The name Magdeline Huang most likely will not ring any bells. Yet. This budding mind is an undergrad with a mission. A mission that is, to take the tech world by storm. The very personification of the term “girl boss” and champion of New Zealand’s Red Bull Basement University competition at its national level , Magdeline’s innovative mind is on its way to completely obliterating glass ceilings for women in the male dominated industry of IT everywhere.
Read about her ideas behind Temp, an unapologetic novelty designed by Magdeline that redefines brilliance.
1. Hello, Magdeline! Can you give our readers a brief introduction about yourself in general?
Hello! I’m Magdeline, a Chinese Malaysian living in New Zealand. After I completed UPSR and graduated from primary school, I moved here and started fresh in high school. I am now in university studying Computer Science and Entrepreneurship.
I’m very interested in tech and business – I believe that the synergy between the two is the driving force behind advancements in this world. To enrich and supplement my learning, I often get myself involved in a lot of tech and entrepreneurial events and programmes. I am the 2020 leader of a university club for females in STEM and also a consultant in an investment committee. As a woman in tech, I am passionate about closing the gender gap in technology.
Outside the realm of tech and business, I enjoy immersing myself in the arts. I am a huge fan of music, be it listening to music, singing, or playing musical instruments. I also enjoy photography and making vlogs of my travel adventures!
2. What made you decide to participate in the Red Bull Basement University competition this year?
Red Bull Basement University is a competition where students find innovative tech solutions to student problems. Because of how the competition combines tech and entrepreneurship, it was pretty much a no brainer for me to apply!
3. Tell us more about your innovation, Temp. Is there any specific meaning or story behind the name?
Temp is a platform where students can list and hire items from each other. Temp’s mission is to create a sharing culture which promotes sustainability, help students save and earn money, and foster a wholesome, helpful community. By sharing items around, students are addressing over-consumerism and contributing to sustainability. By hiring someone’s item, students don’t have to pay as much as for brand new ones. By listing an item to be hired, students can earn some cash from what they have. By sharing items around, you feel good about it and it creates this warm fuzzy feeling because sharing is caring.
I hope this sharing culture can take away the stress that comes with buying and selling items as well as money worries so that students have more time to focus on important things like studying and socializing. In order to enhance the customer’s experience, Temp uses AI for image search, recommending complementary items and listing prices.
A lot of people ask me about the meaning behind the name actually! “Temp” is short-form for “temporary” which is the fundamental premise of Temp – temporary ownership of items. I decided to shorten “temporary” to “temp”, something quick and easy to say, to reflect how quick and easy this process of listing and hiring is meant to be. Also, “temp” does sound very unique and people tend to remember unique names like Uber, Slack etc.
4. It’s not an easy task to pitch an innovative solution specially for the act of change. Can you bring us through your creative journey while creating Temp to what it is today?
I came up with the idea for Temp because I would always find myself in situations where I needed something for a one-off occasion, and didn’t want to waste money buying it only to use it once, especially since money is scarce as a student. Additionally, I have a few valuable items lying around that I feel are not being utilized often enough by me. At the same time, I know there are people out there who would benefit from using them.
With a lot of support from Red Bull NZ and the various companies I worked with, a prototype for Temp was able to be created.
Below is a screenshot of Temp:
5. What are some of the struggles you faced during the process of developing Temp?
I definitely faced a lot of struggles during the development phase! After I was announced as the National Winner for New Zealand, I only had about 4 weeks to develop Temp and create a prototype to present at the Global Workshop in Toronto, Canada.
Due to the short time frame and various other events that were happening in my life, I would say time management was the biggest struggle. 4 weeks is not a lot of time, and while I was working on developing Temp, I was also undertaking an internship project remotely. I had gotten this internship project prior to my winning the competition so the fact that it coincided with my development phase is just unfortunate timing.
Additionally, there were a lot of other admin details to deal with such as visa application for Canada, media interviews, and a whole bunch of communications between various parties. Never once having an issue with maintaining an inbox of zero, I now find myself having to sort through the inundation of emails daily!
I am the sole founder of Temp which means I have had to do and manage everything alone. While this had its benefits such as learning to be independent and no co-founder conflicts, it did mean I had to rely on myself for motivation and discipline to get work done, especially when things got overwhelming.
6. What makes Temp different from the rest of the given innovative suggestions and ideas at the Global Workshop?
All the other finalists’ ideas were amazing and innovative, but I’d say that Temp is different in the fact that it’s a simple and practical idea that not only applies to students but just people in general.
I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to having to buy something only to use it once! Quite relevantly, I bought a NZ to Canada adapter and I probably won’t be using it anytime soon! In times like these, being able to just rent one for a few days on Temp would make life much easier.
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Also, I’m sure I’m not the only one with things just gathering dust and not being used. When was the last time you rode on that scooter you had as a kid?
7. So, you were recently in Toronto, represented New Zealand for the global stage of the competition. How did you feel competing with other winners from 27 countries?
I feel very grateful and privileged to be competing with all the other incredible and talented winners from across the globe!
I am also proud to be a young solo female team, proud to be a woman in tech, proud to be able to bring New Zealand to the centre stage, and proud to be a Malaysian representing New Zealand.
1) Young solo female team: I hope I can inspire other women to know that yes, they can go out there and do great things. Go girl bosses!
2) Woman in tech: To be able to represent women in tech as a finalist, and share my idea on how I want to create change for the better in this world, is a really incredible experience.
3) Bring New Zealand to the centre stage: This is the first time New Zealand has participated in this global competition, so to be the first one to represent New Zealand and bring it to the centre stage is an honour.
4) Malaysian representing New Zealand: Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room – how come the finalist representing New Zealand is Asian? What may seem unrepresentative of New Zealand at first is actually representative of the diversity of cultures and ethnicities in New Zealand. When you think of Asia, Malaysia may not be the first country you think of. I am privileged to bring Malaysia to the centre stage too!
8. What have you learned or gained after participating in the Red Bull Basement University Global Workshop?
A lot, really, a lot. It was a surreal experience; one I will never forget. I would describe the event as not just a competition but also a convocation for ambitious and innovative minds. All the workshops and activities were specially curated, and to describe the speakers as inspirational is an understatement.
I learnt a lot but to keep it short, two quotes I want to share are “Use rejection as fuel” by Red Bull Athlete Will Gadd and “Perfectionism is what impedes social innovation” by Professor Nouman Ashraf.
One of the most mind-blowing experiences I had was to be interviewed by Espree Devora for her Women in Tech podcast. I say it’s mind-blowing because I was already a listener of her podcasts before so to now have my own episode on it is just beyond me!
9. By having Temp selected as the national winning idea out of the top 5 in the selection pool, how do you feel about your success? What are your proudest achievements?
I feel incredibly happy, grateful, and proud! My response to Question 7 also answers this. I want to thank every body who voted for my idea during the voting phase. It’s because of everyone’s support that Temp was able to make it into the top 5 in the selection pool!
10. Are you planning to launch Temp as an official app in the future or are you going to treat it as a general idea to the public?
I will definitely want to launch Temp as an official app in the future. I will be working on it further in 2020.
If any people would like to get involved, be it mentors, investors, developers, designers, or just anyone with suggestions on how Temp can be improved for customers, please message me on LinkedIn.