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Is Singapore a paradise to start a business?

Some thoughts for young entrepreneurs in Asia.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to help organise an event for ESSEC Asia-Pacific Business School in Singapore where I had studied. My goal was to share some of my experience inside the entrepreneur ecosystem here with my friends and students still studying.

I invited my co-worker Jacqui & Florian Cornu (Entrepreneur in Residence at VC Majuven and Curator at SaaS Business in Asia) to share their thoughts.

Jacqui Hocking — Creative Director at Gone Adventurin’ & Florian Cornu — Entrepreneur in Residence at VC Majuven

First Question: How do you become a successful entrepreneur in Singapore?

Young and fresh-faced, Flo from France & Jacqui from Australia arrived in Singapore to launch their businesses whilst only in their early-twenties.

A few years later, and their organisations are now doing big business with major clients as well as innovating & funding local SMEs and startups. Using Singapore as their hub, they have traveled around Asia and beyond through their work & had the opportunity to meet with TED Speakers, MIT fellows, Ashoka alumni & other inspiring entrepreneurs from around the globe.

But it didn’t happen overnight.

Their few first months were hard. They had no landmarks. There were no other companies to look up too, no one had walked their path before. When their companies were founded, they didn’t know who to approach, or how.

So how much time do you need to build a network in a new region? When can you expect to sign your first big deal? Is it easy to hire, fire and make a company grow in Singapore? How do you launch and sustain a business in Singapore? Why Asia?

They answered those questions & more, while sharing tips & explaining the challenges they faced.


Lessons from a Filmmaker

Session 01

With a background in documentary filmmaking, Jacqui — 25 years old — has found the way to combine her creative skills as a filmmaker and her passion for social & environmental causes by starting a social enterprise.

The company, Gone Adventurin, aims to bridge companies, consumers and communities through inspiring media content (documentaries, videos, stories etc.) covering adventures across South East Asia.

Speaking about how there was no blue-print or example of a similar business which Gone Adventurin’ could take reference from, she encourages young potential entrepreneurs to find clarity in what you want to achieveand why before launching any products or services. According to her, the one key thing for any entrepreneur is passion;

“You have to do what you love! And love what you do.

…otherwise, why do it?”

Passion is an essential driver of success, which applies to every job. For Gone Adventurin’, they modelled what they loved into a business.


Story of an Entrepreneur

Session 02

Florian started Flocations with other like-minded individuals that he found through Startup Weekend in Singapore, a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs. At the beginning, their main challenge was to get enough traction. And because of this difficulty, they had to modify their business model.

After a year, he decided to sell his shares to pursue his other dreams. He is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at Majuven VC Fund. He encourages young / potential entrepreneurs to:

“Clearly identify what your passion is, what you want to do, and adjust your plans accordingly to focus & work towards this goal.”

He listed a great collection of useful online resources for getting to know the startup scene in Singapore better, including:

· Tech in Asia: an online news site that covers breaking technology news and interesting startup stories in Asia.

· e27: one of the leading blogs that covers topics like the latest technology innovation, startups and entrepreneurship in asia.

· The List: a platform that gathers all the great events related to entrepreneurship, books, networking, design, arts, travels and technology.

· The HUB Singapore: a co-working space for social enterprises in Somerset MRT, where they also sell one of the best coffees in town — Chris Cafe.

· Pozible: a crowdfunding platform and community for creative projects and ideas.


Tips and Advice

on starting a business

“BE COMMITTED AND CONVINCED THAT YOU ARE THE BEST”

Florian stressed the importance of being committed to what you are doing, as this will convince people to start believing in you. Entrepreneurship is a risk-laden journey filled with many obstacles along the way, and few people will be willing to take the risk and follow through with their business ideas. Thus, being able to demonstrate commitment lends a lot to an entrepreneur’s credibility.

“PEOPLE INVEST IN PEOPLE, NOT IN COMPANIES”

According to Jacqui, people invest in people, not companies. For her, being located in Singapore has incredible potential for companies as it gives companies access to 13 countries in the region. Also, the government’s commitment to encourage entrepreneurship through financial support and various initiatives makes the city-state a favourable place for people to start a business.


The Skills Needed

to become an entrepreneur

  1. Good Attitude and Strong Commitment
  2. Open Mindedness
  3. Curiosity
  4. Capacity to Adapt to any Situation
  5. Ability to find & support a solid team

As Jacqui said, “it is important to step out of your boundaries and have the confidence in what you are doing.

“We don’t know what our potential is until we try and discover it!”


Do not hesitate to reach Jacqui and Florian via twitter:

@Jacqui_Hocking & @floriancornu


Article written by Paula Miquelis for Essec Business School Singapore

Paula Miquelis
paula@goneadventurin.com

Born and raised in Nice – South East of France, my irrepressible curiosity and passion for travels lead me to move to Paris, Hong Kong and finally Singapore where I now work for Gone Adventurin’ as a project manager. I strongly believe in harnessing storytelling to inspire actions for social goods. I’m also passionate about photography and photojournalism.

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