Building a Startup in 54 Hours During COVID-19
From an idea to winning Startup Weekend Singapore 2020.
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As an up and coming entrepreneur, the idea of exploring new opportunities in new lands is always thrilling. To me, Asia is that land of milk and honey. So I packed my bags, bid my dear family and friends goodbye, turned my gaze away from all that was familiar and set foot on what I considered an adventure of a lifetime. A journey of exactly 6,813 miles.

I found myself in Singapore; the land of new beginnings. From the very moment I landed, I was struck by the strong hope of endless possibilities for myself and my ventures. With every plan perfectly falling into place at just the dawn of 2020, it truly felt like the rest of the year was off to a good start. I successfully secured multiple job interviews for consulting positions, business opportunities for expanding GoCode Academy and grew my professional network by leaps and bounds. These positive signs further propped my optimism. 

Suddenly, the world was brought to a standstill by the uninvited guest appearance of Covid-19. 

Covid-19 hit the world’s economy like a massive ton of bricks; disrupting the usual order of trade, revealing that many businesses were soon turning obsolete and forcing them to shut down. For sanitary reasons, it has forced every interaction to reconvene on an online space. This was my worst nightmare coming to past. One by one, I began to lose grasp of the golden opportunities that filled my early days with hope. To make matters worse, the lockdown disabled me from my normal way of life. Here I was stuck at home in a foreign country, with all my privileges cut short even before I could begin living out my entrepreneurial dream. As an outgoing extrovert, I thrive on attending social events, meeting new people and traveling. With all of my favourite activities now restricted, it began to take a toll on my overall well-being.

It was exactly 3 days before Singapore went into quarantine when I asked an interesting woman out to coffee. We hit it right off. Two ambitious individuals exchanging deep insights and brilliant ideas over a cuppa. With a newfound friend in hand and a brand new focus in sight, we were now passionately working together to solve issues caused by Covid-19. After much brainstorming, we realised that the biggest issue closest to our hearts was the war raging inside of our minds. Like Covid-19, mental health decline was a war unseen.  

As Tamils, we both agreed that mental well-being is a topic that Asians find impossible to approach or discuss. For this very reason, it is a serious problem that demands immediate attention. This motivated us to work tirelessly on building an online platform that grants workers greater access to mental health support, especially in the thick of a global crisis. We submitted this idea to Antler as part of their Covid-19 initiative. Very soon, I found another opportunity for us to share our idea: Startup Weekend Singapore 2020. We met two other equally inspiring individuals and our team doubled. In a short span of 54 hours, we created The Mind Hyve, an app that allows employees to access therapy at the palm of their hands. Our idea clinched first place and won the admiration of all the judges, with them going further to encourage and accelerate our next steps. This opened doors for us to reach those in education, frontline healthcare staff, those who work remotely and many more. We are currently working on building our app and raising investment. 

Honestly, this journey has been a rollercoaster ride. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in just three months. While Covid-19 has appeared to disrupt our lives, it is only proving to me that sometimes, the disruption of one grand plan is actually a redirection to the beginning of another. What we could not previously afford is now handed to us in greater generosity, like time. Therefore, I urge every budding entrepreneur to use this precious time to explore opportunities within your sector, be open to exploring new sectors, validate your ideas and pick up valuable tech skills. You never know how life can surprise you!  

Robert Rajeswaran
CEO | GoCode Academy
Robert Rajeswaran is an educator, entrepreneur and a young man on a mission to inspire ...
Robert Rajeswaran is an educator, entrepreneur and a young man on a mission to inspire ...
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