by Priscila Lin (Singapore)
“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. ” – Andy Warhol
Honestly speaking, I bidded for this module out of necessity, and because of the fact that Technological Entrepreneurship is a non-examinable module. Even on the first class, I had my reservations- there were already so many entrepreneurs in the class. Plus, the name of this module was enough to put me off, as I could not resonate with both words. I personally didn’t feel that I’m cut out to be an entrepreneur, as I always thought that working for a big MNC would be the way to go. However, things changed for the better when I realized that the group I was being assigned had a very refreshing idea- Pop Art Business! That got me intrigued and I decided to take that first step of faith and see where this module would bring me.
Prof said it’s easy to start a business, but takes a hell load of effort to sustain it. And this module allowed me to experience the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Compared to other teams in the class, I have to admit Pop Art Inc. had it easy. We didn’t have much technological stuff to work on, except the website. We didn’t have to come up with a software for our product. Having said that, Pop Art Inc. also had a roller-coaster start. Why so? That’s because, unlike other groups, our business model is highly reliant on our suppliers. And to make the matter worse, our suppliers are located overseas. We initially didn’t think much of this project, as we thought it was just a module. But, as time passed, we realized that this whole Pop Art business could be the next big thing! Hence, instead of just wanting to get this module over and done with, my team mates and I decided to take the plunge and booked tickets to Vietnam. Is this what bootstrapping is called? I think so, cause we definitely felt the pinch! Haha.
So, the very first take-away I got from this module is that in business, you need to find like-minded friends to do business with. I feel that it is very important for business partners to be on the same page, particularly so if you see your business to be a long-term investment. And, instead of sweeping things under the carpet, it’d be healthy if there’s open communication. That said, I am glad that the founders of Pop Art Inc. are a bunch of crazy people who work hard and play hard together at the same time.
The Vietnam trip was indeed the trigger for Pop Art Inc. It has really been an eye-opener. We survived 4 days without killing each other. I must say this is one of the most interesting group mates I’ve got in my entire SMU life. Through this trip, we found out more about each other’s working styles and came to better appreciate each other’s forte. Although the Vietnam trip didn’t turned out the way we expect it to be, we all took away some valuable lessons nonetheless.
1. In business, one should always take chances! Just like what Mr. Wong Toon King said, “Seize the moment!”.
2. Always have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. It’s good to have a best case scenario and worst case scenario when doing your business, not just the financials.
3. Hiccups are aplenty, but an entrepreneur should never lose hope.
And my personal favorite:
4. When life throws you lemons, make lemonade!
Instead of wallowing in self-pity when something didn’t go your way (when things didn’t work out between us and the suppliers), think of other options, think out of the box! Or, just simply make the best out of your situation.
So, the module’s almost over. And I can’t believe we’ve accomplished this much as a team. Thinking back, the lessons in class by Prof Pam, the many pitchings by different groups, the numerous feedback from the ever so helpful classmates, the learning of how to do a business plan, the application of using social media to better market to our customers, the birth of our website etc… Each and every single thing matters and counts towards being a better entrepreneur. And, I’m so glad I decided to give this module a try. Even though we did not manage to sell any art pieces (and recoup our losses) or get our business started, I believe with all my heart that we are successful in other different ways. At least now when friends see Pop Art, they will think of Pop Art Inc. instead of Andy Warhol. Hahaha.
So, A BIG THANK YOU to Prof for your rich store of anecdotes about entrepreneurship. I daresay that it’s been one of the most useful and hands-on module I’ve ever encountered in SMU. And, kudos to the helpful classmates who also have their valuable experiences to share with the class!