A startup battle & tackling world hunger: The finale of Disrupt Asia 2018


When the panel discussions came to an end, our clocks read 11:30 PM. However, Disrupt Asia 2018 wasn’t over. Far from it, this was time to gear up for a fight. It was time for the Disrupt Asia 2018 Startup Battle Grand Finale. Here, 4 startups pitched their products to a panel of judges. They were each given 5 minutes to make their presentation. This was followed by 8 minutes of Q&A by the judges. With that being said, the battle began.

First up was iLoan

Disrupt Asia Startup Battle
iLoan making their presentation at the grand finale of Disrupt Asia Startup Battle

We initially saw iLoan at Disrupt Asia 2017. So what exactly is iLoan? Well, think of it as an online loan aggregator that wants to bring lenders to borrowers. So you can basically fill out the necessary forms for getting a loan online. Once submitted, iLoan would process the information and send it to the relevant banks to be processed. This, in turn, would mean less travels to the bank.

Next up, we saw Park and Pay

Disrupt Asia 2018 | Startup
Park and Pay making their presentation

We’ve seen Park and Pay at a number of competitions before. The platform essentially allows users to find and reserve a parking spot in the city. If you have a parking spot that you want to rent out, you can do that as well. Parking fees can be paid via the Park and Pay app itself. Alternatively, you can pay the fees to a parking attendant directly if you’re parking in a public car park.

Following this, we saw Sixer Video

This is aimed at HR Managers who are looking to hire new candidates. The team aims to replace the traditional CV that one sends for a job, with a video. Rather than going through hundreds of resumes, An HR manager or department on the lookout for new employees can register with Sixer Video.

Disrupt Asia Startup Battle
Sixer Video making their presentation

Upon registration, they would receive a unique campaign code. Using this campaign code, the HR Department can promote the job opening to potential candidates. In turn, the candidates can use the campaign code along with the Sixer Video mobile app to submit a video pitch. Finally, each video can only be 100 seconds at most.

The last startup on stage was uPay

They call it a “Super Aggregator” of all essential services on one single platform. uPay wants to be a platform that allows you to shop, book a taxi, or get a doctor. It’s currently available for Android and iOS. Additionally, they’re also offering digital solutions to help bring businesses online.

Disrupt Asia Startup Battle
uPay was the last to make their pitch at Disrupt Asia Startup Battle

As such, they aim to provide new channels for merchants to accept payments. These merchants can be large corporations, SME’s, and retail businesses. To make a payment you just need to add your credit/debit card details. Afterward, just san a QR code whenever you wish to make a payment.

Bringing Disrupt Asia 2018 to a close

With the startup battle over, the last item on the agenda of Disrupt Asia 2018 was the closing keynote. This was delivered by Nick Marino Jr. – Director of Social Change at TangoTab. Taking the stage towards midnight, he opened his keynote by asking everyone to stand. He then asked everyone to clap a few times. And then as we took our seats reenergized, Nick thanked us for giving him a standing ovation.

Disrupt Asia 2018
Nick Marino Jr. on stage at Disrupt Asia 2018

Afterward, he jumped into the main focus of his keynote. Nick shared that traditionally, companies would rather be reactive to problems instead of being proactive. He stated that this shouldn’t be the case. “We don’t need to wait until a problem is big to solve it. We can fix now itself,” said Nick. Furthermore, traditionally in business, companies are expected to consider profit foremost.

In fact, they’re supposed to consider profit over people. Yet, the next generation Nick emphasized would be different. The next generation of entrepreneurs and startup will think about people over profit. “When we’re doing a business, we shouldn’t do it for the what. We should do it for the why,” said Nick.

Executing your startup idea

Afterward, he moved onto talk about ideas. He encouraged the audience not to be dissuaded if an idea they had was already being done by someone. Nick emphasized that you might be the execute the idea. And then he shared a few pointers to consider when executing an idea. The first point was to ask why you’re pursuing this idea. “People don’t buy what you do, rather, people buy why you do it,” said Nick.

“When we’re doing a business, we shouldn’t do it for the what. We should do it for the why.” – Nick Marino Jr.

His next point was uniqueness. He shared that we may look similar to each other. But there’s always something different that makes us uniques. Nick explained that one of the most important things when building your brand is your story. Every single person who works at a company can tell you a unique version of its story.

Nick’s third point was sustainability. He shared that your brand should live on. It should do so long after you’re done. This can be done by simply building something great. Certain names might be better known than brands But the brands will definitely live on longer than those names.

Disrupt Asia 2018 Main Stage
Nick continuing his session

Finally, he moved onto being transparent. This he said was quite simply because all the only thing you needed to do was, “Don’t lie.” Adding to this, Nick also shared that one should never skimp out on the quality of your product. Whether you give a high-quality product to your end consumer can make or break you.

Know your tribes

These are your followers. Nick stated that they’re an important factor. Why? Because these are the most important people to your brand. You should consider how you’re communicating with your consumer and how are you reaching them. Because if you don’t, someone else will. At the end of the day, your consumers are your best storytellers.

“In 100 years, will your great grandkids know your name?” – Nick Marino Jr. 

Collaboration too is an important factor to think about. Yet, Nick stated that many of us make sure it’s a one-way street. In other words, we look at getting more out of it compared to the other party. Nick emphasized that collaborations should be a two-way street. Both sides should benefit equally.

Solving world hunger

Afterward, Nick highlighted that it’s important to pick a problem you can solve. He then said, “If we stand together, hunger doesn’t stand a chance.” And then he introduced us to TangoTab. This is an app that gives you offers and shows restaurants in your neighborhood. When you check into a restaurant or redeem an offer, a donation is made to help feed a person that’s hungry in your community.

Disrupt Asia 2018
TangoTab Feed The City bring the community together to feed the hungry (Image credits: TangoTab)

Over their 7 years, the company has donated over 2.5 Million meals to those in need. Nick also spoke about their Feed the City events. These events take place in 15 cities each month. And they bring in hundreds of people in the community together, to make meals for those in need. As such, it’s not surprising to see people donate 5,000 meals in 3 hours. “All of a sudden, these people become our tribe”, Nick explained.

Despite the growth of TangoTab, Nick emphasized that their work is not yet done. They’re expanding internationally. They’re launching in Greece, Singapore, and many other countries as well. Why? Because there are restaurants there and there are people that need help as well.

Disrupt Asia 2018 Main Stage
Nick concluding his keynote

In conclusion, Nick asked the audience, “Are you going to just walk out of here and live your life like any other day? Or are you going to take what you learned, and proceed to literally change the world with one simple idea?” If you change nothing, nothing will change. In 100 years, will your great grandkids know your name?” With these thought-provoking questions, Nick’s keynote wrapped up.

Wrapping things up at Disrupt Asia 2018

After the closing keynote was the announcement of the winners of the Disrupt Asia 2018 Startup Battle. And after much anticipation we learned that Park and Pay emerged as the Winners. In second place was Sixer Video. Along with their cash prizes, the teams would also be representing Sri Lanka at the Oslo Innovation Week.

Disrupt Asia 2018
Park and Pay – The Winners of the Disrupt Asia 2018 Startup Battle

Finally, we saw  Sachindra Samararatne – Program Manager at ICTA take the stage. He delivered the vote of thanks. Having thanked everyone, he uttered the now infamous words, “We weren’t originally planning on having Disrupt Asia this year.” Yet, Disrupt Asia 2018 did happen and just like it’s predecessors, it had a lot to offer. For a full breakdown of what happened at Disrupt Asia 2018, you can check out the Disrupt Asia Hub