Agoda Leap: Unleashing innovation with Agoda’s entrepreneurship program

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At Agoda, we’re never content to sit still. Continuous growth and learning are at the heart of our culture, and all Agodans are encouraged to pursue their personal development through learning programs and company events like aGROWda. In a quest to foster innovation from within, we launched our newest learning initiative: Agoda Leap, a program that turns employees into true entrepreneurs. Inspired by our CEO Omri Morgenshtern’s belief that “Good ideas can come from anyone,” Agoda Leap offers a platform for employees of all levels to step up, take ownership, and drive positive change in the world of travel. With the expert mentorship of our leaders, participants devise creative concepts and turn their ideas into concrete business plans.

The program kicked off in March, starting with 51 inventive ideas. “We believe it’s critical that we’re constantly challenging ourselves with new hypotheses, experiments, ideas, and continuously learning throughout this process,” shares Omri. With this mindset, the program became a powerful breeding ground for innovation, especially thanks to our mentors.

Learning from the best

Seasoned experts like Senior Product Managers Lynn Hann and Mazin Biviji joined as mentors, helping the teams to refine their ideas and overcome obstacles. “I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the team grow more confident, with each member developing a stronger perspective throughout the process,” shared Mazin. They provided invaluable guidance on market strategies, data utilization, and connected the teams with subject matter experts for even deeper insights. After two months of intense mentorship and training, the participants emerged as confident entrepreneurs, ready to present their ideas to the C Forum.

Taking things to the next level

After two months of expert mentorship and training, the participants emerged as confident entrepreneurs, ready to present their ideas to the C Forum. Five teams stood tall, armed with well-structured presentations, compelling unique selling points, and solid evidence to back up their pitches.

“We started the program with a great concept but without the requisite knowledge needed to convey our vision to potential investors. Through Agoda Leap, we learned the importance of a well-structured presentation that describes the underlying idea, emphasizes its unique proposition, and offers evidence to make investors believe in its potential,” said Karen Hsu, a supply analyst who pitched a business plan for pet boarding.

Staff Data Scientist Shawn Xiao presented a plan for building timesaving meeting solutions, sharing that “Our product evolved with input from every teammate’s unique expertise and the seasoned perspectives of our mentors. From them, I learned so much about polishing our plan and getting investors on board. It was pure teamwork.” For Senior Data Scientist Abe Vallerian, it was the C Forum’s insightful feedback that helped his team to fine-tune their product for optimizing international currency exchanges. “Presenting to the C level was very interesting and a rare opportunity. Their insightful feedback helped shape our product to be more realistic and efficient,” he explained.

Project Manager Sureena Sachdev and Associate Project Manager Vanessa Sim created a pitch to ease the accommodation search for people with chronic illnesses. Sureena described the experience as “extremely insightful, collaborative, and rewarding. I got a chance to collaborate with people and mentors outside of my usual team, which fostered insightful and data-driven entrepreneurial conversations.” Vanessa added that “Agoda Leap was an exciting opportunity to explore beyond my usual scope. Personally, being pushed out of my comfort zone helped me realize some of my opportunities for growth, and it gave me the confidence to try, even when my pessimistic side says otherwise.”

Tips to ace your next pitch

Throughout the journey, Agoda’s core values of taking ownership, experimentation, and being direct and respectful shined brightly, enriching the participants’ learning experience. As the first installment of the program concludes, here are some invaluable pitching tips from the entrepreneurs and mentors:

  1. Seek inspiration from everyday pain points and devise innovative solutions.
  2. Embrace diverse perspectives for insightful feedback and ideas.
  3. Back up your pitch with solid evidence and relevant data to win investor confidence.
  4. Craft a well-structured storytelling approach with a clear key message.
  5. Understand your audience and tailor your presentation accordingly.
  6. Practice, practice, practice – hone your pitch until it shines.
  7. Master the art of an executive summary, focusing on the three most crucial points that you want your audience to remember. 

With Agoda’s collaborative and innovative spirit, the journey of entrepreneurship continues, showing that good ideas truly can come from anyone.

If you’re looking for a workplace to take you beyond your current path, Agoda will be your best journey. We’re hiring!

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