Sandbox Somerset celebrates 100 founders aged 35 and under

Last Friday (November 25) marks the first day of Sandbox Somerset, an event organised by Invade, in partnership with the Somerset Belt Office, powered by the National Youth Council. 

Held at the Somerset Youth Park, Sandbox Somerset will run for two consecutive weekends, celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and featuring youth founders from creative, retail, and F&B industries. 

It is also a part of Somerfest, with presentations of youth-led projects in a range of themes, including mental wellness, creative arts, sports, and even magic.

According to Kent Teo, founder and CEO of Invade, Sandbox Somerset is a collective effort by various organisations aimed at rejuvenating the Somerset Belt along Orchard Road by bringing together 100 youth founders and industry professionals in one place. 

To that end, the event will provide resources, insights, and other forms of support for youths to experiment with creative and impactful ideas and connect with peers to discover unique experiences.

We hope to identify new faces to add to the list of 100 Somerset founders in subsequent years, and to celebrate their achievements and inspire new entrepreneurs.

Kent Teo, founder and CEO of Invade

In particular, the event features panel discussions, networking and mentorship opportunities, performances by young artists, and even a Shark Tank-style pitching event by SEED Ventures. There are also retail and F&B pop-up stores for entrepreneurs to showcase their products. 

Where new blood meets the old guard

Prominent founders from many companies will be at Sandbox Somerset, and many of them will be part of panel discussions to share their entrepreneurial journey. 

Jackson Aw, founder of Mighty Jaxx
Jackson Aw, founder of Mighty Jaxx / Image Credit: Jackson Aw

Jackson Aw, founder and CEO of Mighty Jaxx, will be speaking next Saturday (December 3) at a panel titled ‘Right Time, Time Right’, where he will be sharing more about the company’s journey and its secret to success.

The company has had quite the meteoric rise, and is backed by companies like Tencent and venture capital firms like SGInnovate. Earlier this year, they also made their debut into the metaverse with MightyVerse Presents: Spooky Season, in collaboration with metaverse platform The Sandbox and collectible maker Sideshow Collectible. 

Some of the founders who are present at Sandbox Somerset
Image Credit: Sandbox Somerset

Other notable entrepreneurs who are part of the 100 Sandbox founders include Rachel Lim of Love, Bonito, Adrian Ang of SGAG, Walter Oh and Andrew Lim of Boxgreen, and Johnathan Chua, co-founder of GRVTY Media. 

During the first day of Sandbox Somerset, Johnathan – who is also the co-host of The Daily Ketchup, one of the top podcast channels in Singapore – moderated a panel that discussed the traits of being an entrepreneur, and how startups can better scale.

“It’s an honour to be part of Sandbox Somerset 2022,” said Johnathan. “I think it’s a great initiative for new and young entrepreneurs to learn from the experience of seasoned founders, especially the mistakes made.” 

For younger businesses, the opportunity to learn from these mature businesses can be a great help as well. 

In fact, many younger founders are also in attendance. Sarah Wee and Cheyenne Naidu, who founded local homemade candle startup Nitwick, noted that as rookie entrepreneurs, they can have the opportunity to learn from other, more seasoned entrepreneurs.

nitwick founders
Image Credit: Nitwick

It’s really nice to be at Sandbox Somerset. There are many more experienced founders and investors here, and they’ve given us some advice on how to strategise for the growth of Nitwick in the long term.

Sarah Wee and Cheyenne Naidu, co-founders of Nitwick

Get quality feedback for your startup…

Of course, no startup ecosystem is complete without funding and at Sandbox Somerset, SEED Ventures is bringing the capital to fund the startups of tomorrow. 

SEED Ventures will be hosting two rounds of Shark Tank-style pitching events, and looking for promising new startups to invest in.

Foptics founder pitching to a panel of judges at Sandbox Somerset
Foptics founder pitching to a panel of judges at Sandbox Somerset / Image Credit: Invade

Sandbox is where a lot of startups come to showcase what they have, so when Kent invited us to host the pitching events, we felt it was a natural fit.

I’m also looking for founders to coach, and Sandbox Somerset is a great place to meet such founders. There are many more great startups that are here at Sandbox Somerset, and I’m interested to see a lot of them.

Ian Gan, founder and CEO of SEED Ventures

Several of SEED Venture’s portfolio companies are already in attendance, including Ang Moh Liang Teh, a craft beer specialist in Singapore. 

…while rediscovering the creativity of today’s youth

And for those looking for a fun time, there are exciting performances lined up as well. These performers are all recipients of the Realise Your Somerset Project Award, and they have been invited by Invade and the National Youth Council to represent the youth.

Artists such as Green Arena 2.0 and Marcus Lee performed on the first day as part of the opening ceremony, and for those who are interested in seeing what Singaporean designers are coming up with, the event also hosted a fashion walk. 

Green Arena 2.0 performing at Sandbox Somerset
Green Arena 2.0 performing at Sandbox Somerset / Image Credit: Invade

There are also pop-up stalls within the festival, for anyone to grab a quick bite or a drink. In line with the festival’s theme, these pop-up stalls are also run by young founders who are trying out new and creative ideas. Festival-goers can expect to see booths by startups such as Style Theory and Tokidoki, just to name a few. 

Pop-up stores set up within Sandbox Somerset
Pop-up stores set up within Sandbox Somerset / Image Credit: Invade

According to Kent, the pop-up stores are a low-cost way for founders to explore their ideas. 

“Setting up shop in a shopping mall is expensive – we are talking about putting in six months of rent, renovation costs, and more. Sandbox Somerset provides these founders with a far shorter time period to work with. If they are only ready to open for a week or even just a day, we are able to accommodate them,” he said.

The energy and creativity on display at the festival is certainly not to be underestimated, and it provides an interesting show of what Singapore’s youth can come up with and how far our passion – an often underestimated resource – can carry us forward. 

Hosted at Somerset Youth Park, the festival is a five-minute walk from Somerset MRT and SCAPE*, and entry is free.

It will run from 25 to 27 November, and continue from 2 to 4 December. There will also be a Christmas rendition, happening from 10 to 11 December, as well as from 17 to 18 December. 

So if you’re looking for a fulfilling weekend or want to find out more about how you can be part of the initiative, feel free to drop by Sandbox Somerset! 

This article was written in collaboration with Invade.

Featured Image Credit: Invade

Luis Robinson

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