Awards

Only One Malaysian Joined This Silicon Valley Competition—And She Won!

  • Pioneer is a platform built by Daniel Gross to discover and nurture people with talent, ambition and potential.
  • The Pioneer Tournament is a monthly competition where people from anywhere around the world can join with their projects to stand a chance at winning exclusive prizes. 

Daniel joined the prestigious startup accelerator programme Y Combinator at the ripe age of 18 and from then on, he built Cue, a cloud data search engine company that was acquired by Apple for over US$40 million. Today, that powers most of the Spotlight Search feature in Apple’s phones and computers.

Although Daniel understands that talent is everywhere, he mentioned that a lack of opportunities means many of us never get to pursue those passions or indeed, turn them into lucrative businesses.

With that said, Pioneer was born as an experiment to test this idea: that it’s possible to isolate the quality that makes someone exceptional across disciplines or domains, and that it’s possible to create an environment to cultivate this talent.

“We’re trying to build a kind of search engine for finding great people with talent, ambition and potential,” said Daniel Gross.

The Pioneer Tournament

Daniel Gross and Rishi Narang of Pioneer / Image Credit: Pioneer

As most Silicon Valley startup competitions often require you to be there or at least be located in the USA to join, Pioneer is a different in the sense that anyone can join from anywhere in the world.

It begins with a simple application—anyone in the world with an internet connection and an idea can apply to become a Pioneer. Applicants answer a few prompts, offering background about themselves and their projects.

Selecting “pioneers” will begin with a month long online tournament. With every month having a new round and new winners. Winners will be selected based on the number of points accumulated and there will be multiple winners each batch.

The candidates will vote on each other’s projects, points will be awarded and there will be a leaderboard. Subject experts will also vote, with their votes counting somewhat more than the candidates’.

With the prize of US$1,000 to spend however you’d like, US$6,000 in Stellar Lumens, US$100,000 in Google Cloud credits, a free round-trip plane ticket to Silicon Valley and mentorship from some of the world’s most successful individuals, it’s a great opportunity.

Seeing such a great opportunity, Malaysian entrepreneur and author Eibhlin Lim thought that she should give it a try and signed up.

A Malaysian Pioneer

Eibhlin’s first taste of the tournament wasn’t sweet as she wasn’t chosen as one of the “pioneers” but she managed to become one of the winners during her second try in October 2018, and she became the first Malaysian to win the Pioneer Tournament.

Eibhlin joined the tournament with her book, The Phoenix Perspective, which is filled with life stories of successful individuals from different industries, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them.

Image Credit: Eibhlin Lim

She hopes to inspire others especially the urban poor and rural students without Internet access around the world with the stories of these individuals.

“I submitted my book project for the tournaments and each week I provided them with updates such as the number of new schools I managed to reach out to, the number of books I managed to get sponsored for the students and the invitation I received to speak at TEDxYouth@Tokyo,” she explained.

She never expected that she would be winning the tournament as she had to go up against participants who were doing projects such as AI traffic lights, watches for the blind, and many more.

“Don’t be intimidated if your project is not as ‘sexy’ as the others—if you are passionate about what you are doing and have impressive goals and updates each week, you stand an equal opportunity to win,” said Eibhlin.

For those interested to join, Eibhlin has a few tips to share. As updates are reported weekly, she learnt from other participants to improve the way how she describes her project to make it more concise and clear.

“Also, a participant introduced me to the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals system—I didn’t know about that prior to then so I am happy to be able to learn something new,” she added.

At the end of the day, Eibhlin believes that Pioneer provides participants a platform to share their experiences working on projects with other like-minded and equally passionate individuals around the world.

“It’s more than just the transfer of knowledge, it also helps to create a sense of community for people who are going through the same things as yourself and even though, we don’t know each other and we’re all from different countries, we can relate and connect to one another through that,” said Eibhlin.

“I think that’s just simply beautiful and absolutely amazing.”

  • The Phoenix Perspective is on sale until the end of February 2019; Vulcan Post readers can get it at an additional 20% off with the code VULCANPOST2019.
  • You can read our previous coverage on Eibhlin Lim here

Feature Image Credit: Eibhlin Lim

 

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