by Soh Han Chong Andy (Singapore Management University)
My name is Andy Soh a third year student from Singapore Management University (SMU). My first inspiration of being an entrepreneur came during my second year of study at SMU. I was attending a course named “Technology and World Change” by Prof Pamela Lim. This course taught me on how innovation came about in today’s world and convinced me to take on the entrepreneur route.
When I was in my polytechnic days, I do not have a goal in life. I enrolled in the course named Diploma in Multimedia and Info Communication because of 2 reasons. The first reason was that my teachers in secondary school advised me to do something related to technology. The second reason was that the sales guy has given me a good pitch during the polytechnic open house and I am convinced by him that the course is the right track for me. This has taught me a painful lesson as I ended up regretting what I have studied.
Because of this course, I aspired to be a programmer which specialized in Multimedia solutions. However, deep down inside my empty heart, I know that this is not what I wanted to achieve.
After I graduated from Polytechnic, I went on to serve National Service. I was given an opportunity to pursue a career in the air force as a commission officer. My parents and friends supported it and I have to make the biggest decision of my life at that point of time. In the end, I chose not to pursue the career and go for further education instead which explains why I ended up here in SMU. I’ve never looked back since.
I have to be really thankful to SMU. My three years here have given me great friends, networks and professors who are really supportive and helpful. The real opportunity came when I attended another course conducted by Prof Pamela Lim. The course name, “Technological Entrepreneurship and Opportunity Identification” speaks for itself. This course provides the basic knowledge and foundation which all entrepreneurs need to be equipped with before embarking on their start ups. Besides that, this course provides the opportunity for all teams and students an opportunity to start a business of their own.
My team and I are in the process of setting up a Non Profit Organization in Singapore. Leading a team of 8 people in total, we embarked on our journey. We started by going around looking for support and did our own research to understand the market. However, life as an entrepreneur is never easy. The learning curve is steep with little time to execute especially when we found out that there are possible competitors onboard. Being a young start up, there is little credibility for us as well. To set up a nonprofit organization, what it needed most would be credibility.
As a result, we find it extremely hard to talk to people and even potential partners. People have difficult trusting us as a young start up especially when they know that we are a team of students.
Apart from that, being young and inexperienced, we make multiple mistakes along the way. For example, we gave a softcopy of our business plan to a potential partner and in the end, the business plan was circulated around and the secret of our business model is being exposed. Through this process, we learnt an important lesson. We have to be more careful in our distribution of important documents. Apart from that, we suffered multiple criticisms and destructive feedback from various people in different industries. We have to take in all comments with an open mind and move on.
In life, there are always such “negative” people around who can potentially bring you down. The most important part of it is to bring back the pointers and learn from it.
There are multiple skill sets which an entrepreneur needs to have. First of all, it is networking. Entrepreneurs have limited resources and as a result we need the help of others. We would never know these people who we network with are able to assist or help us in our business in future. Therefore, having a good network of friends is extremely important. Secondly, entrepreneurs must have an open mind. Entrepreneurs face rejections as well as criticisms all the time. The important part here is to take back the comment and seek to improve
I believe that to start entrepreneurship at the age of 24 is the perfect time for me. People of my age have nothing to lose especially when I am still a student. The only thing that I can possibly lose would be my time. I am really fortunate to be able to start young and be given with multiple opportunities to start a business.