TE-2011/12Term2-Martin Pauly

Initially I chose the technological entrepreneurship class because I felt the best way to learn about doing business in Singapore was to start one. I have been involved in different businesses and social businesses before and was excited about visiting Singapore, a place which is known to be one of the best in world to start a business at. I also felt it would be an interesting challenge to set up a business in such a short time without even having a team.
These considerations actually turned out to be the most interesting challenges on our entrepreneurial journey with go-recipes. Right now I feel we have a good business plan and all agree how we want our business to be. But it was a long way to get there.
go-recipes was go-ceries at the beginning. Everything started with the idea to shop for groceries using a QR code on the MRT. While this idea was very fancy we soon all agreed that it could only be a later stage of our business, as on one hand QR codes are not yet common enough and on the other hand advertisement space is way to expensive for a small start-up like us (although paypal's current campaign on the Singapore MRT prooves that we pointed in the right direction). So back then it was an online groceries shopping solution, most likely mobile. We had two programmers on board so this part of the business should not be a severe problem. But what to happen after a order? That is where the problem started. From the beginning on we realized that both; keeping our own inventory and cooperating with big supermarket chains would be a very difficult task. We tried to find a way arround it while preserving our initial concept during an uncountable number of brain-stormings and meetings. But in the end we realized that we had to tune our business idea.
That was the moment when go-recipes appeared on the screen. We could not stock a big number of ingredients, so why not just simply reduce it to a small set which is tailored to what we actually want to provide: good and fresh food conveniently at your home. So we decided to deliver bundles which enable you to cook a meal. We provide the recipe as well as the right amount of ingredients and thus provide our customer with a convenient way to cook a fresh meal. When we came up with this concept at least I for the first time had the feeling that this was something doable and I believe that all my groupmates shared that feeling. The scope was managable and the financials also looked solid.
So that moment we really started to put the cornerstones of the business together, we set up the webpage in a very short time due to very efficient teamwork (one comment on facebook and 30 minutes later I had the graphics I needed, and even when going traveling for one weekend my groupmates compensated my absence easily).
That was the second part which was interesting about that entrepreneurial journey: the development of our team. While being a rather uneffective bunch of people thinking in different directions at the beginning, we got a very good team during the semester, and actually right now I would say that we really know how to work efficently and actually I am looking forward to our next group-meeting later this afternoon. I also found the different views contributed by persons from different nationalities very interesting and enriching which showed me once again that one of the most important things about a good team is diversity.
Finally I learned a lot about setting up a business in Singapore. What I learned confirmed my impression, that Singapore is one of the best countries to start a business in. The rich landscape of support and funding makes it really easy to get your business running and the large and and concentrated group of comparably wealthy inhabitans constitutes an attractive pool of potential customers.
So overall I met my objective of learning how doing business in Singapore is working, I am satisfied with the insights I made during the course and with the result of our team's work.

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TE - 2011/12 Term 2 - Kim Staahl

by Kim Staahl

Since I've already had started one business about 9 months before the course started I had already began my journey as an entrepreneur. I attended the course because I wanted to know more in detail how to built a business, run it and all the other parts involved in having or starting a business. When I started my business I did it more or less because I wanted some real life experience of what I was learning in school I wanted to try out accounting and marketing and all the other subject in real life and I also wanted to give myself the ability to earn money during my stay in Singapore since I wasn't able to work during my exchange.
As I've realized during the course it takes so much more to start a business for "real" than doing it the way I did it. I just started out and waited to see what happened. No planing, no distinct goals and no budgets. Just go with it and adjust along the road. Now I've comes to the sense that in order to make a business big I need to do it more according to the "school book". it takes planing, calculations and projections to better point to the strategy for the business in order to success. Its been inspiring to listen to all the stories about success and failure experienced by Pamela Lim and from those I have learned that it could be a good thing to run your business in a more planed way. Although I believe that in order to succeed you need a huge pice of risk taking and flexibility, you can't start a business and fallow all your projections and plans. Sometimes the sudden decision or the un expected road can be the road to success. In the future I will start businesses on a more stable ground but still just "go with it" along the way.
Furthermore I think I have become more of an true entrepreneur during the course. Before I had one or a few ideas that I though could turn in to great businesses but now I have several ideas and I no longer see as many obstacles as before. This course and the inspiring stories and people involved in it have turned me in to a more optimistic and positive entrepreneur more willing and ready to take on the big challenges in life. I'm now more ready to start another business or to develop and grow my existing one, whichever I choose I believe that I will now do a better job than before and I have absolutely increased my change of succeeding as an entrepreneur.

