“Skillsets can be learned. The ability to execute is more important”

Joyce Tay, StartupX, on the company’s first accelerator program for waste-tech.

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HyperScale is a new accelerator program that aims to scale up waste-tech innovation in Southeast Asia. 

The applications deadline for the first cohort, covering plastics and e-waste, has been extended until July 17.

HyperScale is organized by StartupX, a consultancy specializing in innovation programs, and Enterprise Singapore, a government agency that supports SMEs.

We spoke to Joyce Tay, chief strategy officer at StartupX and HyperScale’s program director, to find out more. 

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals

What kind of companies are you looking for?

For this cohort, we are looking at companies tackling plastic waste or e-waste – upstream or downstream solutions. 

We wanted to look at waste streams that are not currently being covered. We may expand the scope in cohort two or cohort three.

We’re open to companies from any part of the world as long as the impact can be addressed here in Southeast Asia. 

We want to help companies scale up, identifying pilots and collaborations in Singapore and beyond. 

These are typically later-stage startups that have already raised external funding or have generated some commercial revenue.


What do you look for in a management team?

Vision and execution. 

I want to know that the team has the vision to go very far, but has the ability to build it and make it happen at the same time.  

Skillsets are definitely important but these can be learned. The ability to execute is a lot more important. I want to know that founders will do whatever it takes to make it happen. 


What level of financial information is essential in an application?

We ask for a lot of data. We don’t need hard contracts or hard statements, but we want to know details.

It’s important that it’s an open conversation. Some areas may be confidential, and we understand that, but we want to make sure that the team can back up any information in the application.


What criteria do you use to assess impact and sustainability?

It’s not one-size-fits-all. We want to understand the impact for each company on a case-by-case basis.

At this stage, we have more of an action focus than a specific impact goal. We want to see activities that ideally create a huge form of impact. 

The waste industry is a traditional industry. It’s going to take time for companies to embrace innovation and change the ways of doing things.

This is the first run of the accelerator. It’s important that we use this as a platform to get the industry moving.

Over time, we want to develop our own frameworks – essentially grouping companies into specific areas, and measuring those. 


Where do most applications fall down?

One area is validation. It could be validating with users rather than generating revenue – conversations, user studies and so on. 

This is incredibly important to us. We want to know that this is a solution that people want, or that the industry needs.

Too many founders are overly optimistic that if you’ve got a good idea in your head, someone’s going to fund you for it.


If you could say one thing to every startup, what would it be?

Pick a really huge problem. 

Never come to me with just a solution. I’m more interested in the fact that you’ve identified a really big problem –  faced by many people on a large scale – that no one is tackling.

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Joyce Tay

Chief Strategy Officer, StartupX; Program Director, HyperX Global Sustainability Hackcelerator

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