Covid-19 has been a catalyst for change, birthing unprecedented cross-industry collaboration. From perfume companies producing hand sanitizer to luxury hotels becoming quarantine centers, and to car part makers producing masks, the scale and speed of innovation ushered in by Covid-19 has been staggering.
Companies are racing to not only recover from the sudden disruption to business as usual, but to reinvent themselves and build resilience against future shocks. Skills once valued for strategic innovation are now considered by employers as essential for survival – including design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
By 2025, entrepreneurship will be the most sought-after skill by employers, according to HR professionals.
– Mercer Global Talent Trends Report 2020
At ASB, we are skilling our students for the future of work. Drawing on MIT’s Action Learning pedagogy, students spend up to a third of the curriculum on-site with corporate and startup host partners throughout Asia and beyond.
For full-time MBA students, the program culminates in a final Action Learning Entrepreneurship Trek where they will ideate, prototype, and pitch their own new product or service business, guided by ASB’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.
The Action Learning Entrepreneurship Trek: Methodology
The Entrepreneurship Trek is broken into 4 steps:
Human-centric approach to problem and opportunity identification.
Understanding the problem and looking for potential solutions using design thinking
Building simple physical or software prototypes
Product and Business Model Pitch
Pitching the minimum viable product (MVP) including evaluation of financial potential and strategies for commercialization using compelling storytelling
Tools and Resources
In addition to the core curriculum for the Entrepreneurship trek outlined above, students were able to tap into the following resources to hone their skills:
Crash courses in critical skills: From design thinking and critical thinking to Arduino, 3D modelling and printing, and Flutter and Guide for app development.
FabLabKL: A trademarked space providing software and equipment including 3D printers and laser cutters to bring ideas to life and create viable prototypes.
An entrepreneurial community: Ranging from angel investors and VCs to early-stage entrepreneurs, including ASB alumni to guide and inspire students.
Customer survey tools: Qualtrics survey software and guidance on survey design.
Regular touchpoint sessions: Panel, advising and reflection sessions are incorporated as a check-point for students to get feedback and direction.
Entrepreneurship club: This student-led club organizes initiatives and events allowing students to build a wider entrepreneurial network.
“The Action Learning experience has been a great way to test ideas in a safe environment. Feedback from faculty, judges, and fellow classmates have been very helpful in this journey.”
-Hrishi Eathakota, MBA Student
The 2020 Entrepreneurship Trek culminated in a showcase of 8 innovative and ground-breaking student projects, including a storytelling app to connect socially-distanced grandparents with their beloved grandchildren, an AI-driven platform designed for blind jobseekers using videos and keyword recognition to help them stand out to prospective employers, and a stereotype-shattering skincare product designed for Asian men’s needs.
Reimagining Malaysian cultural patterns through batik-centric lifestyle products that invoke national pride and heritage
Malaysian Batik is losing prominence and perceived to be unfashionable and expensive. Chorak aims to increase consumption of Batik as daily attire, raise awareness of Batik as Malaysia’s national heritage, and grow the local batik industry.
A mobile app that allows you to store and share your medical records anytime, anywhere
Medibook is a mobile app that allows storing and sharing of medical records anytime, anywhere. It is designed specifically for expatriates and frequent travellers who may not able to store and access their medical records conveniently.
Building an authentic Vietnamese coffee experience in Malaysia
Vietphin is bringing the full unique Vietnamese coffee experience to Malaysia. We incorporate an authentic Vietnamese ambience and high-quality Vietnamese Robusta coffee as the ultimate elements for customers to experience.
A jigsaw puzzle membership service for stressed-out adults, designed with sustainability, connection and ergonomic comfort in mind
Puzzle Peace is a jigsaw puzzle membership service for stressed-out adults, designed with sustainability, connection and ergonomic comfort in mind. The unique magnetic puzzle pieces and board are space efficient and allow working at any angle, alleviating back and neck pain while solving challenging puzzles.
Developing an all-in-one tinted moisturizer with natural looking coverage for Asian men
MANCEALER addresses the lack of existing cosmetic products in the market that provide natural coverage for Asian skin tones. MANCEALER developed an all-in-one tinted moisturizer with natural looking coverage for Asian men.
Solving unemployment for blind and visually impaired people
BlindIn.co is a digital platform that allows blind or visually impaired job seekers to showcase their capabilities and gain visibility in the job market through video resumes. This solution allows employers to access talent while gaining greater awareness of this talent pool and achieving inclusion goals.
An interactive app for connecting grandparents with grandchildren through story-telling
Katha is bringing back the magical moments of grandma’s story time, incorporating video calls and storybooks in one interactive app. The app connects grandparents with grandchildren to spend more quality time together through storytelling.
Identifying a pocket-sized multi-functional lifestyle accessory (ProteKit) to help individuals decrease contact transmission of microbes
ProteKit is a practical, high quality, and convenient single solution to decrease direct contact with public objects, enabling you to protect your loved ones. The product is a lifestyle accessory designed specifically for health-conscious and fastidious working parents who would do anything to protect their precious family members.
“As an angel investor, I feel the teams really stand up compared to real-world pitching. In addition to that, they are very well prepared to answer questions.”
– Alan Lim, President, Malaysia Business Angels Network
Student and Ecosystem Impact
For MBA Students
- Hones CV-building entrepreneurial skills
- Provides a creative space and safe testing environment to design, prototype, and launch
- Enables hands-on, collaborative learning by solving real problems
- Builds empathy and ability to navigate complexity
For Corporate Ecosystem
- Brings innovative thinking into the workplace
- Prepares employees for disruption in business
- Nurtures innovation and Intrapreneur* mindsets
For Startup and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
- Supports and nurtures the grassroots community through exchange of ideas
- Develops potential future entrepreneurs