Submitted by Anggono Natalnugroho, Co-Chair of the Marketing & Entrepreneurship Club
About twenty entrepreneurial like-minded people, an equal mix of MBA and graduate students, attended the StartMEup session last Friday, 21 November, at The Nest Theatre, Innovation Center. This event is organised by the Marketing & Entrepreneurship (ME) Club, supported by NTUitive, the university’s innovation and enterprise company. StartMEup aims to seed collaboration between business graduates and technologists, and meets them up with startups and support networks all over Singapore.
Swarnajeet Mukherjee, a serial entrepreneur, opened the session with the keynote topic “Turn Ideas into Action”. He suggested the importance of starting a business before a venture. Essentially, it means a startup should start as early as possible executing the idea, getting initial customers, serving them the best we can, getting feedback from them, then once the business is stable, we may start to think about a venture, i.e. getting funding from venture capitalists, etc. Another important thing he stressed on is about partnership. For instance, if we start a business selling an innovative pencil, then our impact will be amplified if we can also partner with a startup who sells books. Partnering with complementary product is a way to scale up our business faster. Think this as Network Economy.
The second guest was Fang Kok Boon, chief executive of Blacksmith, the world’s first rotary 3D printer startup. He spoke on the topic of sharing secret ideas. In short, we should not be paranoid in sharing our ideas to everyone, with only two exceptions — Do not share your idea with a venture capitalist who invests in startups like yours, and do not share to those who have the same area of interest as you, obviously. About Blacksmith, he was inspired by an old turntable record player when prototyping the rotary 3D printer by himself at home. Supported by NTUitive, he successfully funded his idea via Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform, in just June this year. Currently in production, this 3D printer will be sold at $2,999. Pretty reasonable, right?
The third speaker was Steve Wah, CEO of Smoov, an online payment gateway like Paypal, but focuses on SME in the Southeast Asia region (now operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines). You would think that it is crazy to get into an already fragmented payment apps market. However, Smoov’s offering is not just another app. It offers a very unique proposition, a platform for SME, which would not be taken away even by Apple Pay or Google Wallet. A very sound business model, just like what we learn as business students about strategy.
The final speaker of the session was Frankie Lee, representing NTUitive. He explained about the technology and support available from the Innovation Center. This is the guy you want to talk to if you plan to start your own business after graduation. NTUitive has been established for a very long time and enjoyed success from the beginning (at that time it was under the name of NTU Ventures). Frankie is a Nanyang MBA alumni and owns more than 2 startups since graduated. You can tell he is very passionate about entrepreneurship. Most of the attendees came to connect with him after the event.
The ME Club realises that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Perhaps very few of MBA participants will start up their own business after graduation. Nevertheless, NTU offers many opportunities for startups. Hence, the ME Club tries to optimise the available resources, technology, funding and network of talents for developing an entrepreneurship culture in the Nanyang MBA. We hope it can inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The ME Club Co-Chairs would like to thank Vivek Negi (the last minute MC), Trung, Jiajia, and Liu Lei for their ideas, feedback and moral support, and NTUitive for connecting us to the startups.
For more information about Nanyang Business School click here.