The pair of startups were among 10 shortlisted startups who were invited to present their pitches earlier today to a panel of judges. Airfrov is a peer-to-peer delivery platform allowing travellers to bring back overseas products for other users for a fee, while Ambi Climate is an artificial intelligence-driven algorithm that automatically adjusts air-conditioners for optimal temperatures according to the user’s preferences and the environment.
After learning the results and receiving a SG$20,000 (US$14,000) cheque — reward for each of the two winners — on stage, Li Cai, Co-founder and CEO of Airfrov, said, “This $20,000 for a startup at our stage is extremely crucial. It’s definitely going to help us a lot. Why we join is also to open doors for us to expand because we believe in collaboration.”
Cai revealed he has plans to use the funds for marketing and the development of an Android version of Airfrov, which currently runs on iOS and as a web-based platform.
Standing out from amongst the 10 startups required preparation.
“Everyday, for the past few weeks, I’ve been practising my pitch and refining my pitch deck,” said Cai, who also shared a serendipitious moment from his presentation. He had told an anecdote about an expecting woman who used Airfrov’s service to obtain a particular brand of cookies from Hong Kong without realising an expecting woman happened to also be on the panel of judges. Upon finding out, Cai promptly offered the expecting woman the same cookies, some of which he had brought along with him.
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Fellow winners Ambi Climate, based in Hong Kong, are experienced players on the pitching circuit, having won the People’s Choice Award at the Echelon Asia Summit 2014 and the pitch competition at the Rise Conference earlier this year.
“It’s always very nerve-wracking. Fortunately, for us, our story has been very well-received,” said Co-founder and CEO Julian Lee, who only arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning and had only three-and-a-half hours of sleep. “I took the opportunity here to pop over to JB (Johor Bahru) to buy some remote controls for [their] compatibility in the region. A little tired but I think it’s been great.”
Besides the monetary reward, Airfrov and Ambi Climate will both also get the opportunity to compete against 12 finalists from six other similar competitions organised by Singtel’s affiliates in Africa, Australia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The final will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The grand winner will have Singtel’s help in bringing its product to market and enjoy access to Singtel’s network of 550 million subscribers in 25 countries.
“That will be very exciting because my main competitor (for the business) in the region — Bistip — is actually in Jakarta. We’re now going to their home base to pitch so we must show the judges why we’re even better,” said Cai.