Agrome IQ, Al-Huffaz, Headhunter and Buycour win Brunei Rice Bowl Startup Awards

The four startups set to compete at the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards in KL

Winners from L-R: Buycour, AgromeIQ, Al-Huffaz Management and Headhunter Sport.

Smart farming startup AgromeIQ swept the first Brunei Rice Bowl Startup Awards (BRBSA) – winning both Startup of the Year and Founder of the Year yesterday evening at Progresif’s Headquarters.

Brunei’s first company making bespoke rugby jerseys, Headhunter Sport, took Best Newcomer, while Best Social Impact Startup went to Al-Huffaz Management , who connect local Al-Quran teachers to customer homes. Buycour, a Bruneian website allowing consumers to buy from China, took home the fifth award for Best e-Commerce/Supply Chain Startup.

All four startups will now go onto to compete at the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards (ARBSA) on December 13 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – with those victorious regionally entering the Global Startup Awards next year. This is the first year ARBSA will have representatives from all 10 ASEAN countries.

Agrome IQ founder Vanessa Teo, who dedicated the win to her team and family, are working to provide two smart farming solutions: one through a mobile application for the everyday person looking to grow in their backyard – or even from their apartments – called Sprout IQ and the other a website for commercial farmers named after their brand.

“Right now the Agrome IQ system functions through a web application that provides farmers with the analytics they need to improve their yields,” said Teo, who holds a Ph.D. in High-Performance Computing specializing in Rice Crop Modelling and Agricultural Systems Management.

“We are able to plant sensors within the farms to be able to record data (in real-time) that can be analyzed to provide solutions and management to optimize any farm.”

Sprout IQ – launched earlier in July – is designed for general use, and is currently being socialized at schools, to get the younger generation more aware about farming.

Those signing up pay a one-time fee of $70 to $100 to get the mobile application, which acts as a guide throughout the farming process as well as a beginner’s workshop and a starter pack, which includes seeds to plant.

Al-Huffaz Management founder Hj Mohd Loqman Al-Hakim Hj Hamdan shared that he hopes to continue the momentum he’s built for his matching services – which in the past 11 months has grown from a pool of 30 Al-Quran teachers – mostly unemployed graduates – to over 90, serving on average 500 students through weekly classes.

“We have come a long way from when I was just teaching on my own,” said Loqman. “It has been a privilege not just to teach and help more people understand the Quran, but to help with those who are unemployed to earn an income.”

Headhunter Sport founder Yusuf Flynn, who is looking to aggressively market his rugby jerseys abroad – and already has several semi-professional teams wearing his gear in Europe – said yesterday’s awards have given the Sultanate’s fledgling startup scene an opportunity to not only be recognized locally but also regionally, through the ARBSA platform.

“It’s an honour to be a part of this group (of startups),” said Yusof Flynn. “It (BRBSA) really showcases how much Brunei has out there.”

Amongst yesterday’s distinguished attendees included Progresif CEO Paul Taylor and Rubi Ain-Dahlan, Director of New Entrepreneurs Foundation Malaysia, whose organization founded ARBSA. BRBSA was organized by local startup the Creative Core BN, with Progresif as the strategic partner and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) as the ecosystem partner.

The public was invited to nominate Brunei’s startups, before a round of shortlisting was conducted by a panel which include Google Developers Group Co-Manager Rahimah Yusof, Microsoft Brunei Senior Project Manager Yazid Azahari and local IT start-up Tyne Solutions co-founder Aimi Ramlee.

The winners were then determined by three judges; co-founder of Green Brunei Fatin Arifin, Progresif’s head of product development Radi Al Fassed and co-partner of Shube Co Pg Sarimah Latiff.