Class of 2018 Insights: Yi Chen Chong


In our 2nd Class of 2018 Insights series, we hear from Yi Chen about "learning by doing" at Endevvr. -Martin


“We should just build a bunch of cubes and stack them together like a rectangular prism!”

“No, triangles are the strongest shape! The spaghetti has to be made stronger!”

To the casual observer, this conversation would seem to have started with a slight bit of sanity and then to have devolved to utter lunacy. But such was our task.

We had 20 minutes to build a tower with spaghetti and tape, before crowning its tip with a marshmallow.

After some discussion, we settled upon a general tripod concept for the design: three spaghetti beams formed in a pyramidal shape. We quickly set upon building. Upon taping the beams together, we noticed that the beams seemed to splay outwards, so we decided to build a triangular base to support the beams. When we were finished, we stuck the marshmallow on the top, and waited. It stood.

Some of the groups around us were not so lucky.

But no matter what happened, we learned. We all came in believing that spaghetti was weak and marshmallows were light, and all came out knowing the weight of marshmallows, and the potential strength of spaghetti.

In the same way, we also learned about our groups. Perhaps the quiet, shy member of a group happened to be the most insightful. Or perhaps there were hidden talents in someone that we did not see. And sometimes we even learned about ourselves. But the important thing is that we have learned.

In the same way, we learned about our respective fields, refining and testing our ideas and assumptions, slowly getting at the heart of what we’re trying to solve. Using an ensemble of frameworks, we put our hypotheses to the test, and slowly developed our business ideas and models. We’ve come up with different ideas for solving our problems, slowly prototyped them and tested them, ending up with different ideas every iteration.

This entire concept has also applied to the many business skills we have learned. The first time we interviewed a speaker, there was a lot of room for improvement. Our delivery was either too rapid and unintelligible or slow and laggy. The flow of the conversation stopped up regularly, leading to awkward silences. We had no idea what to talk about. But slowly, we learned, first just by learning to introduce ourselves to potentially helpful people, and then developing into full-length conversations and exchanges.

Currently, my company is trying to mitigate the effects of the opioid epidemic by increasing public access to a pharmaceutical that stops opioid overdoses, named Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride). One current idea we have is to create boxes, similar to AED boxes, stationed around buildings near opioid-death hotspots, so that bystanders can access it during emergencies, and potentially save lives. We built a minimal viable product, designed testing experiments to simulate response times, and have been rapidly prototyping. Our concept of the product has definitely been improving each time.

That’s how we have approached learning the entire program, and after Endevvr, I know I will be able to apply this approach to future endeavours. Coming in with preconceived notions and hypotheses, doing, and leaving with tested data. We even used to think that learning was a one-shot deal, but now we understand the iterative process. It’s been a very genuine and meta learning experience.

Martin Miller