Entrepreneurship Cannot Be Taught- You've Got To Get Your Hands Dirty

by Ili Liyana

Truth be told, I decided to take this course as I have yet to fulfill my technology & entrepreneurship requirement, and was happy to do it together with my close friends who said this module is going to be a breeze. I attended the first class and was really impressed by Prof Pamela Lim and felt that I should take this up as it seems that this course has a lot to offer in an area which I practically know nothing of. However, it definitely was anything but a breeze! More like a typhoon especially when deadlines for the business presentation and website were drawing near. It turned out to be one of the most challenging modules I have undertaken in SMU and also one from which I have gained the most from.

What was so great about this course was that Prof Pamela Lim structured it in such a way that it forces you to be very hands on and practical. I was thrown out of my comfort zone, as I was expecting it to be a theory-based course on entrepreneurship which we could simply listen to and study for.

As Prof Pamela always says, entrepreneurship cannot be taught. One will only truly learn through experience. She guided us along as we took our baby steps in starting our business and was always there to give us feedback and advice on how to improve on it and move forward from where we were. Being a very successful entrepreneur herself, she gave us very realistic and relevant insights and tips that no one else would be willing to tell you. Also, I was really glad Prof Pamela organized the entrepreneur talk for us, the three speakers were really inspiring, especially T.K Wong!

At the start, I was really shocked when we had to actually start our business as I thought the business was to be finalized simply on pen and paper and that she would be going through a lot of theory on entrepreneurship. Also, I really thought she was joking when she told PopArt to get the next flight to Vietnam to source for suppliers. I was even more shocked when I found out the whole team came back with art pieces from Vietnam! Kudos to PopArt! Just like what T.K Wong tells us, business ideas are cheap.  What matters is if you can execute it and have the integrity to see it through.

And execute it we did! Although most of our business would not really be considered a success, it is after all our first attempt and there were many valuable lessons to be learnt from all the groups. What matters was that we did try, and it was wonderful to have a really supportive group of people in class who were willing to share their ideas and thoughts on how to make each group?s business better.

Since the business we set up was primarily for a school module, I did feel slightly half-hearted at times in carrying out the business.  I tend to get discouraged as well as I felt that this business should probably only last as long as the school term.I think the main reason that attributes to being half-hearted was the fact that I probably was not passionate about my group?s business idea, though it is a sound idea and very practical and viable. Passion is one of the key ingredients to success, without it you lose your business? soul.  Once you start doubting your business, just like how I did many times during the thirteen weeks, you will feel very demoralized and every single task becomes an uphill chore. Being demoralized affects the whole team as well because you tend to pass on the negative energy.

However we never gave up and stuck to the plan closely and tried really hard to make it work. I gained the most valuable lessons from setting up Shopaholic Remedy which will greatly help me in the future should I decide to take that leap of faith to be an entrepreneur.  

I would highly recommend this course to all SMU students, and wished that there could have been more courses like this which lets you experience learning hands-on and leaves a lasting impression.

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TE-2010-S2: FiNK it!

by Riccardo Delle Vedove


I first heard about this course because my flat mates, Italian guys on exchange who took Technological Entrepreneurship last semester, were really excited about their project. They used to talk about their business idea while having dinner, watching TV, in every moment of the day. I started being interested in the course and the business itself. I went to some of their meetings and I remember that my girlfriend and I even appeared in their learning journey video.

I decided then that I would take this course in the following semester.

And here we are. After thirteen weeks of one of the best courses I have ever taken. An incredible experience that helped me

1)being more risk taker: It is easy when you sit in a “normal” class and work on prepared case-studies. The professor knows the result and you don not strive as you would if you are doing something for your business because you feel that the problem is external, you are not in that situation and even if the case study describes feelings and uncertainties of the subjects involved, I always feel that I should be more directly involved in order to make a wiser decision.

2)finding new friends and entrepreneurial minded people

3)setting myself a new exciting challenge: I am so excited to tell everyone what I did in this course and what FiNK is about. My group mates and I have seen the business growing up from a baby into what it is now.

4)learning how to cover your entrepreneurial ass when you are running a business or planning to launch it in a short period.

I was reading an article from The Sunday Times some days ago: “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”. The article presented the thoughts of a psychologist and CEO of a consultancy firm who is convinced that “entrepreneurs are born and not made”. He thinks that “this theory that anyone can become an entrepreneur is absolute nonsense. And what is terrible about that message is that it is making people risk their money and is therefore creating larger debts. It is just awful. I often have people saying they are going to sell everything and become an entrepreneur, and I say for goodness sake don’t do it. Very few people are wealth creators and it is really important that people realise where their strength lie.”

Well, every student who took Technological Entrepreneurship will laugh at this point. Most of us did not have the knowledge about how to set-up a business, three out of the four group mates in my team, Fink, come from a social sciences degree and have little business background. This does not mean that we cannot succeed in the entrepreneurial word. Everyone has made mistakes during these thirteen weeks, sometimes stupid, sometimes due to lack of experience, sometimes you thought that you were doing the right thing and then realised it was not right. But the learning point is … everyone can make it. If you really want it, all you have to do is fight for it.

