SMU students shine at the inaugural Singapore Valley Awards

9 Apr 2018

Four SMU students – out of nine in total – have been selected to intern with China’s leading technology companies from April/May 2018 for a period of three months.

The nine winners of the Singapore Valley Awards (SVA) were chosen from a pool of 79 applicants from all six of Singapore’s Autonomous Universities, following two days of intensive pitch sessions last December to a panel of 10 judges from Asian technology and venture capital firms.

Jackson Kwa Jian Hui and Kevin Toh, final-year students at the School of Information Systems and Lee Kong Chian School of Business respectively, will both undertake their internships at Alibaba Group. Alina Chua, who graduated last year, will be doing her internship at GGV Capital; while Huang Peng Fei, a final-year student in the SUTD-SMU Dual Degree Programme in Technology and Management, will be going to for his internship.

The Singapore Valley Awards is an annual entrepreneurship award organised by S-Valley Ltd that offers students with the most compelling business ideas, a fully-sponsored internship in China for the acquisition of a deeper knowledge of the China market and entrepreneurships in practice. The SVA is seeded through S$3.35 million funding from five China-centric entrepreneurs – Mr Pang Sheng Dong, Mr Eddie Wu, Mr James Sheng, Mr Wang Yue, and Mr Calvin Cheng.

Jackson Kwa – founder of TechSociey

Jackson Kwa founded TechSociety in 2013 to impart next generation tech survival, new age computing and tech entrepreneurial skills to children and young people to transform them from mere tech consumers to tech creators. It does so by making technology and entrepreneurship fun, engaging and accessible. Computing theories and technology are infused with business knowledge. This is achieved through its teaching methodology that marries elements of theatre and gamification to engage its students in whole-brain learning.

In 2016, TechSociety received support from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Seeds for the Future, which is former U.S President Barack Obama’s signature programme for the region’s most promising youth leaders to carry out projects that improve their communities, countries and the region. Also in 2016, Jackson was the national champion of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) Singapore round, and represented Singapore at the regional finals held in Hong Kong, as well as the global finals held in Thailand.

TechSociety has successfully reached out to more than 1000 students in Asia including Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam. In Singapore, TechSociety mainly works with primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions to drive technology education.

Speaking about the award and his upcoming internship, Jackson said “I am really honoured to receive the award to intern at Alibaba. This award is definitely an encouragement for me to continue my efforts to excel in entrepreneurship. Although the award is given out to individuals, it does not just belong to that one person. It is a recognition of the remarkable team of peers that had journeyed together with me.

“Alibaba and its success story has always been my inspiration in entrepreneurship, I am very excited to be able to experience that inspiration in person! During my internship, I hope to experience China's rapid development and broaden my horizons, expand my knowledge and immerse myself in the entrepreneurial ecosystem over there. Such an opportunity will allow me to learn from leading tech companies in China, understand their business model, and most importantly how to develop products for the needs of a large number of users. I truly believe that I could learn and give so much back to the startup community and beyond when I return.”

Kevin Toh - founder of Hatchme

Hatchme is the first smart job portal in the Asia Pacific that uses artificial intelligence to match candidates directly to the right job opportunities. Its technology projects the suitability of each candidate against each job position based on their skills, strengths and personality, effectively offering recruitment agency capabilities at a lower cost.

To date, Hatchme has 500 companies onboard and has successfully matched 300 young job seeks with jobs in the six months since it was launched.

Hatchme has also won various awards, most notably as one of the winners of K-startup Grand Challenge, a prestigious incubation programme and award given by the Korean government to only 50 out of 1,300 businesses around the world. Kevin was also recently recognised as the a top student entrepreneur of the nation as winner of the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards.

Kevin shared, “I'm grateful to be given this recognition and more importantly, the opportunity to intern at Alibaba Group. Jack Ma is probably the idol of most entrepreneurs, and I am excited to learn from his success and to apply these lessons to my upcoming venture, Jobsumo, which is a trust-based job marketplace based on blockchain, and to develop myself as a person.”

Alina Chua – founder of Learning Sprint

Alina graduated from SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business in 2017.

Learning Spirit believes in the vision of “Real Education” – one where learning is truly value-adding, effective and borderless. The company is a one-stop education platform for virtual learning. It allows for teaching to happen anytime, anywhere by connecting tutors and students through an online classroom. It hopes to constantly explore and push the boundaries of education technology to bring tutors, students and parents closer together to create real change.

The company is currently pilot testing with a small group of tutors and have impacted over 30 students thus far.

Said Alina, “To be a recipient of the Singapore Valley Awards, I’m humbled and grateful to all those who supported me, one way or another, along this journey. There has never been a more opportune time for Singaporeans to venture into China and the conceivers of the Singapore Valley Awards has just paved the way for us. Under the guidance of industry veterans, I’m certain my internship with GGV Capital will provide me with deeper insights into the exciting world of Venture Capital. Beyond the internship, I hope one day to share my experience and learnings with my peers at SMU.”

To prepare for their internships, the winners travelled to China on 18 January 2018 to meet the participating companies to discuss placement opportunities in detail.

During the trip, Kevin and Jackson realised a deep lack of trust in China’s business ecosystem as one of the limiting factors to the growth of a business and country, and that this problem, while most prevalent in China, is also an issue in Southeast Asia. As a result, Kevin and Jackson are currently working to launch their new product aimed to put candidate’s credentials and educational content on the blockchain respectively.

Kevin’s new product - Jobsumo - is the world’s first trust-based job marketplace based on blockchain. Unlike traditional job marketplaces, Jobsumo will enable candidates to build a Trusted Talent Profile™ by verifying their credentials through biometrics, documentations, experts and our incentivised community, in the process solving the problem of candidate fraud and exaggeration. The company will be a pivot from his current venture Hatchme.

Jackson’s new product - ToshIndex – is a knowledge marketplace that aims to connect users to quality educational content in the Emerging Technologies Industry (i.e. blockchain, Smart Contract, AI, etc). This platform features a new way of rewarding users for engaging in e-learning and/or sharing domain expertise. Jackson has also established a channel to 20,000 potential users through Telegram.

Both Jobsumo and ToshIndex will be fundraising through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) later this year, and both companies already have early support from private investors.


Last updated on 9 Apr 2018.

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