JOS Innovation Awards.

“If you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

It all began when I signed up for SP@Glints, an online talent recruitment and career discovery platform for youths and the co-founder Looi Qin En sent me an email asking if I would like to join a competition called the JOS Innovation Awards. All it required was a simple 2000 word proposal and I could stand a chance to win $5000, so I thought to myself why not? I formed a team with a close friend of mine from the Diploma in Mechatronics and Robotics (DMRO) and submitted our proposal.

Little did we know, we were part of the 20+ teams out of 80+ submissions that were shortlisted for the semi-finals and then required to head down to the JOS office for a short presentation. This was also the time I was introduced to Mr Joe by Mr Chee who taught me about LoRa, mobile app development and IoT which helped in my prototyping of the product. We then cleared the semi-finals and headed to the finals as the top 9 teams where we were the only first year polytechnic students while the rest were mostly final year university students.

On the day of the finals, I was forced out of my naive mindset and saw for myself how drastic the difference was in the way university students presented themselves as well as the quality of content they used. I was also completely in awe by the quality of their ideas and solutions and how developed they were. We were completely defeated and could barely compare to the other 8 teams. Though I was feeling quite down and lost all hope of winning any of the prizes, I still saw it as inspiration and an opportunity to learn from all the people who were better than me and improve myself for the better.

Since the competition had the word ‘innovation’ in it, you would expect it to be more of an engineering and innovation competition which was what I did. But boy was I surprised when everyone else was focusing on their business model and financial projections rather than the actual solution and it was then when I realized that most of the judges were also businessmen.

One key takeaway I got from the competition was that I should always tweak my presentation to accommodate for who I’m presenting to. If I’m presenting to engineers, I should be more technical in my presentation, if I’m presenting to businessmen, I should focus more on the money making and if I’m presenting to the Government, I should focus on how my solution benefits the people.

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