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TE-2011/12 Term 2-Jerome Ng

by Ng Shengwen Jerome

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Keep Exploring. Keep Trying.

Turning back, it’s really a leap of faith.

Let’s be frank here. The TE mod is one of the most challenging mod I have taken in SMU. It’s not for the faint hearted. Yet looking back, it’s one of the most amazing courses that I have amazing takeaway. Our entrepreneurial journey has been remarkable. It is nothing short of being the real out of class experience. My group, after facing through severe barriers and even a late change in business idea, we had managed to achieve beyond what we could imagine. We are glad that our efforts paid off in the end and intend to take on this business in the upcoming summer to come. Entrepreneurship is all about that resilience; a lesson that was subtly instilled in our course.

-Our Journey-
Turning back, the journey has been nothing short of being spectacular. We have started off with idea generation from our pre-assigned group and landed eventually on SuperButler, an concierge service that help your schedule chores with a prefixed schedule. We have anticipated that we would be able to capitalize on the growing PMET market with a rising need for domestic helpers. Marketing and Strategy wise, we would be able to grow, in theory. We have also engaged on Mrs. Sparkle Pte. Ltd, a household cleaning company who we have contacted to learn more about the following industry. Within the past 7 weeks, our team has worked feverously on refining our business plan, pricing, market segment and finally gearing towards our operation plan.

-The Execution Woes-
Yet the main issue comes into picture. We realize that in order for our business to work, it would mean that our founding members might be required for day to day coordination, at least for a start. Founders who are currently studying might not be able to full commit to the following execution. This would mean that our operation would be extremely daunting to execute. To further proof this, we have visited Mrs. Sparkle and interned ourselves for a day to trial and test the daily operation. We realized the tremendous difficulties in the following. Being the CEO, I needed to make a choice.

-The Leap of Faith-
With only 2 weeks to financials submission and 3 weeks to presentation, we are faced with a huge challenge. Superbutler was theoretically possible but practicability wise, daunting. We decided that we needed a change if we want to take on something that meaningful after class. The idea of not so conceivable operation would means this business idea would be hard to take on. So we needed to make a change. Even by tweaking some operation concept, we struggled without knowing what we could really do at the end of the day. We needed a change. A leap of courage from where we are to restart our 7 weeks process.

-A Real Connected World-
While coming to school on our important meeting, Marcus realized that people are often disconnected in our society – i.e. people are looking more into screen than actually meeting up. He suggested that we can create an app/platform for people to reach out each other during the train trip. After sharing this idea and a couple of resistance, shaping, tweaking, we decided we could address the “disconnect issue” and over a common touch point with most Singaporeans – food. The idea of Makanbuddy was born.

-The Food Concept-
We acted quickly on the idea development since we are already familiar with the following process. We identified our segment, marketing strategy and work really hard on the operation. Doing up the user interface (UI) took us long as we wanted an amazing experience for us to start connecting. We studied our competitors to help us do our strength even better. Throughout those nights that we stayed over in school, we are glad that it finally paid off. It was a challenge that we accepted when we agreed to our late change of business plan. Makanbuddy was born out of sheer hardwork and toil of late night.

-A Summary of Learning Points-
• I learn that starting a company isn’t as glamorous or exciting as a movie set up. It’s involving a tremendous amount of work, nights, and effort.
• Most importantly, it’s a great team that matter you. An amazing team who you can trust to work the idea out together will keep motivated even in time of adversity
• Don’t be afraid to take on a change even if it is in the later stage, so as long as you can finish the work within the stipulated time.
• Operation feasibility is crucial if you want a business to be successful. Be realistic.
• A business can be successful only if it addresses a need. Constantly check if it deviates from your original goals.

-Final Notes-
Prof Lim TE module from the course has come a long way from the standard SMU lesson. Entrepreneurship is something that cannot be taught but to be instilled over the course of 14 weeks. By allowing us to immerse ourselves in the work, get our hands dirty, all these takeway were possible. Thanks Prof for the enlightening journey. :D

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TE-2011/12Term2-Marcus Wong

It seemed just like yesterday that I enrolled in this course. I came to this course, expecting to learn entrepreneurship. I have heard much about Prof Pamela and it was an exciting moment when I first came to class.

