The Rise of Game-Changing Startups

Swish | 20 February, 2023

Background on Mistletoe

Kicking off his presentation, Son provided a brief introduction on Mistletoe – a venture ecosystem builder focused on empowering startups and innovators to create a more sustainable future through technology.

Unlike the usual venture capital firm, Mistletoe operates using their own capital, allowing them to take on greater risk when it comes to investing in growth-stage start-ups. Mistletoe hence operates similarly to an angel investing group, and currently supports 247 start-ups and venture funds across 15 countries.

Mistletoe also follows a “cradle to new cradle” approach – providing a greater emphasis on supporting entrepreneurs throughout every stage of the innovation lifecycle, even if it means having to scrap an old project and start anew. Through partnerships with research institutions like Stanford University, Mistletoe has also been able to further research efforts by providing grants and funding to promising researchers, while promoting interactivity among researchers and changemakers to inspire further partnerships.

What are Game-Changing Startups?

Son also went into detail on the rise of ‘game-changing start-ups’ – cross-border startups that are able to make the best of the latest technology to solve universal problems. Some of these start-ups Son talks about include…

Novoloop by Miranda Wang

Novoloop is an upcycling company which focuses on turning post-consumer plastic waste into Novoloop TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane), a durable and flexible material which can be adopted into various process requirements. Through this low-cost upcycling solution, Novoloop has been able to target the issue of plastic pollution while reducing the cost of upcycling.

This low-cost upcycling process has also become a powerful revenue driver for Novoloop, allowing the organisation to secure multiple contracts from both the California local government in upcycling plastic waste from the region, and from On, a Swiss performance sportswear company, through the supply of lower-cost soles.

Instalimb – Yutaka Tokushima

By combining 3D printing and machine learning technology, Instalimb has been able to reduce the cost of production and lead time of prosthetics, providing sustainable and affordable best-fit prosthetics benefitting the lower income in developing countries such as India and Philippines.

Instalimb’s key selling points include an ultra-low cost (<10% the cost of conventional prosthetics), and its ability to create open-sourced designs on 3D CAD through the help of AI, allowing anyone in the world to 3D-print prosthetics for those in need.

Son’s vision for Mistletoe

With the rise of game-changing startups, Son’s vision for Mistletoe is to create a venture ecosystem built around providing the right environment and support for early-stage startups to flourish, while creating new innovations for social impact.

One way Son aims to achieve this is through the launch of Vivita, which aims to promote creative problem-solving using the latest technology. A “Y-combinator for children”, the creativity accelerator functions as a free after-school program for children to learn about robotics, electrical engineer, software development and other fields of their interest, under the guidance of a broad base of mentors within their network.

To date, the creativity accelerator program has seen decent success, amassing more than 10,000 members involved in co-creation, strategy-building and advisory in a number of industries at the grassroots level. Ultimately, Son hopes that Vivita is able to help children apply their creativity to become the main driving force of the world.

The Takeaway : Make Your Own Way

Son ended off his presentation by advising our attendees to carve out their own path and break away from the norm – as it is only by breaking away from mainstream solutions can we begin to think in the similar way as game-changing startups.

This involves taking on a degree of risk in thinking beyond the boundaries of what’s realistic or feasible. And although this path of greater risk may involve some setbacks, it is only by thinking big and keeping your dream in mind can you stay on the path toward individual success.

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