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3 Takeaways From Our First Online SDG Bootcamp


Hoffmann Institute

3 Takeaways From Our First Online SDG Bootcamp

3 Takeaways From Our First Online SDG Bootcamp

MBA students from the winning team of INSEAD’s intensive two-day SDG Bootcamp, share their three takeaways (and their pleasant surprise) over having to experience the elective online.

When we signed up for Professor Jackie Stenson’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) Bootcamp a few months ago, we all expected it to take place in-person. We were ready to dig in and collaborate to design a product that could alleviate some of the challenges present in vulnerable societies. Instead, our team - brought together by a common interest in education - found ourselves interacting online the entire weekend. To our pleasant surprise, the weekend bootcamp ended up being a far more engaging experience than we had thought possible. Through the social entrepreneurship journey of developing Emosi, a product to help educators understand, monitor, and act on their students’ different moods, our team learned three key lessons: 

1. Use the Process & the Tools

While engaging students, the SDG Bootcamp also provided us with the necessary skills and tools to ideate and create innovative solutions for the world’s most pressing problems. Having the right set of tools to facilitate our discussions along the way, along with clear and detailed instructions, helped us focus more on our tasks instead of the potential technical issues or concerns. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were introduced to new technical tools for our virtual collaborations on top of the new process tools. One such tool was Miro, which helped facilitate our interactions, while helping us ideate and brainstorm effectively. In addition, our team also managed to leverage on our diverse perspectives to think of creative solutions.

Ensuring a collaborative environment was established from the get-go, as Professor Stenson began by encouraging everyone to “meet” and introduce our fellow classmates during our session, which was made more convenient through the Zoom virtual breakout rooms.

According to our teammate Dhruv Bindal, he learnt, “How simple it can be to sometimes solve complex problems, but also how big businesses can use these methodologies not only as part of their CSR efforts, but for internal problem solving as well!”

2. Trust the Relationships

By breaking the ice with the initial interactions and in the breakout rooms, it helped us get to know each other better. We got to bond over common goals and realized that we all were excited to dive into creating a compelling value proposition. In addition, these online interactions helped ensure that we were never interrupted if a coach entered our break-out rooms to check in or offer support. Trusting the tools and the people meant that we were able to work on reaching a consensus as a team, with our coach seamlessly being able to provide her inputs while gently nudging us towards an agreeable solution.

Recalling her experience on how the team was able to work together based on their individual expertise and strengths, Susan Liu explained, “Josiah first did this by sharing his personal experience with orphaned children in Indonesia, painting a picture of the students we would ultimately be helping. Dhruv and I shared our experiences in the education sector, continuously honing in on educators as the primary users of the product, with administrators to support. Antara made sure that we didn’t forget parents and other stakeholders in the ecosystem.”

3. Focus on the User(s) 

Towards the end of the bootcamp, we realized that Professor Stenson had designed the course keeping the end user – us – in mind. In order to keep us engaged and to minimise any disappointment or stress of experiencing the bootcamp online, she modelled the design process accordingly. In the same vein, our team also kept our focus and product centered around the people we wanted to help, checking in at each stage that our solution would indeed be of constructive use to them. Echoing similar sentiments, our teammate Josiah Liang explained, “I learnt how crucial it is to thoroughly investigate the perspectives and problems of those most affected by the development challenges, before even thinking about solutions to address them.” 

Reflecting on the whole experience of the bootcamp and on our team, Antara Atrey added, “I appreciated that even though it was a fast-paced weekend - from identifying a problem straight to pitching a solid solution in front of judges, it felt as if we had truly spent time thinking through detailed aspects of the problem as well as the solution. I’m very thankful for the wonderful learnings I received both from my thoughtful and inclusive classmates, as well as our inspiring coaches.”

From the initial team introductions to the final pitches (and our final win!), we can confidently say that the SDG Bootcamp was meaningful, rewarding, and most of all, fun. We are incredibly grateful to Jackie and the coaches for the encouragement and energy they put in, to thoughtfully design one of our most engaging INSEAD weekend experiences. 


The SDG Bootcamp is a two-day, hands-on, immersive learning experience to arm future business leaders with tools for developing entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Working together in small teams in an intense environment, students define realistic, actionable challenges that address the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while using a clear process and toolkit for developing scalable solutions that positively impact people, planet, and prosperity. The SDG Bootcamp process and toolkit can be leveraged in future business environments, enabling students to integrate business principles with creating positive social impact, and preparing them to be the business leaders of tomorrow.

Four teams participated in this year’s SDG Bootcamp course, and worked on diverse issues facing the world today. Below is a summary of the problems and solutions tackled during the June 2020 SDG Bootcamp by these innovative teams.


Energyegg aims to solve three key issues that occur during the adoption of smart energy monitoring and saving systems: (1) Lack of awareness of the existence of smart home appliance monitoring systems, by creating awareness of the need for better energy transparency at home. (2) Risk of buying and installing a $300 tool in homes, by educating households about potential energy savings and shifting the risk away from the consumer by installing the product for free, charging only based on future cumulative energy savings. (3) Lack of partnerships for upgraded appliances and poor insulation, which Energyegg can provide to households through low interest financing or coupled with future energy savings.


COVID-19 has caused single-use plastic use to surge, with more people ordering food delivery. In Singapore, an additional 1,334 tonnes of plastic waste was generated from take-away and food delivery containers during the two-month circuit breaker. Biodegradable packaging materials such as BioPak and eco u are yet to be adopted on a large scale or simply end up in existing landfills or incinerators. While the food delivery process has many stakeholders, food delivery companies as the shared platform delivering this service have the most power to implement a more sustainable method of food delivery. Grabbawala is a closed-loop system for the use of reusable containers, distributing reusable takeaway containers in standardised shapes and sizes to participating outlets and creating process for these containers to be used for delivery, returned by customers, and washed for reuse.


Many Indonesian primary school students, particularly those from disadvantaged or broken family backgrounds, enter school with socio-emotional development and behavioural issues that hinder their classroom participation and learning. There is a need to better equip their teachers to effectively elicit and interpret these students’ socio-emotional indicators, and select relevant response strategies, so that these students’ learning journeys do not end before they even have a chance to begin. Emosi provides an online platform that captures students’ mood and behavioural indicators, and combines these with ongoing research into socio-emotional development to provide teachers with actionable insights that allow them to help all children in the classroom learn.


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) make up 41M deaths globally and 68% of deaths in the Philippines every year. Risks to developing NCDs can be greatly mitigated through behavioral modifications in tobacco use, alcohol consumption, diet, and physical activity. In lower income communities, poor habits in these areas are more prevalent and the costs associated to NCDs are often devastating for lower income patients and their families. YADA aims to reduce the prevalence of NCDs in the slums of the Philippines by raising awareness, promoting preventative behavioral changes, and diagnosing NCDs. Local community members will be trained as YADA Community Managers (YCMs) responsible for these activities, and to build trusted relationships with slum residents, and to provide community-based health insurance, treatments, and nutritional products in the future. By empowering local community members, YADA’s efforts will not only be more effective in combating NCDs, but will also result in job growth and economic development.

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