It is a long way to go from a initial idea to a product that can enter the market and create revenue. To guide our teams, Enactus created the Accelerator Programme.
The Enactus Accelerator is a 6-month programme designed to support Enactus project teams in accelerating the execution of their projects - validation, creating and testing minimum viable product, and finding the product-market fit. Through this process, teams will also learn how to position their projects to ensure it is financially sustainable.
The teams should have a minimum viable product at the end of the programme which can be brought to market, which can generate revenue and create impact.
A team that has gone his way through our programme is the team of SURF (Smart Urban Recycling Facility).
Singapore has seen a declining household recycling rate and a growing rate of contamination in recyclables over the past decade. This is due in large part to a poor recycling culture locally. Could incentives, both tangible and intangible, work more effectively than just educational campaigns?
SURF aims to address this via gamification – households not only earn points for recycling, which can be redeemed for rewards, but also gives recognition to individuals for good recycling practices.
We were curious about the motivation of the team and interviewed team member Ang Wei Loong on how it all began and how they imagine the future of their project.
When did the idea for your project come into your mind for the first time?
We started working on the concept of SURF.sg about a year ago - we thought that there was great opportunity in improving the recycling culture in Singapore. Our idea was to create an app that could track each individual's recyclable contributions, give them points for that, and learn about good recycling practices. It was an idea that was first experimented at an NTU module, EN3001 solid and hazardous waste management, and we were commended for that idea.
When we realised 2018 was the year of climate action, we thought this presented an excellent context to help promote recycling habits in Singapore! After putting out some money on ads, we realised that companies were willing to engage us to launch events that promote sustainability practices with their employees, especially since our app engaged each employee individually.
Do you have experience in starting a project / taking the lead in a project?
How is this experience being so far?
SURF is by far the largest project that I have embarked on.
The leadership role comes with a lot of stress, and the need to come up with solutions to unforeseen problems very quickly. I’ve read books about leadership, and learnt many principles, but I learnt that there are no textbook solutions and each individual has to first discover his or her own style.
This self-understanding takes time – it was only when I lead my team through highly demanding projects and reflecting on my actions did I understand myself better. I definitely have some things to work on about bouncing back from setbacks and seeing every occurrence in a positive light.
Yet only by knowing my own limitations, am I able to work on them. I trust that this will be of great use to my career and self-development.
What is your personal motivation for starting your project?
We thought a business was the best way to be taken seriously - we wanted to be evaluated based on what we could offer, and not simply helping us out because we are students.
We also wanted to try our hand at building a sustainable social enterprise, and not rely simply on grants to keep us going.
We think working with companies to promote sustainability, internally and externally, is a win-win scenario for both of us as more people get to hear about SURF.sg and our goals! If you know anyone that could be interested in launching such an event, please contact us at email@example.com
What were your first thoughts when starting the project?
Would people use our solution? Am I being too optimistic about my idea?
How do I keep my team members motivated, engaged, and allow them to see value in their work?
Where do you see your project in 2 years from now?
We hope that SURF will be led by a strong leadership team, and established as an environmental consultancy known for launching highly successful campaigns, both internally and externally for our partner corporations.
What are your expectations with regard to the accelerator program?
I hope that it will continue to exist for many years to come.
I hope to create meaningful connections with the enactus network and the other accelerator teams.
I hope to receive more publicity so that others will hear of my startup, and hopefully it ends up on the media so that my family can be proud of what I have done in university.