I remembered that the first thing we had to do was to pitch our ideas to the class and gather partners or people who were keen on working together to bring this idea to higher ground. I heard many different ideas and finally decided to join SuperButler. Over time, our group formed and we had six members, comprising of Jerome, Shawn, Jia Wei, Amanda, Leonard and myself.

We worked on SuperButler all along, right up to two weeks before the Guest Lecture. Suddenly, we had a new concept, a new idea, and a new direction. We decided to take on and work on MakanBuddy, which is a social dining platform. We worked against time and managed to achieve what we did in 8 weeks in just two weeks.

This taught me the lesson on flexibility and the need for entrepreneurs to react to situations in a quick and efficient manner.

Of course, there were many lessons that I picked up during lessons or during the course of the project, but the most valuable lesson that I took away was not the theories of starting or running a business, but simply the relationships and friendships that were forged during this course. I'm glad to have a group who was able to work together, chipping in their part during the whole course of this project. The network that I found was more valuable than any other lessons I could learn in the course.

I'm glad to have Jerome as the leader of the group, guiding us through the whole process. To see the creative man, Shawn, in action was definitely an eye-opening experience for a dull man like me. Watching Jia Wei, who is meticulous in his work and details was a joy. Amanda was hardworking in putting the finances together. Leonard, being an exchange student, allowed me to interact with someone from a different nationality and enjoy the contributions that he put into this venture.

It is the people in this course that made this course valuable to me and I do hope to continue working on future collaborations with them.

Much thanks has to be given to Prof Pamela for her dedication in putting this course together, else I wouldn't have the opportunity to work alongside such a great team.

In conclusion, I may have forgotten the lessons and theories, or even the business plan, but the relationships forged would not be forgotten.

Thank you all once again for this amazing journey!

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TE-2011/12 Spring-Jonathan Murat Guenak

by Jonathan Guenak

Team Youstamp

Team Youstamp

In today’s global education systems “mainstream academics”, it seems, have evolved as a new trend to faster, better, and more efficiently educate successive generations. Worldwide, youngsters, therefore, face more pressure and global challenges asking much of them, and consequently, putting apprentices without a voice, on the fast track of institutional education. However, these systems designed by architects such as governments, potential employers, parents, friends and relatives - overall, the society – seem to rather be a fallacy than a solution to global challenges at fast pace.
Students from all over the world are more connected than ever before, there opportunities in career development have increased dramatically due to globalization and the overall wealth of western civilization. At the same time, students face more top down education than ever before. Bachelor degrees consist of progressively exorbitant syllabuses, expectations of society for students are exploding, conformity among the “top” of the new elite is inevitable... But what does this trend imply and is it a doubtful development? Such movements bear the treat of incrementally excluding our current and successive generation from self-fulfillment, passion, visionary thinking, pursues of personal dreams, self-employment and autonomy, and even fundamental personality development. Such trends jeopardize any future, and intentionally balanced society. Thus, courses teaching reality and not just theory, such as Prof Pamela Lim’s course at SMU “Technological Entrepreneurship” are an undeniable necessity and essential competency of any institution that prides itself of shaping future society and responsibly educating human resources.
In my notion lays a simple and crucial dogma I want to share after having attended Prof. Lim’s course: Entrepreneurship is about value creation to the world, society, to oneself - not about value “reproduction” or degradation of humans to cogwheels that need only function in a predetermined ways. It is about self-fulfillment, about getting the most out of one’s personality and individuality. That is something people easily forget during their journey of education.
Therefore, in this journal, I do not want to point out key elements of Prof’s class or details about the development of our Startup “Youstamp”; rather I want to emphasize my deep gratefulness about two facts: Firstly, Prof, thank you for taking your valuable and scarce time to come to SMU and share your experiences, views, and thoughts! Secondly, thank you SMU for realizing the immanent value of such shaping class that has lasting influence on most of us participants, at least to my very conviction.
More importantly, such courses must not only be electives, but mandatory core competencies of any institutional education in the future, in order to revitalize indispensable creative thinking, the inevitable will to “fail”, and visionaries - people that want to change the world.
Thank you Prof for having shared your experiences, advices, and time. Your contribution has lasting impact.

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TE-2011/12Term2 - Chua Jia Liang

by Chua Jia Liang

GoRecipes team in Guest Seminar!

