[Media Coverage] Launch of OneStart Accelerator Program in Singapore

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Biotech Connection Singapore in partnership with Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable launched the OneStart Accelerator Program in Singapore in an event held at Biopolis on 22nd October 2015.

OneStart is a call to aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the world’s largest life sciences accelerator programme, with a mission to help them realise their innovative ideas to advance healthcare. OneStart will select 35 semi-finalist teams and provide them education and ongoing business mentorship from industry leaders.

This year, top two teams from Singapore will be invited to the boot camp. Among them, 10 finalist teams will have the opportunity to pitch for S$215,000 in non-dilutive funding. Several of their teams have been successful in securing follow-on funding, with their alumni raising over $15 million combined. To learn more about the competition, please visit: www.onestart.co

This year the applications are open from 1st October until 1st December 2015. Applicants could be individuals or teams (upto 6 team members) under the age of 36(as of 31st December 2015).

As a part of the event, two Singaporean entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, Dr. Benjamin Tee and Dr. Tan Yann Chong spoke on their journey “From Silicon Valley to One North” and the experiences associated with it.

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Dr. Benjamin Tee

Dr. Benjamin Tee spent close to 11 years in US doing his undergraduate degree and his PhD degree from Stanford University. There he researched on electronic skin in which they tried to recreate the properties of human skin on artificial platforms. After coming to Singapore, he joined as a Singapore Stanford Biodesign program fellow, a program that enables medtech devices and healthcare innovations. He started his company called Privi Medical based in Singapore.

Having worked in the Bay area, he reflected on his journey from Bay area to Singapore and stated that the culture in both these places are very different. Some key insights he gained during his journey are as follows:

  • Many people may doubt your ideas during the course of your startup journey here, but he says its important that you fortify yourself and be immune to these kind of challenges.
  • There is a lot of thinking which happens here in Singapore, but the one thing he says he learnt from the Bay Area is that you need to execute them. You need to actually put in the hard work and try to protect your ideas, and that is a very big part of the entrepreneurship journey there.
  • You need to have a good team.  You need to understand that it’s a very lonely journey and need to make sure you have a good team to share your journey with.
  • There is a tendency here to think that planning is a very linear process. They think, if you write a 100 page business plan, everything is ready and you are ready to execute it. But actually that’s not the case. What really happens is that there is some planning, lot of execution and then you go back to some planning because you realize that your first plan will not work.  So its a very nonlinear process and you keep going back and forth between planning and execution.
  • This is very important part of startup journey because in your first startup,  you do not know the right answers and you need to do a lot of customer discovery, relationship building to figure out what product to build.
  • Most importantly, Think Global now!  You must begin with a global mindset before you even start building your product, because the market is limited here.

He also urged everyone to apply for accelerator programs or start up pitches or competitions. Even though the chances of winning it is slim, he suggested that it is a great way to get your ideas validated from VCs and you get suggestions on how to make your idea better and ofcourse, it helps you get some good connections.

He suggested that incase you do win these competitions, the money you get from them are immensely useful in making your first proof-of-concept prototype.

He concluded his talk with a great quote by Eric Schmidt, the former chairman and CEO of Google, “The way you build great products is small teams with strong leaders who make tradeoffs and work all night to build a product that just barely works.”

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Dr. Tan Yann Chong, co-founder of Atreca, Inc.

The second speaker of the event was Dr. Tan Yann Chong, co-founder of Atreca, Inc., a bio-pharmaceutical company located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Atreca is developing novel cancer immunotherapeutics by applying Immune Repertoire Capture technology. He was a graduate student in Stanford University when he co-founded Atreca in 2012. His company recently completed a Series A funding round with a total investment of $56 million. He spoke briefly about the key points all startups must remember in order to be successful.

  • He stressed upon the importance of having patents that can protect one’s intellectual property. He mentioned that it is one of the first things investors in a company look into- whether you have any valuable IP that can be protected.
  • All VC’s want you to succeed, because if you succeed they succeed. So in a way, VC’s are your friends. Good VC’s have a lot of experience and a lot of connections and can open a lot of doors for you.
  • He mentioned that when you start pitching to a VC, criticism is inevitable. So, you need to talk to different people and they don’t have to necessarily be VC’s.  If you find similar criticisms coming up again and again,  it is time to update your plan and incorporate some new changes.

He concluded his talk, by saying “This is your startup, your idea- so keep bettering your plan, as it will improve your chances of success.”

The event concluded with a panel discussion and networking session.