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Associate Professor Pina Marziliano – “Get in the Ring Singapore” pitching competition


NTU EEE Associate Professor Pina Marziliano, together with her 2 companies, a NTU EEE spin-off and an independent start-up, participated in the pitching competition, “Get in The Ring Singapore” on September 14, 2017. It was the last event of the one-year anniversary of the Start-Up & SME Academy (SSA). Prof Marziliano’s companies – where she is co-founder – are called PABensen and BIORITHM. They were among the top 6 out of 24 start-ups selected for the competition. 

1) What was the experience like for your teams in participating in this event? Why did you decide to participate in it?
“Our overall experience was very positive. Each start-up was given one minute to introduce themselves and their business followed by five 30-second rounds on: 

  1. Team,
  2. Achievements,
  3. Business Model & Market,
  4. Financials & Investment Proposition, and
  5. Freestyle.

Before the pre-selection, there was a coaching session to help participants with their pitches. This was quite beneficial as it allowed participants to pick out the most important information regarding their product. The next component of the event was to present our products to pre-selection jury members. Both of my companies’ products that were presented – PABensen’s Cube-It Toys and BIORITHM’s Fetal Monitor were among the 6 shortlisted out of the 24, and were pre-selected for the finals! We were very nervous for the final round in the ring as it involved pitching our products not only in front of high-profile jury members (such as the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei, the former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, lawyers, and successful entrepreneurs) but also in front of a large crowd. On top of that, we had to pitch without using any multimedia equipment! 

I decided to participate in this event as it was the last of a series of events organised by the Start-Up & SME Academy that I have been regularly attending since September last year. It was, for me, like the final test of an academic course and making it to the final round of the competition, that alone was a very big satisfaction and I reckon quite an achievement for one who never studied business.”

2) What benefits do you think you all got from this event?
“Participating in this event created visibility of our respective products, as well as allowed us to perfect our pitches and get valuable feedback from business leaders, investors and other attendees.”

3) What can aspiring entrepreneurs learn from this?
"What can be learned is that one should always try to push themselves to have new experiences and to take every opportunity to get out of their comfort zone. It may be difficult but there are only things to gain as it gives one the opportunity to grow and learn from experiences. 

As an academic, we often get caught up in our own world of academic activities, that we lose sight of other things and miss out on opportunities which are challenging in different aspects. We take for granted that there is still so much to learn about oneself and from others.”

4) What inspired you to start PABensen and BIORITHM? 
For my start-up, PABensen: 
During my undergraduate studies in mathematics at l’Université de Montréal, Canada, a friend from the ergonomic design department proposed for us to take a painting workshop offered by an artist from Ecuador and the spouse of a visiting professor in her department. At first, I said, “Forget it, I am a scientist and do not have any artistic talent in my veins”. But because I was interested in learning Spanish, I gave it a try and it was the most fulfilling feeling that I experienced. Since then, I have been interested in the arts. I attended more painting workshops, and learned pottery but most of all, I express my artistic side in cooking, as cooking is really a combination of science and art. In 2012, I met my husband, Peter Arnoud Bensen, a Dutch artist and designer and we co-founded PABensen, a design company that strives to create thought-provoking works and innovative functional products that bridge the fields of Art and Science. 

For my NTU EEE spin-off company, BIORITHM:
In 2001, I completed my PhD in the AudioVisual Communications Laboratory (LCAV) at EPFL, Switzerland, after which I worked for a start-up company for a year and then when the bubble burst, it was time for me to move on. When I joined NTU in 2003, I decided to continue my research in signal and image processing but I wanted to make a difference in humanity, and hence decided to focus my research on biomedical applications. Over the past decade, I have had the good fortune to work together with dedicated doctors who provided the medical problems, as well as with talented students who were capable to find solutions by developing algorithms. BIORITHM was co-founded with one particular NTU EEE graduate, Mr. Amrish Nair, and one particular doctor, Prof. David Foo Chee Guan, Head of Cardiology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.

5) Where do you go from here?
“Both PABensen and BIORITHM are focusing on bringing their respective products, Cube-It Toys and Fetal Monitor, to the market. As for me personally too, I will continue to share, with my students, colleagues, family and friends, my belief that with positive energy and good will, everything is possible.”



Get in the Ring Singapore video clips   
Introduction of Get in the Ring Singapore 
Pitch of PABensen’s Cube-It Toys by Mr Peter Arnoud Bensen 
Pitch of Biorithm’s Fetal Monitoring by Prof Pina Marziliano
Final Round

For more info on Biorithm and PABensen, visit their websites.

Published on: 18-Dec-2017

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