Keep Marching On

Written by
Kim Lim

The first time entering into such a major competition like the Chivas Venture, we told ourselves that this was just for gaining experience and to have a feel of where Picha stands on the world stage. To us, even winning the Malaysian title in January was an unbelievable achievement because the other finalists were strong and have been in business for quite some years,  we were pretty much “babies”. However, we kept our morale high and told ourselves, our passion will be what sets us apart.

Throughout the last few months of preparation, we took what we learnt from Oxford (organised by Chivas Venture in collaboration with Skoll Centre) and tried to incorporate into Picha. Whether it was the sharing, or how we review our visions in Picha, it was all really helpful. Then, we came to the point of preparing for the 5 minutes pitch that would get us to the final five which was an opportunity to present it in the Next Web Conference happening in Amsterdam. And that was when it hit us, how big this was. It took me an entire month. Just for FIVE MINUTES.

 Though I have done quite a few pitches for Picha but doing it for a competition gives you a whole new level of nervousness and feels completely different.  Competing with 26 other amazing ideas all around the world, it was intense, EVERYONE have AMAZING ideas that I truly love. You have people generating energy from transportation travelling on the roads, to people who enabled the blind to read more with a braille device, and people who enable the disabled to enter into the ocean with technology. They were all beautiful projects. They were such strong competition, and it was an honor simply being in such company.

Luckily and thankfully for our mentor, Ehon papa, who guided us through the entire preparation and rehearsal of the pitch. We did multiple reviews just for the slides to ensure it had all the necessary elements to capture the essence of our business; stories, numbers and vision. Repeated rehearsals, over and over and over again and we definitely couldn’t have perfected it without him. And to top it off, we had just 5 minutes to communicate this vision with the judges and the world! Nerve racking. I’ve never prepared for something so short for such a long period of time, except for music. It was a great experience and definitely something I’d go through all over again as I reflect on it.

As I tried to be really focused throughout the week when I was in Amsterdam, having my co-founder’s support right with me was definitely crucial. Not simply to help for the pitch, the hardest was all the waiting. Waiting for your turn, waiting for the judges to deliberate, waiting for the announcement of winners. And this cycle was not just during the finals but 2 rounds before that, to get from Top 27 to Top 9 and only then to the Top 5. Though I was netflix-ing all the way to kill time and tried to make myself calm, I got to admit, there was still a lot of nerves in me. The announcements of getting into Top 9 and Top 5 was intense. During the Top 9’s announcement, Picha was announced LAST and just having to endure that amount of stress was truly getting to me. I wasn’t able to sleep or eat at all!

Fortunately, Picha’s name was called out second during the Top 5’s announcement, sparing me the agony and I was so relieved because finally, it was something we could present to the world.That Picha was a sustainable effort on our end. I almost cried my tears out, thinking about Zaza as well and thanking the judges so many times for allowing refugees to finally have a voice at an international level. It wasn’t about winning during the Top 5 finals presentation at the Next Web Conference, though winning would be a bonus but it was really to provide refugees a voice and dignity. Boy, it was a fantastic yet nerve racking experience, presenting Picha to more than 3000 people in the room and live-streaming audience as well!
Feeling the support in the room from my peers, my co-founders and the team/supporters in Malaysia live streaming at 12am Malaysia time,I knew that Picha indeed has played a great part in so many people’s heart. No, we did not win this competition but we won hearts of many, proving to the world that Malaysia can do something great for its nation and people, putting Malaysia’s SE on the map. Like I said in the beginning, it wasn’t about winning the title, it was about telling the world that something like Picha can exist for refugees or other communities. Telling the world that Malaysians can contribute positively to the world as well.
Writing this post, I want to thank the many Picha Heroes who stood beside Picha all this while, whether it’s by purchasing from us, being our supporters or mentors, assisting our families, delivered for Picha or worked with Picha, you all made this possible. Without any effort and results, there’s nothing to show to the world and yes we did it as one Malaysia. Thank you so much for sticking through thick and thin with us, contributing to our achievements, it was all of you who presented at that final stage and I promise you that there will be more to come.
Though Picha did not win the title, we managed to bring back 53k USD this round to further expand and improve the work we do. We can’t wait to rock and roll, and continue serving MORE Picha Heroes in Malaysia and later, throughout the world. Watch out, Picha is coming at you!