Startup Competitions: Catalytic benefits beyond grants

Author

Alvin Li Alvin Li

Date

November 8, 2019

4 min read

Founded in 2018 and based in Hong Kong, Superkids Education is an EdTech startup that publishes digital storybooks about social issues from around the world to instill positive values in young children.

Superkids was selected as a Grand Finalist of the Asia Social Innovation Award (ASIA) 2019 by Social Ventures Hong Kong (SvHK). We interviewed Alvin Li, Founder and CEO of Superkids, to find out what were some of the benefits and challenges when applying for the competition.

1. What made Superkids Education stand out from the rest of the entries for SVHK’s ASIA 2019?

A year ago, Superkids was at the prototype stage with a core team of only 2 full time staff. However, we partner with a strong story team and tech team, with deep experience in story writing, illustration, music composition, gamefication and building charity partners.

We believe that Superkids stood out from the other entries because we use digitisation and gamefication to completely re-think, re-design and deliver a new reading and learning experience. We also have numerous interesting features, such as reader profile creation, animations, multiple language selection, read-along voiceover and mini interactive games. By digitising storybooks, we are able to introduce animations, background music, sound effects, interactive commands, mini games, expanded glossaries and a charitable call-to-action.

Digitising our storybooks allows us to reduce unnecessary costs, such as publisher fees, printing, shipping and shelving costs. This way, the price of our books are drastically reduced, making it more affordable and accessible to all parents and children.

We also translate our books into multiple languages, including English, Chinese, Thai and Spanish, enabling our books to be globally accessible.

After the book is finished, there is a link that connects readers to our charity partner’s website, allowing them to learn more about our partners and donate to their cause if they wish.

2. What were some of the challenges Superkids team face throughout the competition, and how did you overcome them?

When we were applying for the competition, we were at quite an early stage compared to our fellow competitors. We had conducted market research and gathered feedback from our first batch of users, but we still had to convince everyone that there is market demand and that we are scalable. We were confident with our idea, but we could have been much more convincing with actual sales numbers!

On the bright side, being at an early stage also meant we had lots of room to experiment and test new ideas. We attended the workshops with an open-mind, and received helpful feedback from experienced mentors so that we could articulate our idea well in the final presentation.

3. What did you learn from your experience when participating in this competition?

We are inspired by other interesting and innovative ideas that fellow finalists are working on. We learnt not to limit ourselves to our initial ideas and directions, and instead sought for common goals and collaboration opportunities with other social ventures and community partners. As we are all based in Asia, and are passionate in tackling social issues, there is so much room to collaborate and deliver even greater impact.

One of the key lessons was also to prepare solid financials, and be ready to explain assumptions and projections in a realistic way. No matter how good the idea may sound, investors and funders ultimately do look at the numbers and the venture’s financial sustainability.

4. What are your next steps?

Based on earlier feedback, we are currently developing Superkids 2.0 that offers mini games instead of storybooks. As children and adults have short attention spans, we think that combining fun and learning will prove to be valuable. The 2.0 version will be available for download before this Christmas for alpha and beta testing.

These competitions have been very helpful because we were deeply inspired by other finalists, who were also keen to share their network and contacts whom they thought will be helpful for our venture. These platforms are also a great opportunity to make our ideas heard, while gaining plenty of useful and practical feedback.

5. Where do you see Superkids Education in the next 5 years?

We see Superkids as a leading digital provider for character education through stories and games and even through documentaries and AR/VR experiences. We truly believe in embracing the benefits of technology and re-creating new learning experiences that will hopefully create a whole generation of super kids!

To reach this goal, we hope to seek further support, not only through funds for scale, but more importantly through capacity building, operational expertise, and local content curation.

 

 


About Author
Alvin Li
Alvin Li Founder and CEO Superkids

Alvin is a social entrepreneur and consultant in social innovation. He is the Founder and CEO at Superkids, a digital children's storybook's app that promotes positive values and character education. He is also Co-Founder and CEO at The Kommon Goods, an eco-friendly lifestyle brand producing metal straws, bamboo toothbrushes and other non-plastic products. Prior to Superkids, he co-founded Givo, an award-winning charitable fundraising platform.

After completing the Executive Programme for Impact Investing at the University of Oxford, Alvin founded a Ghana microfinance project, and was the Director of Finance at a UK-based charity, and Analyst at UBS Asset Management. He is currently President of a Social Impact Leaders group at a global investment bank, running workshops and site visits for young philanthropists, impact investors and social entrepreneurs across APAC.

He has been named Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, and has been invited as a thought leader to be a keynote speaker and panellist at numerous events, and to share his views on social innovation publicly on live TV, radio shows and news articles. He holds a Master’s in Management as well as a Master’s in Social Innovation, both at the University of Cambridge.

Alvin's mission is to create social movements and inspire waves of changemakers and young leaders to walk a meaningful journey of social impact, whether through supporting charities, plastic-free lifestyle or digital character education.