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A Course That Leaves Its Marks

by Florian David Rucker
(Singapore)

Being an exchange student, this course was something completely new to me. To understand this, it may be interesting to understand my background: I come from a liberal arts college that prides itself to be highly academic. What that means is that not only are the courses kept intentionally abstract and theoretical, but also is practical knowledge actively rejected. I personally have lobbied the Dean of our university to take an entrepreneurship-course into the curriculum and it was rejected on the grounds of not being sufficiently academic.

So when I got the chance to get off my high academic horse that is my university for one semester, I knew I wanted to grasp the chance to finally take a course in entrepreneurship. For the first time of my undergraduate studies, I attended a course in university that gave me knowledge that was aimed at helping me succeed as an entrepreneur in real-life. I felt like Pamela Lim is thinking of knowledge as a tool, and she was giving away tools for us to work with on our projects. What this course did not teach me, is abstract frameworks, complex theories or mathematical models – because none of those things can serve as real-life tools in what is the entrepreneur’s toolbox. Rather, Pamela took the concepts that other professors may explain in terms of an abstract framework, and then taught the concept in a way that we can apply it in real life. In a way that helps us understand the dynamics within a company – be it start-up or MNC. Some students mentioned that they had whole courses to explain to them certain financial or legal models, whose practical application they never understood before taking this course. Since I don’t have a business background, I have never learned about most of these things in anyway, and I still feel like I now understand their practical application. That amazes me.

I immensely enjoyed the above described, practical approach. What I further liked was the teaching style: again something I have not experienced yet, is a professor that teaches with wit, personal insight and wisdom. This is something that Pamela managed to combine into insightful and at times inspiring lectures. An interesting fact: Two times I have convinced friends of mine to come into the course with me at 8:30 in the morning, to witness her lectures. This is something I have never done before, as I know that my friends’ time is valuable, and I do not want to waste it – but that was not something I had to be worried about in this case.

Before taking this course I have been working on a project or two, but never have I come to a stage as far as this. It was my objective to develop myself as an individual and as an entrepreneur and this course helped me with both. Our project, LapLock, has been pushed further than any idea I have been considering before. I am still meeting with my old team, both to have fun and to discuss our project. And this brings me to my personal takeaway: The team is everything. A brilliant idea with a mediocre team will not succeed. A mediocre idea with a great team, as is probably the case for LapLock has a much better chance to becoming a successful business. There is a reason that my past projects have not flourished and now I know why: I have always tried to do them by myself.

A final note: This course has also taught me so much about the entrepreneurship-friendly environment of Singapore, that am considering to come back here at the end of my study next summer. I will also spend all four months of my summer vacation here to work on LapLock. Rarely has a university course impacted personal life decisions in such a way.

Thank you Pamela.

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TE-2010-S2: Chen Zhihao ? An Unforgettable Entrepreneurship Journey

by Chen Zhihao
(Singapore)

This is one of the most beautiful gifts i ever received.

This is one of the most beautiful gifts i ever received.

I was certain that I wanted this course to be my last in SMU. So that if everything works out well, I will be graduating SMU with a business to put my heart and soul in. And more importantly, I will be meeting awesome people, people who are not going to try and kill you (like what some classes have shown) but a class that would support and give constructive feedbacks, helping your business to go from Ok to Good :)


Prof Pam personal touch and facilitating skills, coupled with Andy's patient guidance - works magic. They have nurtured this class into a very supportive and serious environment. Rather than just business plans and business presentations, Prof Pam is serious that we create a real business. She believes that the lines between work and play are blurred, so she encourages us to do what we like. And she pushes us to go out of our comfort zones by telling us, 'buy a ticket to go Vietnam on week 8' or 'I have just emailed my friend who has extensive contacts in China.'

The result? All teams have solid products to show on week 13. And in the process, I do respect 2 teams, Eric and Pop Art Inc. Eric, aka Lady Gaga, for his determination to do what he is interested in and Pop Art Inc. for taking the leap of faith to Vietnam and coming back with really cool products and stories that will last a lifetime ;)

When I think about these examples, it really dawn on me that the real joy of entrepreneurship is not making money (of course that is important), but the real joy is basically what Mr. Woon Toon King said, "if you can do what you love and combine that with your strengths, you are already successful."

Lastly, I want to thank my team, cos at the end, it's really the people you work with that truly matters. To my team, it's a wonder how we get to brainstorm so many different ideas and ended up with HeyChinaTV in the end! And thanks for 'recruiting' me when I was overseas ;) Thanks Marilyn for coordinating everything and like a caring CEO, making sure we are happy throughout the making of HeyChinaTV! Thanks Mingjie for spreading your infectious laughter to everyone and always being an optimist! Thanks Jolene for adding that 'serious look' to the team, and sharing with us different kinds of stories! And thanks Steve for the nice design and making sure HeyChinaTV! goes live on the internet! With a myriad of skills set, personalities and funniness, being part of this team is really a blessing!


PS: Prof Pam, please teach other entrepreneurship Prof the TRUE meaning of an entrepreneurship course ;)

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