GoRecipes team in Guest Seminar!

Having taken one of Prof Pamela Lim's classes (TWC) before, I thought I had an idea of what TE will be like and that it would somewhat be manageable. However, these 13 weeks of TE has really been unexpected and I really am surprised and in awe of what has transpired during these weeks. I still remember that during the first lesson, the Prof exclaimed to the class that this was an advanced class, and is for students in their final year with some experience in entrepreneurship and seeking to learn more about the advanced stuff like IPO and M&A. At that time, I was just a second year student with no experience in setting up businesses, writing business plans and anything of that sort. I was also apprehensive about entrepreneurship, as all my life, I have never considered becoming an entrepreneur and I’ve always assumed my career choice to be a 9-5 job that I would hopefully enjoy. Throughout this course, not only have I changed my mind about a career choice as an entrepreneur, I have learnt more about entrepreneurship than any other books or websites can offer. You know what most people always say, that experience is always the best learning tool one can have. This is undoubtedly true in the case of this course. Building a business from scratch in 13 weeks allowed me to learn about the crafts of entrepreneurship more than any other material could.

My project in this module was based on a recipes/ good bundle delivery business, called GoRecipes. I was the chief operating officer, assisting my personal friend, Patrick the CEO. Patrick and I, being second year students, really I think had to dig deep to ensure our business was viable and competent. The amount of frustration and the countless meetings we have to endure to present a good business idea that we can be proud of and be passionate about is difficult. We held many ‘mega-meetings’, a term we coined to describe the intensity and the importance of a meeting, where we tried to focus our business idea and really develop a good concept and niche area we can be successful at. At the end of the day, I can say we really pull through and I am immensely proud of what my group and myself managed to do in 13 weeks. In this journal, I will expand on one key area I feel that this module has taught me, and one benefit I enjoyed about this module.

I feel that there is this adage that Professor Pam Lim lives by, as she mentions this phrase very often. Prof Pamela Lim always says to the class that ideas are cheap; it is the execution and the passion that matters. Good execution and passion can turn any bad idea into a successful one. I think this is really the key takeaway I have from this course. Everybody can have a good, solid idea, but what really separates ideas from success is how badly you want it to be successful and how good you are at executing your idea. There is no point in just talking about how good your idea is, and how revolutionary it can be. We should put these ideas to actions. Less talk, and more action as I would say. This is also reflected in Mr. Vincent’s speech during the symposium. He showed a video that mentioned that the good idea you had would be somebody’s successful idea if you fail to take any action. He warns us not to have that regret, and always pursue whatever passion you have. I used to procrastinate a lot and always lacked confidence in initiating new ideas, even ones that I was hugely passionate about. But, I’ve always lacked the final push to do the things I really wanted to do. This module, more than anything, has taught me to just do it. And if I am passionate about something, I will do it well, do my due diligence and plan and execute well, and then everything else will fall in place.

From the many things that I’ve enjoyed about this course, the most enjoyable and beneficial I feel is the inclusion of peers and classmates in our learning journey. Learning in this class is as much learning from each other as learning from Prof. From our Facebook group, to our weekly class discussions, the incorporation of my classmates in this learning experience has been greatly beneficial to myself. I’ve enjoyed the banter and debate, and the provision of different viewpoints. I think it is this multi angle discussion about current issues and the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this module so successful. Most classes in SMU are often competitive in terms of class participation, and many classmates often speak because they want to shoot down other people. I do not feel any of that in my class, I genuinely feel that every comment each student makes is constructive and really facilitates class discussion. I hope Prof Pamela Lim continues to facilitate such class discussions for future classes.

Some final words I have regarding my journey is that I think it is not really important if any of these businesses in class make it big or become successful. In fact, I treated my project as just a project and I am sure many of the other groups will do the same thing. However, this is not important, because what this module does is really inspire me and my classmates to become an entrepreneurship. There is a bigger picture behind this module than just the projects and businesses. Lastly, it really has been an excellent journey and it has alleviated all my previous fears about entrepreneurship and this module. There’s really nothing much one can ask for about a module in SMU.

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TE-2011/12Term 2-Lee Jia Wei

by Lee Jia Wei

I bided for this module because my dad and my brothers are all design and engineering trained, and as a business student without this technical foundation, I was hoping that this course could teach me to see an opportunity in technological innovation the way they see it. After all, this module is about “opportunities identification”.

