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UTAR Wins First Prize at Regional Finals of ASB101K Entrepreneurship Competition

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The Ottermate Team won First Prize at the Regional Finals of the ASB101K Entrepreneurship Competition (Student Track), held on April 2. The team walked away with RM101,000 as the first prize win. The Ottermate Team consisted of two Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) students, namely, Faculty of Information and Communication Technology student (FICT) Wooi Zhuang Ru, Faculty of Business and Finance (FBF) student How Chao Xun; and Tunku Abdul Rahman University College student Tee Kuok Hin.

They were aided by UTAR alumnus Pang Chong Xian and FICT lecturer-cum-mentor Mr Tan Chiang Kang. Dr Lee Sheng Chyan from the Unovate Centre was appointed as the business mentor of Ottermate. The Ottermate is an incubatee of UTAR’s Unovate Centre. The ASB101K is an entrepreneurial competition, hosted by the Asia School of Business.

It brought together, in two different tracks, talented students and aspiring entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia to address current market challenges and opportunities through innovative technology-driven solutions. The competition had two tracks, namely Student Track and Start-up Track and it was open to all student teams from any discipline, and at any level of studies from any tertiary level institutions in South East Asia.

The semi-finals of the ASB101K Entrepreneurship Competition (Student Track) saw the participation of various universities from Southeast Asia, namely, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Asia School of Business (ASB), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), The University of Nottingham, Universiti Malaya (UM), Xiamen University Malaysia (XMU), Monash University Malaysia, Bandung Institute of Technology, Gadjah Mada University, North Sumatera University, Mapúa University, Batangas State University, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Quest International University, Sunway University, Multimedia University Cyberjaya (MMU), Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), HELP University, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Tunku Abdul Rahman University College and UTAR.

Prior to the final competition, Top 12 teams from Student Track and Top 12 teams from the Startup Track advanced to the semi-finals. From among the top 12 semi-finalists, four teams were selected to participate in the finals. The Ottermate team from UTAR was selected as one of the four finalist teams for the Student Track.

The Ottermate is an innovative social media business enabler that provides an all-in-one live commerce management solution for retail live streamers. It provides an accessible, user-friendly, and hands-off approach to order management, built with social media sales in mind. “The original idea came from my family members who owned Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and ran them traditionally over the years but were forced to transition to online business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ottermate started as a simple solution to a personal problem, but we eventually found its potential for growth. And that is how we are here today,” said Wooi, who is the Team Leader-cum-Founder of Ottermate. “We really learnt a lot of things along the way. In the beginning, we learnt that being genuine is the most valuable asset; any situation or status can be a strength.

Besides that, we also learnt about how important it is to get advice and iterate over ideas; a sentence can be said in many different ways but getting the concept down can be a very tedious process. I really value the input from external people, be it mentors or even my parents. Putting ourselves out there, asking for feedback, and listening to advice helped us a lot in understanding our product and how the public perceives our product.

We were also able to anticipate the potential questions we would get during the Q&A,” she added. Speaking of the challenges the team faced during the competition, she said, “I’d say our biggest challenge was that we went in blind. We weren’t a team filled with seasoned entrepreneurs or competition goers with the aim to win.

Personally, as the team leader, since I am not from a business background, I felt very inadequate initially, especially in the first two rounds while creating the decks and documents. But over the course of the competition, because of the overwhelming support from our team as well as our mentors from both UTAR and ASB101K, we eventually found our groove.”

Wooi enthused, “We feel great, but also very stunned at the same time, we are just so happy to be a part of this rather unique experience and inspiring event. We really owe a lot to our mentors, who guided us one step at a time. Our team really took their advice to heart, pulling long nights and drinking a lot of coffee while doing so. We are so glad that our work has been recognised and we were able to get so far.

I’m personally very grateful that I got to meet so many talented people and learn so much from both peers and judges. The whole experience was surreal and I’m very excited for the future.” “This was truly a team effort. Each one of our team members worked very hard to write a compelling business document and prepare for our Q&A. This applies to our mentors from ASB101K and UTAR Unovate Centre as well.

We are really grateful they took time out of their day and helped us talk through our business idea and find answers to difficult questions,” she said and added, “We were very lucky to get Mr Fabian Boegershausen as our mentor for ASB101K. He helped us with our business calculations and he went above and beyond to bring his expertise to the table. I’d say we definitely could not have done it without him.”

When asked about the team’s plans for the future, she replied, “Well, we are planning to launch Ottermate after going for a Series A seed round. This prize money that we won will allow us to scale our team and speed up development, so the majority of it will go into that. Besides that, I’m splitting a small portion of the money amongst the team since they have been pivotal in us winning. They deserve to see some prize money for bearing with me constantly on our way to the finals.”

UTAR President Ir Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat sent his heartiest congratulations to the Ottermate Team, Unovate Centre and FICT for their combined efforts which resulted in this amazing achievement at the regional level for Ottermate. The team’s mentor Tan has some advice for other aspiring students, “To get the most out of such competition, they must be proactive.

We, as mentors, and the Unovate Centre can show them the door, link them up to opportunities, and help guide and prepare them, but ultimately they will be the ones doing the business pitching. The vibes of the competition can be intimidating, as there will be strong competition from others, with some even more experienced, or with better business ideas.

So, students need to stay focused, do their groundwork, and be as prepared as they can be. If they have done that, even if they don’t win anything, the experience will still be invaluable in their startup journey.” Another team from UTAR named Quadrifoglio also made it to the Top 50 of the competition in Round 1.

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This article was originally published on Business Today