Team Spooky City Won Techstar Weekend Startup in Kuching. LR: Sanib, Jong, Yap and Raihan

I could not believed that I joined the first Techstar Weekend Startup at the Tegas Innovation Hub, Kuching from 17 to 19 November 2017.  And won!  My team, Spooky City created dark tourism for Kuching.

Being an old man of 64 years old, I surprised myself and my family for participating in this grueling Techstar Weekend Startup.  Besides that I have to run my NGO, Amanah Khairat Yayasan Budaya Melayu Sarawak.

We were to pitch an idea and turned it into a viable business in the ecommerce ecosystem.  That meant spending two days and nights with little food and sleep.  The theme was on tourism in Sarawak.

I volunteered to pitch an idea on creating a new tour route in Kuching city with a prior knowledge.  An ordinary tour routes pointing out old buildings around the city was boring.  Strangely the idea transformed into a dark tourism and called it Spooky City.  I was thinking of the darkside of Kuching city, a night ghost tour.  The idea received second highest votes to proceed to the final stage to turn the idea into a commercial tourist product.

Spooky City’s idea received second highest votes.

I am a content man and I needed the techies and nerdies in the team that we called a company. There were 30 participants and there were 5 pitchers.  Not many wanted to join me and got the leftovers when Raihan (UNIMAS), Jong (UTC) and Yap (Form 6 student) stumbled to my desk.  Obviously nobody wanted work with an old man!

Team members doing some grueling works

It was tough and grueling.  On the first day, Saturday 18th, we pitched to the mentors.  Spooky City did fairly well but I overshot the 3 minutes pitching time.  The teams did not interact and seemed to be secretive.  We worked through the night to simplify our ideas and  strictly refined the presentation to 5 minutes for the final pitch on Sunday afternoon.  This was a problem for me as I used to give an hour lecture.

Help from two mentors

My Spooky City team was the fourth to ptich infront of the judges. Only then we saw what other teams were doing. Most of them had beautiful and professional slides and websites. Jong tried to improve the slides designed by an old man on the spot. I told him not to compete with the professional designers; he agreed and undid all the changes.

Assistant Minister Datu Len Salleh and CEO iCom, Datu Patrick

When YB Datu Len Salleh gave away the awards to the second and the first runner up, I completely lost hope of gettng anthing.  I gave up and just wanted to go home to sleep.

After the drumroll, the winner was my Spooky City!  Another surprise for me!  A winner in the world renowned Techstar first event in Kuching.

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About sanibsaid

Studied History as my major from the University of Malaya, in particular history of Sarawak for BA, MA and PhD. My writings come from the English literature and my stories are from history. I have written several books, among them are Malay Politics in Sarawak (Oxford, 1985); Melayu Sarawak: Sejarah Yang Hilang (UNIMAS, 2013; 2nd ed. Saramedia, 2016).

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