From day one of this course I was thrown into a completely new environment as the ideas put forward during the brainstorming sessions were all so technology-related, something which I’m unfamiliar with given my core interest in the F&B industry. But this course made me learn. I learnt how to build a website using wordpress, and I learnt how to harness the power of social media in getting your business idea heard. Weeks after weeks of presentations also gave me the opportunity to practice and sharpen my communication skills.

One of the biggest challenges the MakanBuddy Team had to overcome was the decision to change our business idea halfway through the course. With only 2 or 3 weeks left to complete our website and prepare for the guest seminar, we decided to drop the SuperButler idea in lieu of a social dining network business which is relatively new to the local market. At that point, we were absolutely sure that the MakanBuddy concept was a more feasible idea than SuperButler. Yet speaking on hindsight, we never fully comprehended what we were about to go through in the next 4 weeks as a result of this decision. After the initial hype came the reality of having to iron out the detailed execution plan – the hours of long meetings and intense discussion into the late nights; rushing for the last buses. It may have been a tough journey, but I wouldn’t have gained so much if not for how closely this course mimics what it’s really like to start your own business outside in terms of the entire thought process in planning, and the intensity and pressure of working under very tight deadlines.

Going back to my purpose of taking this module, I believe this course has made me better at “opportunities identification”. To be more accurate, “opportunities identification” is in fact “opportunities evaluation”, because like what Prof always mentions, the key is in the execution, not how brilliant or innovative the idea is. Meaning the process of evaluating a business feasibility doesn’t just stop at market analysis and product design, but in critically analyzing every element of the business, from the financials to the operations to the marketing and strategic development plan. What better way to learn this than to actually do it for yourself?

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TE-2011/12Term2-Amanda Chua

by Amanda Chua

Wow! It’s been 13 weeks already. That was pretty fast. I mean, I came to this class in the second week of the term, saw only boys standing outside the SR and thought to myself, “Please don’t tell me I got the wrong room!” Pretty grim at 8.30am, really. I hated that feeling. That feeling of uncertainty and the possibility of having to ask someone, “Sorry, excuse me. Is this the Technological Entrepreneurship class?” Ah, LAME! But I did anyway.

Alas! It was a class full of boys and I really mean FULL. In a class of 37 people, 35 of them were boys. (The ratio subsequently fell to 2: 35. Sad? Very.)

As such, my reflections of this class and journey as an entrepreneur will be presented through the eyes of a girl (Oh yes, the undermined minority, the one with a say less than zilch. Haha ok, no I’m joking. The guys of Makan Buddy are a great bunch ;) ).

I am absolutely risk-averse. I will not invest my money in anything which does not 100% guarantee my capital back. No, I will not start a business because... just because, NO.

I was scared as soon as I was most delicately placed in my group. (Once again, I gathered ALL my courage and asked, ”Hi, I saw in your presentation that you are looking for people to join your group. Will it be possible for me to join your group?”) Doing this ‘i-am-such-a-noob’ thing twice a day was traumatising man!! But the alpha in me couldn’t give in to fear, work IS work after all. So TA-DA, meet the CFO/ CPO of Jerome (Meet-John) Corporations Superbutler (and later Makan Buddy), Amanda Chua - Me!

With my new designation, there began meeting after meeting, presentation after presentation, multiple adjustments, documents with versions 1 to infinity and well, more talking of course. We grew from “Hi!”-friends to “Hellooo!”-friends to “EY!”-buddies. It was great fun. We talked, we laughed, we teased, and of course argued (civilly of couse!). However, a dark cloud lurked above our GSR. Superbutler didn’t seem very viable in week 7. We received feedback about our pricing model, operational concerns, competition landscape and ‘Robot vs Cleaning Auntie’ were common terms heard. Our team of 6 soon reached a point where it was either abort mission or ‘aiyah let’s just finish it’.

