Student Feedback

From laptop seller to the laying the foundations of an online community

By May 21, 2020July 6th, 2020No Comments

by Melvin (SMU)

I think I share similar thoughts as alot of other people when I realized that this course expected us to setup our own business. I applied for this course thinking that it will give me some lessons to help me with building up my own business in future and boy did it far far exceed my expectations.

Since young, I have always thought that it will be “cool” to be my own “boss” some day, but I always wondered where to start, and how to start? Eventually, this idea got lost out there, somewhere in the deeper recesses of my mind as I trudged through 3 years of course work, a year’s internship, contract jobs etc. I sort of gotten “side tracked” into building up my resume like everyone else and aimming to get that nice comfy job (not in the finance sector though).

When I saw this course on BOSS (our SMU course bidding system), I just thought that “oh… another one of those entrepreneurship courses…” But this time, it seemed to fit my requirements very well. I decided to just apply for it. Anyway, its my last semester in SMU and I wanted to try something more interesting…

This was the start of getting my questions I raised earlier answered, the how to startwhat to do, where to go, who to see, questions.

At first, I did share with some of my group members some of my business ideas which I had thought are quite unique and interesting. However, they seemed too complicated and nearly impossible to pull off within the short time frame which was given to us by professor Pamela.

Eventually, we approached her for some advice and she told us why not go sell some laptops, earn a small profit, get some experience of doing a business and keep the money as pocket money. My team and myself thought why not. Seems easy enough and probably we will be able to earn a few hundred from it.

This marks the start of a long journey which I am far from completing. We started thinking harder about our idea and it seems that the more we discussed, the more question marks seem to appear and what’s worse, these question marks seem to be growing bigger and bigger. We realized that a simple problem like selling laptops wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought it would. Questions such as what modes of transaction will we accept, how will we gain credibility, how do we get our supplies, which models will be in demand cropped up and we realized that we did not have good answers for it. However, what we did was to start tackling these questions one at a time and to slowly but eventually work through all of it and come up with a more refined business idea. But right when we thought this new refined idea was so much better, Prof told us something that will end up throwing everything in the air again.

From selling laptops, this time we were to consider our business vehicle. We were originally planning to sell the laptops as a private limited but then Prof suggested that we look at this business vehicle known as a cooperative. So we went to look up the Singapore National Cooperative Federation and asked told them about our business plan and asked them for their feedback. To cut a long story short, we decided that a cooperative would suit the needs of our business better.

Once we decided on this we needed to relook at how we were to planning to do our business. Many more ideas were introduced and we sifted through it all to finally come up with our business plan to submit for approval by the ministry of community youth and sports. This is the first baby steps and there will be many more to come of setting up this cooperative.

For the final business idea, we have incorporated what we thought was the best as well as think about what is feasible and what will not be and to put all those feasible good ideas down on paper and put it as our startegy and direction. We decided that we will be building an online community for SMU. We will be developing a website similar to facebook for our community and this web portal will aim to plug gaps which are currently present in our school. Well I cannot put too much details up on the site as this is public but people who actually decided to look through this long long story and read more about my journey and are interested to hear what my team and I are planning to do, please email me. I will be glad to answer any questions you might have there.

To end off, the business has not yet taken off. In fact, the “aircraft” is just starting to be constructed and prototype been developed. I intend to see this idea to the end, to develop the system, build the community and see how far I can push this. I will definitely not be able to do this alone and I will need to gather allies to help bring the idea to completion. Well, when this business finally takes off and I get a short section in the Straits Times, I will come back here and write more about the many more things I have learnt.

For now, I’m signing out… Good night everyone….

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