So the weekend went by in a whirl and I was pretty much still in shock by Monday at having been one of the winning teams for Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneur’s Programme 2013. For the days leading up to the final pitch, I was actually fraught with a bag of mixed emotions that ran the gamut from fear to uncertainty and even doubt. Even the weeks leading up to the pitch saw me still meeting people but having them share that they find me losing steam already. Perhaps the strain of financial instability and lack of interested tourists willing to come for a boat trip was taking its toll on me.
Being the extrovert that I am, I decided to just let loose and go for a retro themed networking party 2 days before final pitching day and meeting all these new people really got my energy level up as I learnt to let loose and share about The Dorsal Effect in a charming and playful rather than serious way, hoping that would be the lure for the excited traveler. What I was definitely not expecting, was to meet Nicholas Leong of Kenyan Riders (wasn’t he supposed to still be in Kenya?). Imagine my shock when I saw him and shouted his name out as if he was an old buddy when the only time I had ever met him was one-sidedly, on the TV screen, in a TV show that showcased Singaporeans abroad and the amazing things they were doing. Thank goodness he took to the star-struck me kindly and we ended up chatting heartily and soulfully about life, windows of opportunity for creatives, the Singapore expectations and being active vs reactive, most parts of the night. It was a much needed pick-me-up, to actually hear from a hero I look up to, about the uncharted path he had chosen to take and press on with, and he left me with a hearty bear hug and piles of encouragement by the end of the night.
So pitching day 12th October morning came and as I made my way up the Scape escalator to the pitching room, emotions flooded me over as I looked back upon this journey on The Dorsal Effect thus far…the conception, the trips to Lombok, the countless networking sessions I had put myself into, the many rejections from potential social venture capitalists and government start up grants, the competitions I had taken part in and failed to make it through subsequent rounds, the naysayers who admired my courage but said the idea was never gonna work, the not having a comfortable teacher salary to travel freely anymore…everything culminated and I just broke down before stepping into the room. But I eventually listened earnestly to each and every pitch before and after mine to truly be rejuvenated and reinstate believe in humanity in me again, truly heartened by all these efforts and amazing projects for change that I hope would come to fruition, seed funding or not, and when it was my turn, I think I really put my heart and soul into the pitch and ended with me choking up.
Fast forward to results announcement and prize presentation after the showcase to public session and when I heard “The Dorsal Effect” announced as the third winner, I was left in a state of shock that by the time I made it up on stage, tearing ceaselessly, I fell into the embrace of SIF’s dear ED, Ms Jean Tan. Even as I gave my 90 second pitch after the plaque presentation was I still choking up and fighting back tears, repeating phrases, truly the worst pitch ever…haha. Finally, beyond the seed funding amount, the win lent a lot more legitimacy and credibility to the business plan than ever before and that was truly a milestone.
So the last few days thereafter gave me moments to register and properly take in what had happened and look at things retrospectively again and I started again to see just how amazingly and magically beautiful life truly is and that everything really happens for a reason. Right from the point when I bumped into lifelong Irish band loves, Ash at the Bangkok airport after Sonic Bang which became a sign for meeting the most amazing Irish couple Elisha and Aidan (who happened to be travelling in Southeast Asia at that time! What were the amazing odds besides the stars being aligned??) on The Dorsal Effect’s first ever boat trip. And then I realized the Kenya link too, and how I really wanted to meet Nicholas Leong when I volunteered in Kenya earlier this year but didn’t get to because someone up there had a better time for me to meet him, at my lowest just before the YSE final pitch, to give me just the believe in me too and the boost I needed…wow personal heroes are truly special like that.
So yes, I had a panic attack yet again yesterday, thinking about my dwindling finances (the YSE $10,000 grant is meant to grow the business after all) but today I got white roses from dear Pam as a form of congratulations for the win and a reminder to always remain pure in my intentions and vision for The Dorsal Effect as I take it forward. As I plan for the upcoming return to Lombok hoping to make more headway and legitimatize the business amidst trying to actively get tourists already in Lombok to sign up for the boat trips and preparing for the upcoming talks at NUS, Ecosystems SG and Chaos Asia, I will go forth with believe as I look out for the signs and persist in the dream for the sharks, the beautiful giants of the deep whom I hope my grandchildren will still get a chance to swim freely with in the oceans. Stay pure in the dream, stay focused, keep walking on, and perhaps that is how the stars will decide to align again and help things fall into place.