by Marilyn Ong (Singapore Management University)
My name is Marilyn Ong, a third year undergraduate from the Singapore Management University (SMU). I started the business HeyChinaTV! through the course, “Technological Entrepreneurship and Opportunity Identification”. This course provides students the opportunity to start a business of their own and to equipped them with the foundation and skills they need for their startup business.
At Week 1, I came in the class not knowing what to expect and what group mates or friends I would meet. The only person I know is Prof Pamela. To my surprise, Andy is the TA. It was pretty a sign of relief as at least I know there’s someone around in the class whom I know of. That pretty much started my first class at TE. I formed a group with a few members in the class. At first, I thought it would be a better idea forming a bigger group so I emailed those people who did not sign up in any groups. Fortunately, I found one! A team of 5, sounds not so bad! At that point of time, I didn’t know what this would bring me. I just thought it would be another project team that I have to work with, and a project to fulfill at the end of the course. Little did I know that it would bring me to a whole new journey for me to explore, for me to achieve.
I always have in mind that I want to work for myself, I want to be an entrepreneur. However, like many others, I feel constraint because of the limited resources I have, the knowledge and the lack of courage to start. I do not have the power of speech like many others do. I can’t speak perfect English. And because of that, I think I don’t score well in school. I do not earn Asssss or A+++ like many others do. So my hopes on getting good grades for this module have somehow, vanished. So I thought, it would be pretty difficult for me to start a business like this. Another reason why I fear of starting one, is for fear that I might not be able to return the money to my parents or my close ones that I owe. Cause those, are their hard earned money. I do not have a good background like many others, and parents who are very supportive of their children being an entrepreneur. Neither do I have parents who can support me with a lot of capital to start my own company, or to do whatever I want. The only thing I know, is that, at the very end of the day, I want to be one. I want to be the one to tell everyone out there, that yes, I’ve finally started.
Being an entrepreneur is never easy. The learning curve is steep when you do not have the knowledge required for the business. Being in this film business, I do not have the required skills for it. I do not know about filming, neither do I have the knowledge about China culture. Besides, being a young looking lady here, there isn’t much credibility to talk about to others. I find it really hard to talk to others, even within the team. My team faced problems at Zhou Kitchen. We booked their private dining room for filming of yusheng but was rejected by the Manager. Even though we explained to him and tried to negotiate with him, he simply refused to let us take out our camera. To me, it shouldn’t be any problem as our intention is to film us eating the yusheng. Isn’t that what customers do too? You dine in a restaurant and you take videos of your friends. I couldn’t understand it at that time. It took me awhile to realize that the Manager probably had difficulty trusting us as a young start up when they see us as students.
So, I would really say it’s really important to have network. We managed to film our videos at a nice dining setting. Having known a few contacts out there, I managed to gain approval to use the places and props from them. It is really needed because as young entrepreneurs like us, we have limited resources and we need a lot of help and advices from others. So remember, do a lot of networking especially in your university years. You will never know that the friend beside you now might be your saviour in the future 🙂
I feel, that the most takeaway I get from this course should be guts. Guts that yes, I can do it, why not? Without this, I think I will still be another SMU Student strolling to class everyday praying that my projects would end soon. I swear I am really glad that I took this journey together with Prof and everyone out there! I really like the structure, I like the people, the comments, the style, the prof and the TA!
Thank you for these wonderful opportunities. Thanks Clement, who is always willing to provide me and my team the insights to adwords etc. Thanks Vincent for shouting my brand name HeyChinaTV! whenever you see me. Thanks Andy for being so supportive of us, and giving us the BRIGHT IDEA of working with Mr Neo. I will definitely want to seize this opportunity! Thanks Prof Pamela, for teaching and guiding Marilyn for the two semesters!
You can ignore or read through briefly the above, but remember this:
IF YOU HAVE THE PASSION, JUST DO IT. (Okay, I know you have heard this 100000 times but it’s true)
Sometimes, I really think I am crazy enough to start this film business. Starting a business sounds easy peasy (yes of course it’s not!) I think I can educate many many people out there. And they enjoy my films! I think I can spread it all over the world and attract people to watch my film every day. Crazy idea, aint it?
The first decision we want to take will always be the heart decision. At times, we always tend to think twice, think and think and think whether it will work out or not, or what will happen if you do it. However, if you keep thinking, you will never be able to start. There are also many others out there who would shoot down your idea and give you negative feedback. Yes, they are important too. But it will only make you fear of doing. Ideas are crazy, they are not rational. Just do it!! Like what Einstein said, “If I had relied solely upon my rational mind, I would never have made the discoveries for which I am famous. If at first an idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
We are the ones that are crazy enough to do it. I like one of Steve Job’s quote, especially this “Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
So start changing the world!!!!
join the HeyChinaTV! network 🙂