Entrepreneurial thinking is increasingly important in Singapore today. Learn from the experiences of three budding entrepreneurs as they share their passions and visions for youth leadership
Daniel Goh from Young Upstarts and The Good Beer Company:
Do Thorough Research and Work Your Way Up
How do youths view entrepreneurship today? What first steps can we encourage them to take in pursuing their dreams of starting a business? Hear from Daniel Goh, founder and director of The Good Beer Company, and chief editor of YoungUpstarts.com, a Singapore-based website covering stories such as small businesses and entrepreneurship. Whether in a small or big way, these are things that are changing the world.
Halogen360 (H360): What have you observed about the youths in Singapore today?
Daniel Goh (DG): As an entrepreneur as well as someone who provides an online resource for business owners, I am often approached for advice by many young people eager to start out on their own. My general observation is that there is no lack of youths in Singapore who hanker to take on the entrepreneurship mantle. After speaking with many of them, a second observation is that most young Singaporeans aren’t lacking good ideas either.
As a matter of fact, the youths in our nation can be very passionate in what they believe in. The problem lies neither in their lack of desire nor the lack of resources. There are plenty of avenues for fundraising and business advice if one knows where to look. More often than not, I find that the new generation – one that is accustomed to instant gratification – is singularly unfamiliar with the concepts of “learning the ropes”, or “working one’s way up”.
Here’s an example. I have lost count of the number of young people who have asked me for advice on starting a cafe, because they love coffee and the culture that surrounds it. But when I ask them about their knowledge of coffee – the differences in single origin beans, roasting techniques or types of coffee machines – I usually get a blank look. Have you visited coffee plantations or spoken to the people who deal with coffee? Have you worked, even part-time, as a coffee barista? If your answers are “no” to all the above, you can certainly still start a café, but your success may be limited. Just to give you an idea – I visited over 10 breweries and spoke to many brewers before I started selling beers from a hawker stall two years ago.
H360: How does Young Upstarts promote entrepreneurship among youth?
DG: Young Upstarts exists to provide content that help young entrepreneurs become better business people. We harness sage advice of thought leaders in their fields so young entrepreneurs can learn from past experiences and avoid potential pitfalls.
H360: What is your hope for the youth in Singapore?
DG: My hope is that in 2014, young aspiring entrepreneurs put their words and desires into action, and channel all that enthusiasm, intelligence and creativity to picking up the right skill sets that will ultimately help make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. You can’t simply wing your way in business. There’s no shortcut. Learn what you can, and then go forth and change the world.
“You can’t simply wing your way in business. There’s no shortcut. Learn what you can, then go forth and change the world.” – Daniel Goh, Chief Editor of YoungUpstarts.com
Lee Min Xuan from PlayMoolah:
Think Like An Entrepreneur and Create Impact on What Is Truly Important
After hearing tips from an entrepreneurship veteran, let’s learn from the example of local startup, PlayMoolah. This company designs fun digital tools based on behavioural research combined with the power of play. Let’s hear from Co-founder and Princess of Possibility Lee Min Xuan as she shares the story and values of how they are dedicated to empowering youths to realise that money can help achieve personal goals and create value in the world too. As youths dream up business plans, we can encourage them to think about what really matters.
H360: How has the support for young social entrepreneurs changed over the years?
Lee Min Xuan (MX): It has become much friendlier, with the new grants from National Youth Council (NYC) and awesome co-working spaces like The Hub. But nothing beats having a vibrant community! Culturally, I think we’ve moved away from a point of resignation (what can I do when I’m only one person?) to a point of understanding that complex problems can be dealt with using optimism and collective wisdom. Each of us can contribute to building a better world. I am very encouraged to see so many young people engaged in solving social problems with all the talents they have.
H360: By teaching youths the value of money, how does PlayMoolah encourage entrepreneurial thinking and traits like innovation and resilience?
MX: At PlayMoolah, we enable smart money decision-making by making it simple to understand. In fact, just by understanding what money actually is – that it is worthless on its own – you realise it merely is a tool to exchange for what is of real value. You start realising that many things you want to do “when you have a million dollars” can actually be done today as most people have an innate desire to give and help others! Money then does not become an excuse but an enabler.
You feel truly empowered when you start seeing yourself as a steward of money. We believe that everybody has the capacity to be creative and think like an entrepreneur; you really don’t have to start a business to think like one. We serve to honour this pioneering, innovative spirit. Using money as a metaphor, we show what is truly important in life.
H360: What is your hope for social entrepreneurs in Singapore this 2014?
MX: Time is actually scarcer than money. I wish for all social entrepreneurs to leverage it well and spend their time on what gives the most impact and benefit for all.
“Everybody has the capacity to be create and think like an entrepreneur, you really don’t have to start a business to think like one.” – Lee Min Xuan, Co-Founder of PlayMoolah
Ng Aik Yang from Creasionaid:
Be Empowered and Find Your Element
How can young people practise entrepreneurship and take the bold initiative to put their ideas into action? We speak to Ng Aik Yang, a youth who started Creasionaid when he was just 15 years old, to inspire and move a generation of youth to explore their areas of passion. Currently run by a team of dedicated and passionate 17-year-olds including Aik Yang himself, Creasionaid hopes that this will, in turn, create a more vibrant society where youths actively contribute to living and achieving their dreams.
H360: What inspired you to set up Creasionaid to boost creativity in schools?
Ng Aik Yang (AY): I would say the trigger point for us to set up Creasionaid was our exposure to more elements outside school. From our personal exposure to the active community beyond school, we came to realise that creativity is not extrinsic. It is not a skill to be adapted. Rather, it is “nature”. It is something within each and every individual that comes to life under the right conditions. The right condition we are referring to is empowerment. When empowered, people can be creative in their own ways. This is what we hope to do for the community.
H360: How can Creasionaid boost entrepreneurial thinking skills and traits like innovation and resilience?
AY: Creasionaid wholeheartedly believes that entrepreneurial thinking begins with empowerment and finding one’s “element” – what we feel adept and comfortable with. Empowerment comes through exposure that builds character and specific thinking skills. Finding one’s “element” is about pushing them to discover a cause they are passionate about, and to take action. Having both of these give a person a sense of identity as they can be creative and act on what they truly care about.
Instead of using usual curriculum, Creasionaid believes in providing narratives rather than 5-step models. To do this, we bring in people who share stories about their current field of study or initiative, which inspire youths. Through providing a platform to share such narratives, we hope to empower the entrepreneurial heart and foster the entrepreneurial mind.
H360: What is your vision for the youths of Singapore?
AY: “Viva la dream”, or “Live the dream” is our theme for the year. Our vision for the youths of Singapore is for them to love and to dream, to break out of their comfort zones and social moulds, to be full of zest and dare to chase their dreams. We hope for them to reach their full potential and be extraordinary, to go beyond shyness to display their personalities and amazing traits. It’s an amazing world out there and we hope for everyone to connect and be part of this world. Our challenge for them is to push themselves one step further and explore their passions. By doing so, youths will make a positive impact in their communities and also the world at large.
“To love and to dare to dream.” – Ng Aik Yang, Founder of Creasionaid—
Article by Shirleen Shiao