by Justin Choo (Singapore)
It was a matter of feeling both thrilled and skeptical when I stumbled upon a course entitled Technological Entrepreneurship during the course bidding period at SMU. I was excited as it meant an opportunity to tap on the knowledge of an experienced instructor, which would allow me to implement new ideas into the two little businesses (a home-based tuition center and an online sales site which sold self-help e-books) which I was running. While the course requirement promised a hands-on approach towards the business creation process, seniors had warned me before that entrepreneurship courses are often little more than creating businesses on paper and fluff fests with little practical value.
Looking back 13 weeks later, I am glad I made the right choice and made my bid for this course after all. The learning experience throughout this period was indeed the most satisfying amongst all the courses which I had taken throughout my years at SMU. This was a result of the hands-on and guiding approach to entrepreneurship which was adopted by Prof. Pamela Lim in her conduct of this course.
One of the prominent takeaway points for me would be the importance of partners and teamwork in creating an effective business. Taking on the role of finance and marketing director for my team’s business, The6thAvenue.com, I was able to have a clear focus on the tasks which were required of me, while my team mates took care of other essential features of the business. Working with partners on a business also meant that problems could be discussed, a larger pool of ideas, as well as a wider network of contacts. This was a contrast to my prior entrepreneurial ventures which were simply one-man-operation businesses, which resulted in me having to run around like a headless chicken to tend to all functions of the business and feeling lost in times of challenges. I came to realize the limitations of being a soloist when running a business and would definitely source for like-minded individuals as partners in my future business ventures.
Through this course, I was also able to learn of the numerous funding initiatives set up by the government to assist entrepreneurs in starting and expanding their business. Prior to this course, my take on the various government funding schemes such as those offered by Spring Singapore and the EDB was that these were only available to high technology start up businesses. For a long period of time, I thought that bootstrapping was the only funding available for a stuffy little tuition center and an online e-book sales site. Yet, this course has proven to me otherwise, that you do not need to invent a spacecraft or a cure for cancer in order to qualify for such funding. What is needed is simply a solid business idea that is feasible in order for funding to come your way. This revelation came about as a result of this course through Prof. Pamela and Mr. Inderjit Singh, who was one of the guest speakers invited to share with the class about his experience as an entrepreneur. Learning from seasoned entrepreneurs is simply one of the best experience as you would be able to learn how not to commit certain mistakes when running a business.
More than just soft skills and hard facts, the technological entrepreneurship experience has allowed me to come into contact with like-minded individuals who are passionate in starting and maintaining a business. It is indeed heartwarming to have your peers throw up many different viewpoints and solutions that address common problems in a business such as keeping the cost of overheads low and cash flow issues. I certainly did not know that so many business-minded individuals existed in SMU until this course. Of course, Prof. Pamela was always there to share her experience and provide us with practical advice with regards to these issues. Her hand-holding approach to entrepreneurship certainly makes this course stand out above all entrepreneurship courses and certainly made me learn more about business creation.
Above all, this course has inspired me to dare to dream and be different. All along, I have considered myself to be an extremely risk averse person who often hesitates taking on the unconventional path in life. Yet, this course as well as the sharing session by other seasoned entrepreneurs have convinced me that stepping out of one’s comfort zone and doing something that you truly have passion for as a living, would result in a greater payoff and sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. Pursuing one’s dreams seems to be the only way where one would be able to look back at one’s life in the future and have no regrets. As youths, time is certainly on our side especially where trial and error in setting up a business is concerned.
Rounding off my take for this course, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team, The6thAvenue.com for the wonderful learning experience which I had enjoyed for the past 13 weeks. Nothing would have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the team. I have certainly learnt a lot from you guys and have had a really enjoyable time working together. To all aspiring entrepreneurs out there, take the plunge! Try this course! You would certainly enjoy a tremendous amount of returns for your time, effort and e-dollars!
Submitted By: Choo Wee Lim Justin