5 December 2016 – An IMU Pharmacy alumna, Tee Ai Ven, won the Axiata Young CEO Development Programme (YCDP) Digital Business Project 2016. As the team leader of WeddingEasy, she led her team of 7 to victory after an 11-week long journey.
“We were astounded by the winning announcement and hugged each other with overwhelming joy.”
The winning team was awarded RM7, 000 as a reward for their relentless hard work. They had to pitch their proposal to a tough and reputable panel of judges, which consisted of Sajith Sivanandan, Managing Director of Google, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and New Emerging Markets; Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of Enterprise Development Consulting, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC); Datin Seri Badrunnisa Mohd Yasin Khan, Group Chief Talent Officer of Axiata Group Berhad; and Khairil Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of Axiata Digital Services Sdn Bhd. Ai Ven’s team came out tops in the challenge with their WeddingEasy digital business project proposal, a startup with an integrated virtual wedding planning system and listings of local wedding vendors that caters to a particular market segment. “Our raw idea started from event planning in general, but once we did our market validation and further market surveys, we realised that there was a more niche and untapped market within the wedding events and the Malaysian Muslim segment.” Speaking on the different stages of the Digital Business Project challenge, Ai Ven said, “We had to pitch our individual ideas to AYTP judges. Out of 75 ideas, 10 were shortlisted. My “EventEasy” pitch was among the 10 shortlisted ideas that attracted interested participants who then voted to join as team members. From there, we embarked on our 11-week-journey (18 September 2016 to 4 December 2016) of hardship and sleepless nights throughout the project. Being the top 3 in the semi-final presentation at the end of the 11th week, we managed to proceed to the finals and won the judges over with our pitch.” It was not an easy feat for Ai Ven to lead this project as she had to juggle this between her multiple ongoing commitments – her full-time work as an Executive Assistant to the Managing Director of a nutraceutical company and her voluntary position as the marketing lead of Malaysian Innovative Healthcare Symposium (MIHS).
It was indeed a “commitment above commitments”, she quoted one of the YCDP participants.
Every Sunday, Ai Ven and her team had to submit deliverables regarding the project; which included identifying value proposition and unique selling proposition, carrying out market studies and market validation, creating adoption strategies, developing prototypes, designing user interface (UI) and usability testing research, producing financial projections, and much more. From ideation to materialising our prototype (with multiple pivoting in the process) and from being clueless to understanding how to create a sustainable business model. The journey has proven to be a steep learning curve for the team. “I was very new in the field of startup. Being inexperienced, I was glad to have a collaborative team who are willing to learn and bear with me throughout these 11 weeks. Shahbani (Ben), the designer on the team, was drawing UI designs for the platform on his bed despite being terribly sick. Daryl, the assistant leader, sacrificed his personal time after work to gather statistics, worked on market research and marketing strategies. Every team member contributed immensely, we could not have won this challenge without them. Also, not to mention our very helpful project coach, Siyan from Oil & Gas sector; and Axiata staff, Danial who were patiently guiding us and staying up till midnight working on this project with us”, said Ai Ven reflecting on the 11-week-journey. Reaching this achievement, the team will not rest on its laurels. The team had been working rigorously to bring this project to life by trying to secure pre-seeding investments. The current startup team consists of Tee Ai Ven (CEO), Muhammad Fairuz (COO), Austin Wong (CMO), Ng Beng Han (CTO), and a few other co-founding members. Young CEO Development Programme (YCDP) is a 3-year programme exclusive to Malaysians aged 20 to 25, a nation building initiative by Axiata Group which was established to nurture world-class game-changing CEOs of tomorrow.
Ai Ven is in the pioneer batch of this programme. Her batch consisted of 75 participants that were narrowed down from more than 6,300 entries over an intense selection process with an acceptance rate of 1.2%. They underwent four resident boot camps throughout extended weekends, various projects, and online modules; as well as personalised coaching and engagement sessions.
Congratulations to Ai Ven and her team!
Related article: Big win for CEOs in the making (The Star)