments and his near death experiences. He is an adventurous young man and it reminded me about my Exchange Program adventures when he talked about his unique travel experiences, except that I did not get charged and ramp by a bull.

Following which, we formed groups and I was in a group with 3 other year 2s. They might only be year 2s but they have years of coding experience and I admire their determination to pick up and follow through these sophisticated language during their free time.

Biz kids never felt so wanted before because most of the startup competition that I joined were full of non-technical people unlike this course where non-technical people are like the endangered animals.

We met up soon after our group is confirmed and discussed about the ideas that we could work on. Knowing that I was involved in a project that aims to improve the lives of exchange students around the world, my group thought of creating a Facebook App to further improve the lives of exchange students. We came up with a lot of ideas and thought about its feasibility of completing it in 4 weeks before deciding. Want to know more? Keep a lookout for our updates and join us in improving this application. Let the new application do the talking J.

As I could not help much in the back-end and the technical aspect, I will be heading the project management role, research and test the features and do the documentation so that the guys can focus on building the app that gives values to exchange students.

That’s all for this week folks, Ciao!

The prelude to CS3216

“What do you hope to learn in CS3216?”

Mannnnnnn, I’m pretty sure most of us would have gotten strike by some sort of Pikachu electric bolt when we received the “Welcome” email from CS3216 coordinator, Dr Colin Tan. My initial reaction was “Whoa siao sia GG , no life…. “. Oh yes, the requirements do look daunting but well, I guess the rewards wouldn’t be as fulfilling if there aren’t any hardships yep!

I look forward to this challenging module because we can get to learn and experience practical skills and scenarios that would be relevant to us who intend to start something. “Something” what is this something? Well you’ll find out as the course progresses. Speaking of that, I would hope to take our project to the next level if there is REAL potential in it and I hope that my team will be keen to follow through it too!

After trying 2 projects in the past – which didn’t succeed – and learning from friends who have succeeded in their businesses, my greatest learning point is that most success stories revolved around the team. It is important for the team to have a common goal and an aligned vision. Honesty, trust, team efficiency plays an integral role as well. Definitely, we cannot overlook team dynamics and that is what make projects fun. The people we work together with, the sacrifices gone through together, and the milestones conquered together. These experiences define the process and thus, through my little experiences, here are some skills which I hope to learn and become a better team player.

  1. Work efficiently in a complete team, a team with technical and non-technical expertise. (work place efficiency, communication)
    1. What is the most efficient workflow practice?
    2. How to communicate well with people from different field of expertise?
  2. Acquiring the first 25,000 users (user acquisition)
    1. How to build a massive inflow of traffic?
    2. How to get up the organic search in Google?
    3. SEO?
    4. How to get maximum outreach with minimal cost?
  3. The first $1 profit (sales)
    1. I always believe that a business needs to be sustainable, regardless of whether it’s a profitable or non-profitable organization. It is important for survival and progression.
    2. They say that money is the root of all evil but I think that the real evil isn’t money, but rather the greed for money which is the real evil.
  4. Digital marketing
    1. Effective social media management – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter?
    2. Email marketing?
  5. Understand the concept of coding

Yeap! These are the 5 pointers that I hope to learn. Of course there are more things that I would love to learn but I guess it would be more effective to prioritize them if not I will just get nowhere.

Looking forward to the journey ahead! Bye peeps!