BLOCK71 interviews the founder of Startup Weekend Singapore (SWSG)!
Curious to know what makes Durwin Ho, the founder of Startup Week Singapore tick? Before reading on, here’s a short bio of Durwin!
Durwin is the lead organiser of Startup Weekend Singapore and this Mega edition is his fifth run. He has been doing it for about 3.5 years now. Durwin runs a childcare business and has a tech startup in the used car space. He is passionate about building communities and driving innovation.
What galvanised you and your team to organise SWSG?
We wanted to create a hackathon that will go down in history as the boldest and the best, and we set out to ensure we got every element precisely right: the best mentors, judges, venue, sponsors, food and swag. It was also a good reason for us to network and build the startup community from the ground-up, dipping our feet where the excitement and passion is. I love watching the uninitiated get fiery on a Friday, work with a team of strangers throughout Saturday, and come Sunday, pitch their creative ideas to a panel of distinguished judges and building a company over 54 hours! It’s raw, it’s awesome and it’s so beautiful.
What are some of the challenges you faced in organising SWSG and how did you overcome them?
We had quite a few challenges like finding the right venue that could fit our needs, getting the high-level mentors and judges due to their busy schedule and running the operations for the weekend itself. It was a huge undertaking as there were many moving parts and the scale of things really made it challenging. Previously, at smaller SWSG, if we ran out of ice for the drinks, I would simply go out and buy a pack of ice. Now, catering for 500+ people, we need trolleys and transport and an army of volunteers just to get ice!
What was your most memorable experience in organising SWSG or during SWSG?
When Chatri went on stage before the final pitches and started motivating the crowd! It was pure fire and enthusiasm! More specifically, during our planning stage (it took around 8 months for an event of this scale), what I loved was the camaraderie and bonding of the team of volunteers and how we managed to nail every challenge we gave ourselves. Taking a step back, when you realise that SWSG Mega was done entirely by a bunch of volunteers, with full-time jobs, with just passion in our hearts and giving ourselves nothing but bigger, crazier challenges (Getting Chatri as a judge?! Customising each of the 15 judges plaque?! Giving 2 amazing swag bags?! Getting the finance minister to open?! Soft-served ice-cream and Thai tea for snacks?!), you start to believe in the possibility of something bigger.
What did you think went well for this year’s SWSG?
We got some of the best entrepreneurs, government and corporates to participate in SWSG. This was no easy feat as we had to show quality and standards in our event. The fact that out of the 300 participants who signed up, more than a third were developers, was a testament to how attractive and meaningful our event was.
What would you like to see in the next SWSG?
We would love to see more involvement from the government and foreign founders who have made it big outside singapore. We are always trying to up the ante and give participants the best experience ever. Perhaps we may even invite Jack Ma or Tim Cook down!
Would you have any observations about the entrepreneurship scene in Singapore in the next few years?
I think as time progresses, entrepreneurship will become a norm, but more importantly, the passion for building and embracing new technology and changes has to evolve over time. We have to build a community that believes and thrives on the spirit of innovation as firmly as they believe in a 9 to 5 job. Only then, can we as a community, truly integrate innovation as a part of work and life, and see greater leaps in our way of life.