Practice Makes Perfect – Interview with FACIO Founders

Angelica Sanchez and Edwin Teoh are 3rd Year students from Temasek Polytechnic, studying financial business informatics. Angelica and Edwin have won several business competitions and together with their classmates Ang Jing Xuan, Ong Yan Ning, and Muhd Firdaus, they started FACIO – a startup company selling backpacks with detachable compartments.

FACIO group
From left to right: Muhd Firdaus, Ong Yan Ning, Edwin Teoh, Ang Jing Xuan, Angelica Sanchez.

Could you tell us about your business?

Angelica: We run FACIO – a startup company selling backpacks with detachable compartments.

It all started when we saw our peers carrying several bags to school. As we were IT students, we had to carry our laptop in addition to our books and notes everyday. Hence, in order not to lug everything along when we went for breaks, we had to use separate bags.

That is how we came up with this idea. We designed our bag, The Detachable, with convenience and style in mind since our focus is on students. As the name suggests, the bag comes with detachable compartments that could be used as smaller bags themselves. These compartments can also be swapped for different colors and styles.

Have you had to present your product to an audience?

A: Yes. We had to present our product to a panel of judges in the 2015 Company of the Year (COY) competition organized by Junior Achievement (JA). On top of that, when we represented Singapore in the Asia Pacific finals held in Korea, we ran a trade booth where we pitched and sold our product to the public. Within 4 hours, we managed to make $800 in profits.

How has presentation/public speaking skills helped you in these sales pitches?

A: These skills were crucial in our sales pitches. Without confidence and presentation skills, it is very hard to approach and convince customers to buy your product. At times, customers aren’t even willing to spare time for you. However, I learnt that if you present confidently, they are more likely to stop and listen to you. In addition, it was always better to physically present your product rather than rely on text mediums such as flyers, as they do not leave an impression on customers. Hence, our most effective medium for sales was to give a short but impressive pitch.

What was your experience in business competitions?

A: We participated in both JA’s International Trade Challenge (ITC) and COY. Being my first business competition, ITC kindled my interest in business competitions and helped to develop my presentation skills. This was put to the test in COY, where we had only 4 minutes to present on our company (how we started, strategy, marketing). As we only had a short period to present, we rehearsed copiously with our English teachers who helped to critique us. From our experience, presentation plays a large role in these competitions.

How did you develop your presentation skills into where you are today?

Edwin: As the age-old adage goes, “practice makes perfect”. Our recipe for improving presentation skills boiled down to repeatedly practicing and improving from feedback.  For these competitions, we stayed back in school till 10pm to rehearse and refine our presentation. We are thankful to receive constant feedback from our teachers and JA trainers whose constructive criticism told us where we needed to improve in. We also had mentors and entrepreneurs who visited our school and gave us personal consultations on presentation skills.

After attending ITC and COY, we received positive feedback from our teachers, stating that our school presentations had significant improvement. Before, our slides were wordy and we kept having to refer to them. Now, we can just have one picture on the screen and speak about it off the top of our heads.

Even to this day, I still do face stage fright when presenting (though not as much). However, I learnt to deal with stage fright rather than to try making it disappear. In the past I used to be so nervous in school presentations that I would be shaking and stuttering. Now, I feel confident in my ability to present.

Any parting comments for our readers?

A: Just keep practicing. I recommend practicing in front of friends (or a mirror if there aren’t people around) to build confidence when speaking to someone, and to receive their feedback. Also, never underestimate preparation. Even a 5-minute presentation could take months of preparation; you can’t just do it the night before.

E: Public speaking is a very important aspect in life. If you are really good at something (say a 4.0 GPA student or a mathematical genius), but you can’t sell yourself or present well, you will be left behind and lose out on a lot of opportunities. Hence, invest your time in improving your public speaking and presentation skills.

To find out more about FACIO, please visit their Facebook page here.


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