StyleRocks, Singapore, and Scholarships

What a busy time it’s been! Some weeks ago, Microsoft announced that StyleRocks was one of 10 scholarship winners to attend DEMO Asia 2012. Wow wow and wow again. What an honour! DEMO Asia is a showcase of emerging technologies from around Asia: Australia, NZ, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore to name just a few countries.

Of the 10 scholarship winners, 2 companies were from Australia – StyleRocks and Tapit; so not only were we representing Microsoft, we were representing Australia as well. David & Andrew from Tapit were great compatriots to have there: helpful, supportive and generally good fun. The scholarship entitled the 10 of us to entry and a booth at the exhibition, press coverage from companies such as SG entrepreneurs, VentureBeat and SME magazine, but a 90 second pitch in front of multinationals, investors and media. Below is a photo of my DEMO Asia 2012 pass:

I should mention there were some 700 people in the auditorium, so it was a little nervewracking! Thankfully we pitched early on the first day, which meant that it was over and done with. I conveyed the key StyleRocks points: revolutionary, world-first, design your own jewellery, date reminder system, jewellery customisation for masses – and overall, I couldn’t have been happier with it.

The rest of the day was spent listening to investors – from the US, Singapore and others – give their opinions on the state of the venture capital markets in various regions. We also heard lots of the 6 minute pitches: these companies were either launching at DEMO Asia 2012 or showcasing their new startup status. Some amazing technologies there, and some great ideas too. Some of my favourites were:

1. Fitness Buffet – allowing you to have a buffet of different kinds of group activities/classes available to you for a small amount of money per month
2. Splaype – an enhancement of Skype, where you can read books and play games interactively with your children while on Skype (I’m so signing up!)
3. Dropmyemail – an email backup service (I had no idea that Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc were all hacked so regularly)

What was interesting to watch was how, despite different technologies and applications on display, different backgrounds (some people were programmers, some with marketing backgrounds), you could feel the passion and energy behind every single pitch.

During the exhibition time, lots of people came to visit the StyleRocks stand to see how jewellery could be designed, exactly as they want it. The level of jewellery personalisation or customisation – with the 87 million combinations available on the site – impressed everyone who saw it, including some senior people from Microsoft. The most often-heard comment? “It’s a beautiful website” (referring to both the design, and the technology), as well as “I’ve never seen anything like this before” – that’s because there isn’t anything like that out there! Here’s a picture of me (on left) at the StyleRocks stand with Lizz of HobbyMash, another Microsoft scholarship winner.

The Microsoft BizSpark team were very helpful in facilitating introductions to various investors and senior people: thank you again Catherine, Eugene and Thiago.

I had to leave Singapore early due to family commitments back in Sydney – but now it’s all about following up on those leads and contacts. Oh, and drawing a lucky winner out of a hat for the StyleRocks jewellery prize worth $500!

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