After months of preparation, the first Antler cohort is finally in full force in Singapore. It has been an intensive 120 hours as we introduced our 62 founders to the program, each other, and ran through key topics and exercises that broke down barriers in getting to know each other. These sessions were formatted with the intention of bringing out different personalities and working styles, through a range of high and low pressure settings. There was a variety of light-hearted icebreaker sessions to intensive product building hackathons. Lots of laughter, chatter and hard work ensued. Here, we’ve put together a little roundup of our first-ever week!
The Antler program welcomed its first cohort at Recognize Studios on July 2nd. Our CEO and founder, Magnus Grimeland, kicked off the day with an inspiring welcome address. He shared about his personal experiences and journey to getting where he is today. He touched on the value of a positive mindset and the type of personality it takes to power through the challenges faced in starting up your own business. The importance of possessing the right amounts of drive and tenacity and not giving up.
“Anyone can build great businesses. It is important to keep going, learning and improving along the way and maintaining that drive to not give up.”
Guest of Honour, Edwin Chow, from Enterprise SG further highlighted the day, elaborating on how the Singapore landscape is primed for aspiring, young companies. He shared some valuable insights into the Singapore government’s support for new startups and businesses ideas, lightly touching on the different grants and funding available for these purposes.
The rest of the day was spent getting to know the founders as each was tasked to share a 3-minute presentation on what they hope to achieve, what they are fanatical about and what makes them tick. The excitement in the air was palpable as founders made copious notes on what everyone had to say. The formation of dream teams was already in motion!
Capping off the speakers for the day, Tim Rath, co-founder of Lazada sat down for a chat with Magnus, describing his incredible professional journey and emphasising the importance of building good teams with good people. His candid anecdotes resonated strongly with the crowd. The night wrapped up with drinks at Antler’s brand new offices on Anson Road.
We started with a rigorous speed dating session which set the right the tone and energy for the day. The cohort was split into static and mobile groups and each founder got to meet a minimum of 25 people. The continuous swapping of partners made the interaction incredibly vibrant.
The founders then jumped into the first of many hackathons, where they created an IOT solution to create a “home away from home”. The brief was to think of how to assimilate to different environments and have all the comforts and services available to you anywhere in the world. The inspiration for this was in the cross-section of travel and IOT through a survey which found that these were two most pressing topics when considering room for innovation.
Some pitches were emotional like the one for baby monitors for working families, while some wanted to make digital windows in cabins for oil riggers. The length and breadth of the experience behind the ideas were certainly impressive.
Anh Nguyen set the ball rolling for the day. She shared a unique triangulation storytelling framework to help founders prepare pitches and introductions. Her emphasis on storytelling left a mark on the founders and the high adrenaline interaction helped them bond and understand each other better.
“Think through the sequencing of information and emotions that you want to trigger in or deliver to your audience in order to achieve maximum impact for any presentation”
Anh helped each founder present themselves clearly and effectively to a crowd and offered some useful advice. Emphasis was placed on the need to relate to any audience and capture their attention by giving them the idea that you’re doing something for them. Each speaker should list down key points that you want the audience to take away at the end of a speech and focus on those key deliverables in the intro, explanation and conclusion.
“If you push yourself, it’ll happen over time. Keep learning and improving”
The second part of the day revolves around having a refreshing and honest discussion on VCs with TJ, founder of data protection company, Avepoint. He shared about his career journey in transitioning from academia to startups and had a real heartfelt conversation on his personal struggles. Having witnessed 9/11 first hand while working on Wall Street in New York, TJ realised his desire to do something more with his life. This ignited a passion within him for the startup world and in helping to develop business ideas for the betterment of societies.
After a round of getting to know each other better, our founders were tasked to pick their teammates to build a new product concept at our first business hackathon. Teams were tasked to create an app based platform which could be scaled to a billion users in a month. Ideas ranged from group gift-giving apps to remote platforms for elderly care. The short preparation time was not an issue for the founders who had elaborate wireframes and designed logos ready to wow the panel. The questions and feedback from the judges were a definite value-add to the exercise. The panel leveraged their extensive experience to share insights across industries. The winning company was Roam, a customisable travel guide app which crowdsources travel tips from your network of travellers with similar interest. They impressed the judges with a well-articulated pitch, great brand storytelling and an overall well thought-out concept.
John Fitzpatrick, Head of Startup Program at Google, started things off with a talk on the Startup Program, particularly their offering for Antler. He shared how Google Cloud can be tapped into as a resource by all members and resulting teams from the cohort.
Teams then spent the afternoon invaluable one-on-one sessions with their coaches from the Antler team. A process which will take place and develop further throughout the coming months with the aim of helping the personal growth and development of each founder.
It has been a great and informative first week and we couldn’t be happier to have such an amazing group of talents onboard with us this first cohort. We look forward to seeing what comes out of the next few weeks.