I had been staying in Cyberjaya for the past few days for a competition that I submitted an application for on 17th November 2014 called SUPERB (Skim Usahawan Permulaan Bumiputera or Startup Scheme for Malaysian Natives). So, this post would be about me living in a completely new environment and I would like to apologize first and foremost about the lack of food blogging in this post. I was so nervous about going to the final that I can barely muster my appetite. I was literally shoving food in my mouth just for energy and good health.
Let us start with the place where all the magic happens, pun intended. The competition takes place at MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation Center). Launched by DS Najib, the current Prime Minister of Malaysia and Barack Obama back in April. I can see it fast becoming the Silicon Valley of Malaysia, housing co-working space and hosting so many events authored for entrepreneurship. I feel like I found the kind of place that I can work in. It was very accommodating and kudos to the SUPERB management team by hosting the competition there. Although the AC could be a bit tad lower in temperature. Sweaters, jackets, and cardigans are recommended before entering the building.
My business idea, “Kitchen-For-Rent” qualifies to the semi final stage and we were offered this 3-day pitching coaching session by SUPERB. Having never actually perfected my pitching skill, I decided to participate in the coaching classes. I did not exactly leave my house on a good note, though. One of my cat, Chelipi (pronounced like Sleepy) had a small incident the previous week and had been limping on and off ever since. I brought her to the vet to get it checked and thankfully it was only a sprain. She was subscribed some med and advised to rest. Something I was worried she might not be getting the whole time I was not at home. I have my sister who can feed her but not the supervision she might need. So, Chelipi was always in the back of my mind the whole time I was at MaGIC, together with my six other cats.
But life must goes on and I had to convince myself that she would do just fine. I am here at MaGIC to win the grant RM500k offered by SUPERB and finally get a kickstart on this business idea.
The total participants that advanced to the semi final round are 97. Some of them are returning participants from the previous 3 quarters of SUPERB. Most of them have all started a company and have a business running. Being one of the young and green participants there was enough to make me want to vomit out of nerves. We were divided into 4 groups, each to a coach. I enrolled myself in Coach Rik’s class with 21 other participants.
I was basically sticking to my roommate, Kak Fizah (we were assigned the same room at the hotel) at the beginning of the class. Kak Fizah’s company, MEDYNA is running a physiotherapy center in Kedah. With the grant she is hoping to grow her business and provide better care for the elders who are her main clients. We were sat on a desk with Kak Aten of Athene Spice Kitchen. I am already planning on getting her Lemon Lime Pepper Salt spice mix retailing at Publika for my salad. I can be quite lazy sometimes to the point that I would just eat tomatoes raw instead of going through measuring my olive oil and vinegar and squeezing the lemon. Yes, foodies are people too, haha.
We first went through introduction session as usual. All of them came from diverse backgrounds, medical, advertising, F&B, architecture, clothing, and so on. Each of their ideas have values and impact to the society provided that they have the grant to execute their ideas. We were also introduced to Coach Sam who are assisting Coach Rik for the class. He had been a participant and finalist for the past Quarter 2 and 3 and it was good to have a second opinion from a former participant’s perspective.
We were then told to attend a separate event that was held at MaGIC. Basically we just have to listen to speeches from several entrepreneurs and one of them is a previous winner of Quarter 1 of SUPERB. Not all of them are great talks though but one in particular was the “best in the world” (again, pun intended). The talk was given by Razif Hashim and in all seriousness, I think the whole crowd in the auditorium would agree with me in unison. I am going to be honest and tell you that I only knew about Razif Hashim several days before that day. Yes, I am that generation who do not watch TV anymore, lol. I found out about him several days ago because I was searching for the TV show, Percutian Bajet (was it?) that I had watched way back when just for the research purpose for this blog.
He captured my attention in the first minute of his talk when he made a reference to Harry Potter. Yeay, Potterheads! He is also an actor and it seems so easy for him to capture the attention of the whole crowd just like that, which is what his talk was all about. Then he asked for some volunteers to come on the stage to help him demonstrate how talking in front of the crowd can be made a whole lot better just with a little tweaks. And guess what? I decided to volunteer myself to the front because I figured what is the worst that could happen. I came here to win RM500k grant. I have got nothing to lose. But that spirit still did not translate into my public speaking and Razif Hashim just swished and flicked his wand and my public speaking skill improved just like how Hermione’s feather flew. He asked the crowd to rate me and some even rated me 8 out of 10!
And the rest of the day just went on like the next 2 days. We all worked on our presentation skills and improving our presentation slides. I would like to apologize to all my fellow classmates and coaches for not mingling as much that I would have liked to. I was so worried about my performance later on that now I regretted not knowing more about all these wonderful people who supported each other throughout the competition. I will definitely keep in touch with each and every one of them in the future.
And the day of the Semi Final presentation came. I was scheduled to present at 2.45 pm. I came for the registration for the morning session anyway and figured I would do better being surrounded by the tension in the air rather than being taken aback by it if I isolated myself in the hotel room until the presentation. Plus, I got my own eye candy in the waiting room. Sambil menyelam minum air, kiki.
I went over all the advises that Coach Rik and Sam had given me over the three days in my head. The wait was nerve wrecking. When it was finally time for me to do it, I figured I would just wing it and hopes that everything that I learned in the past few days would subconsciously be applied by my body and brain. It was quite hard for me to keep in tune with reality when there was so many things to be aware of. I didn’t even know how long I was in the presentation room. I did screwed up on one very important question during the Q&A. But the minute I finished and walked out of that room, I found myself in glee. The struggle I have been having inside my brain was finally over. I can finally have a peace of mind until the result announcement tomorrow.
The next day I walk into MaGIC as quite a different person. I was able to take in more of my surroundings and I get to know about my friends there a little bit better. I tried not to think about the result that will be announced in the evening and have fun at this wonderful place as best as I can. We had a talk by the famous and respectable Dr. Haji Fadzilah Kamsah.
His talk was both inspiring and funny at the same time. Learned a lot just from his talk. A very humble man too. He insisted people to call him Haji instead of Doctor.
I am going to break it to you anyway but I did not get into the next round. I did get my hope high, convinced I did enough to get myself through but seeing all the finalists who went on the stage as their advancement was acknowledged, I realized that the judges made the right call. All of their ideas are amazing and they deserve to be up there. I can only hope that I can achieve half of what what they had accomplished in their lives one day. This also does not mean the end of my dream kitchen. I have learned some of what I need to know in order to realize my idea into the physical world. I hope that my ramblings here will inspire other entrepreneurs out there to achieve their dream and realize that there are so many channels out there that they can go through for free. Stop coming up with excuses and take the first step today. The next Quarter of SUPERB will start next year. Register yourself and do not shy away from asking friends and families for help.