Ryoka: HEX Discovery/ Virtual Innovation APAC Program (November 2020)

The HEX Discovery Asia-Pacific program (APAC) was an eye-opening experience. The programme is a startup experience to prepare for the demo day, which is to present in front of real investors around the world. It may start early in the morning, depending on where you are currently located, but it is definitely worth waking up and joining via Zoom. Every day, we have travelled virtually to a country, talked to business founders, and learned about the ecosystem. We went to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore. Not only discovering the country, but it was also a great experience to build connections through LinkedIn after the session.

HEX also offered us mentoring sessions at least once a day, and we had opportunities to ask questions about our business ideas individually to those who have experience in our fields of interest. I have talked with mentors who have backgrounds in journalism, technology, management, finance and so on. They all gave me supportive advice and also fun casual chats.

The contents of HEX was practical in terms of building the business idea and creating a prototype. At first, I did not have any clear idea of what I wanted to do, but through an ideation session and talking to mentors; it became much clearer. No one had denied anyone’s idea, and I think that was the best part of HEX. Some of the cohorts have already graduated from universities or already have experiences in startups, so not everyone was in the same boat. But everyone was very interactive and supportive of each other, such as giving tips on digital marketing. I had never created an actual website and had no idea on how to create the prototype at first; though, of course, HEX had a few sessions teaching us how to do it. This programme is not only about building an idea but also gaining various skills to use in the future.

A difficulty I found was that doing everything by myself. I have experience in a startup during high school, but I had a team. So whenever I had ideas, I could talk with them and gain new perspectives for the business. On the other hand, creating businesses individually also allowed us to do whatever we want. If we were in a team, we might allocate the tasks and focus on the task, which may limit the learning. Everything was new for me to do by myself, both doing input and output helped me to understand how to create a sustainable startup- market validation, financial estimated plan, and pitching.

I recommend future students to leave the two weeks blank with no plan, I was doing another internship at the same time with HEX, and it was a bit stressful. I think it was such a valuable experience to gain insights and build connections for the future. I hope future students also to enjoy what HEX offers!

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