A New Hope, The ASEAN Way

An Unplanned Encounter

When Yujing Wong joined his first business pitch competition, the #ShapingASEAN back in October 2015, he didn’t know that it was to be the start of something much more. Although it was the pitch of his business idea to Indonesia’s renowned venture capitalist, Wempy Dyocta Koto that gave him the adrenaline rush, he surely didn’t know it was the person he was to meet at the barbecue social session afterwards that may change his life forever.

It was there that he met Patrick Wasinsungworn. At the social session held at the garden outside the SOAS Vernon Square Campus, as the two conversed for the first time, their passion for entrepreneurship made them click almost instantaneously. And that was the beginning of their journey towards the Grand Final (Top 3) of the Grad Factor, one of UK’s biggest televised student business pitch contests.

Farm.nu, and the UK Grad Factor

In their very words, “Everything begins with an idea.” So what was the brilliant, disruptive idea that brought them to the Grand Finals? It’s an app for farmers. Not the most conventional of choices, is it now? Especially if you consider the context, that this is a prestigious competition held in London, UK, the financial hub of the world, in a developed Western country in which the agricultural industry is hardly heard of in the media.

Farm.nu’s mission – “To provide a platform that connects farmers to end users, bypassing the middle men, allowing farmers to enjoy greater revenue and profit and not be forced to sell at cut prices by larger firms as well as help consumers to access fresher, cheaper and a greater variety of produce.” Simple, yet brilliant. After all, as expressed by Da Vinci himself, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Going through the Regionals, National, and finally to the Grand Final of Grad Factor is an immense feat, especially if it’s the first time one is entering a competition of that scale. But that’s exactly what they did. Before the grand finals, they managed to gauge the interest in their idea as well as engage established entrepreneurs and investors at unBound London 2015, through the tickets won at the earlier #ShapingASEAN.

“Teamwork is the most important asset any organisation can have, and we are very grateful to be working with talented and dedicated individuals on an idea that we believe can bring about social good, especially to the region that we are from.” – Yujing Wong & Patrick Wasinsungworn, 2015

Of AYPN, #ShapingASEAN and #StartupASEAN

If you paid attention closely to the final part of the sentence, you will notice that they used the word ‘region’. A point that you may have not realised is the beauty of their partnership; one is a Malaysian from the tranquil Kuala Terengganu, and the other, a Thai from bustling Bangkok.

It is this unspoken, but unmistakable connection that exist between us from the region, that we at AYPN believe led the two of them to ponder on the realities facing ASEAN and to the eventual culmination of their idea of Farm.nu. It was a fated meet between two ‘Aseanites’ who share the same passion to bring positive change to the region.

This story, to us at AYPN, is the epitome of opportunities and meaningful relationships that we wish to cultivate. We believe, and know, that this is the first of many more to be told to the world. What will your story be?

– by Hazim Mohamad

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