This was the task assigned to us during the early weeks of year 2012. Initially wanting to bid into the class “Technological Entrepreneurship” instead, I hoped that the curriculum for “Entrepreneurship and Business Creation” would not be too theoretical. Over the last 13 weeks, I am happy to say that not only was the class very hands-on, it made my final semester in SMU very much memorable. In Singapore, our youths are faced with constant judgment on their performance; with most performance being judged based on quantitative comparisons. In such an environment, even in the promotion of entrepreneurship, we lose sight of what it means to start a business. Entrepreneurship is not only about winning business plans. It is about acting on the spirit to realize dreams – be it in the arts, sciences or improving social welfare. Over the last 13 weeks, I feel fortunate to have been through such a class, learning lessons that promotes: imagination, compassion and drive. Say goodbye to cliché journals, this will be a personal account of my lessons learnt throughout the past 13 weeks.
grow my own company. At the age of 9, it started off selling Digimon cards to fellow classmates. At 19 years old, it was to help set up my sisterʼs tuition centre. Finally at age 22, I took on a serious stand on making that ambition a reality. Over the past 13 weeks, the module EBC has been a strong driving factor that motivated me to press on to this dream. Rejecting job offers along this semester while friends are all hungry for it; getting advice from veterans, EBC has indeed been a memorable class. THE SITUATION Beginning | Lessons learnt | Conclusion Beginning | Lessons learnt | Conclusion 1 Do not be afraid to ask for help 2 Be savvy 3 If there’s a will, there’s a way 4 It all boils down to execution In an environment free from judgment, youths will rediscover their ability to imagine, to dream big, to create meaning – all these through initiating businesses. Students in Singapore are often inevitably get caught up in the system and lose sight of their innate capabilities. Yet, students are a special group of individuals. With their young age, they have yet to be fully ingrained in a rigid system, and thus possess the imagination and sprit of hope needed to be creators. We have been fortunate to go through a class that breaks away from the rigid teaching style rampant in our country. Instead, we through various assessments such as the video, we were given the chance to rekindle our creativity. OVERALL SENTIMENTS ON THE CLASS CONTENTS OVERVIEW
Be savvy Beginning | Lessons learnt | Conclusion Beginning | Lessons learnt | Conclusion Unexpectedly, early on in the semester, I chose to follow my gut feel and end off the partnership made with my initial founding partner. The problem I made was to partner a guy whom I did not know well, although highly recommended by a good friend. Facing the threat of a lawsuit if I did not consent to his compensation terms, I decided to seek the help from veterans. Technically, these veterans – namely Prof. Pamela Lim, Eddie Chau, Victoria Cha and Vincent Lai – did not have any obligations to help me. Neither was I very close to any of them. All I had was a mere contact information of each of them (perhaps excluding Professor Pamela Lim). But without hesitation, I knew I needed to seek help from those who have “been there, done that” before I came to a decision on how to handle this situation. The move to humble myself down, and ask for help paid off. With the inputs gathered, I managed to convince the ex-partner that his requests were ridiculous. Besides the personal encounter of having the co-founder problem, there were various teaching style through the class that taught me the importance of being savvy in the business world. For example, during the guest speaker session, Vincent shared how when students are first starting out in their business, there will be incidences of “advisors” demanding equity in return for their efforts in providing “clarity for your business. This was the exact case of my problem earlier on. Going through the episodes of Shark’s Tanks in class, as well as more shared on the Facebook group, also showed us how savvy an entrepreneur needs to be. The most memorable episode was that of a mother who managed to probe more angel investors to make an offer. Video link: http://youtu.be/FnAzBlaUVPE
all boils down to execution Learning how to code Purpose Tools Sales generation & Marketing Online & Offline sales channels Profit & loss management Excel HR management Google Forms Project collaboration Dropbox, Google Documents Beginning | Lessons learnt | Conclusion Beginning | Lessons learnt | Conclusion For the project of SPACES, I managed to pick up basic HTML and CSS skills to code a clickable demo. It was witnessing the demonstrations by the TE groups that spurred me to do so. While it was not expected for EBC, I was strangely motivated to have a demonstration to better allow our classmates to understand what SPACES is. As what Prof. Pamela Lim shared during the guest speaker session, learning to code will soon be a necessary skill. Seeing the simple click- through demo, I must say learning to do front-end coding is pretty fun! It will also prevent me from being over-reliant on technical partners whom I do not know very well. I learnt that so long one has the intention to achieve something, it is possible to do so! The demo was coded within a short 6 hours, at the expense of not sleeping at all for a night. In doing up the financial projections and business model, I learnt that starting a business is not only about the initial intention. Most importantly, what makes a startup grow into a successful company is the ability to grind through details and execute nicely. To validate our initial business model of charging by the “pay-per-lead” system might be a bit flawed, our team sought to interview various venue owners for the feedback. Turns out that everyone preferred the commission-based model. This taught me that to start a business means having to get out of the office, and seek feedback from customers. Real execution begins when real interaction with potential or current customers. It is not about sitting by your desk, making hypothetical assumptions as one writes his/her business plan.
if you set out to make money, you will probably not make meaning and you won’t make money.” - Guy Kawasaki Having the opportunity to explore an idea, which I intend to take it further upon graduation is indeed a privilege. It was great fun working with close friends, having their help to think through this idea properly. In relation to the quote above, it is something I hold dearly ever since coming across it back in year 2. Its sentiment is also shared during the guest speakers a few weeks back. In years to come, even if SPACES do not become a success, I hope to bounce back and fulfill the childhood dream of not only starting, but also more importantly to grow a company.