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Axiata’s Young CEOs Solve Real-World Start-Up Challenges In The Latest Digital Business Challenge Cohort

In a novel move, the Axiata Foundation shifted the direction of its Young CEO Development Programme (YCDP) by providing access to active Malaysian start-ups with real challenges to solve. This move was made possible by partnering with local venture capital firm and consultants, 1337 Ventures

Now in its sixth cohort,  the Digital Business Challenge (DBC) challenges participants to build and improve digital businesses in a world of IR4.0 and evolving technology. As the pioneer of Design Thinking in Malaysia, 1337 Ventures developed a bespoke programme using design thinking as its basis for the YCDP participants to solve challenges faced by three of its start-ups.

These start-ups were Finory, a fintech personal management app; Homegrown Farms, an agritech start-up providing vertical farming and use of IoT; and Foodbike, a social enterprise food and beverage service that aims to empower underprivileged communities with business opportunities. 

The programme started with a 4-day physical bootcamp, where each team had a chance to  interview the respective start-up founders to fact-find and empathise with their customers. Once they identified the “point-of-views” (aka problem statements) to solve, the programme progressed into an 8-week virtual mentorship. In this space, the  teams  completed the design thinking cycle to ideate solutions and built a prototype of their solutions. 

The final phase of the Digital Business Challenge culminated with each team pitching their solutions to Mr. Shasidharan Prapakaran, Head of Group Synergy & Digitisation, Axiata Group Berhad, and Mr. Bikesh Lakhmichand, CEO & Founding Partner of 1337 Ventures. The start-up founders were also present; Co-Founder of Finory, Mr. Kee Hui Jiang; Founder of Homegrown Farms, Mr. Micheal Simon; and Founder of Foodbike, Mr. Izat Izwan bin Idzian. 

All start-up co-founders were impressed with the solutions presented, as the teams were able to provide insights or explore ideas that hadn’t really been considered before. 

“It’s great to see the results of the programme, where you have these top talents essentially consult these start-ups for 8 weeks, giving the start-ups access to talent they wouldn’t otherwise have, and at the same time, providing the participants with access to real world digital business challenges. A win-win,” said Bikesh, who was very pleased with the programme outcome.

The winning team’s solution consisted of a business model reimagining and an AI-powered personal financial assistance that elevated Finory’s user experience.  

“It was a stiff competition and we are delighted to have won. As a team, YCDP taught us that it’s not about competing with each other but to leverage and learn from everyone’s strength and skills”, said team leader, Ms. Mira Mastura Binti Murkhalis.

Kee, as he is known, said the fresh ideas that were presented by the winners were “insightful, informative and helpful in better understanding Finory’s customers’ needs and wants”. He added that participating in Axiata’s YCDP was a “great opportunity for a start-up to meet tons of new talents”.

Second place’s solution is a systemised inventory management for Homegrown Farms, and third place proposed a brand awareness and recruitment strategy for Foodbike. A consolation was awarded to the team that provided digital infrastructure solutions to Homegrown Farms. 

If you or someone you know is a Malaysian aged 23 to 28 years old, and would benefit from Axiata’s YCDP Programme while seeking to shape the CEOs of tomorrow through communication, creativity, business acumen, ethics, and leadership skills visit, www.axiatayoungtalentprogramme.com/young-ceo-development-programme

1337 Ventures assists Malaysian corporations to drive innovation through bespoke programmes that are aligned with their business objectives. Contact us on info@1337.ventures to explore opportunities for corporate innovation.

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