As you all know by now, we killed Superbutler and conceived Makan Buddy (imagine dramatic music in the background and a golden aura around the Makan Buddy logo). The process of us changing our idea was very interesting. It began with Marcus in his ‘sexy’ voice telling Jia Wei, “Imagine...”. Yup, Marcus caught my attention right there and then. I was prepared to listen. Five minutes later, Jerome walks into the GSR and Marcus repeats his story for the second time. Half an hour later, even as Shawn taps into the room and says cooly (as he always does), “So...what’s the change?” Yup, Marcus tells his story one more time. We sat around, talked and researched as usual and the Shawn delivers us a break in our discussion. “How about introducing the idea of food! So like social dining and...(the rest is blah blah blah in my memory now)” And well poor Leonard after coming back from his weekend getaway (he is an exchange student okay, let the poor guy travel!), gets his head around in a flash and hopped on our bandwagon.

From that meeting on, everything was Makan Buddy this, Makan Buddy that, “YES, YES, YES, Makan Buddy will...” We were so much more excited about delivering on Makan Buddy. And I hope you liked what we presented about Makan Buddy last week! (Click ‘Like’ on our facebook page please. We’re still competing for likes with Adyourface!!! Haha again I joke. Sorry guys, it was really all just friendly banter, I hope you don’t mind me (: )

I have learnt so much from Prof Pamela Lim, from Bryan (thanks for replying all our emails, really appreciate it!), from my team mates, from my other class mates. I dare embark on Makan Buddy now. Thank you everyone for making this journey enjoyable and memorable. I guess what I learnt most was the importance of excitement, of being excited about what I am doing. There’s really no point in doing anything you dread - be it just-a-job or life-is-such. Walk on in hope peeps, find something you love and GO FOR IT!

Before I end this post, let me give you a peek into Makan Buddy.
Jerome - Mr. Meet-John/ David
Shawn - “This sentence is very loaded and grammar is tsk, must be written by Jerome!”
Jia Wei - Prime Minister of Singapore 2035
Marcus - The ‘Sexy’ (“Imagine...”) voice
Leonard - He’s French, enough said.
Amanda - One of the 2 girls left in class, need I say more?!

Alrighty, thanks for reading everyone!

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TE-2011/12Term2-Ágoston Árpád Sipos.

by Ágoston Árpád SIpos
(Budapest, HUNGARY)

When I was thinking about what was that I improved the most during the course I was quite sure it was teamwork, but then came a lot of different soft skills on my list related to working out business plan, financials or strategy. These are the skills, which are hard to define.
Within the team, we experienced all the stages of Tuckman's classic group development stages, which was hard for me at the beginning. We had some complications and confrontations at the idea generation period as we didn’t have the common understanding. This is not surprising, as we had a range of different background in terms of education, culture and even nationality. Moral was quite low at the beginning when we hadn’t seen the outcome, but as time passed and our business framework was improving the teamwork was getting more and more effective. That was at the same time when to team roles were finalized.
After all the team invented a very nice business model and all the members put their own brick into the wall. I am very satisfied with the work we have done, and happy of having the opportunity to take this course.

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TE - 2011/12Term2 - Patrick John Lim Long-Yan

by Patrick John Lim

My International Team!

My International Team!

TE has been really long but satisfying journey for me. Just that this course has had some many unexpected twists I could not possibly document it all from day 1 till now. Instead I've distilled it to the three most important things I've learnt from Prof Pamela's classes and working with my team:

1. Need a strong team, especially the core team:
Even though our business idea may not be the most innovative, the most technological or the most financially feasible, I daresay my team and I have gone the furthest among all the other T&E groups in our class.
We started the class as a motley crew, or as my teammate coined it, a bunch of misfits. And in truth, that was what we were three year 2 students in over their heads and without an inkling of entrepreneurship education, a year 4 student graduating this summer and juggling a Final Year Project, and five exchange students. It was a going to be an uphill task to pull all of us together into an efficient working unit. As the CEO, I had the unenviable task of navigating the team through it all.
I was incredibly lucky to have such a cooperative and supportive team who were dedicated to the cause. The team was receptive to changes and eager to see the project succeed. I must throw out the prejudice against exchange students not wanting to work hard. While delegating work, I tried my best to consider their travel schedules, but they never once turned down any work assigned to them and always delivered results of fair quality.
As much as I must commend our exchange friends for making this journey so much smoother than I had imagined, I must stress that this team was built on support of the core, namely Alvin, Jia Liang and I. While our exchange friends were travelling around the region, we sat down to think through and build another idea from scratch, spending most of our recess week trying to piece together a new financial and operations plan. The three of us also shot the promotional video for the symposium ourselves, with Alvin and Jia Liang helping to organize the team while I was away doing the elevator pitches.
This whole journey has taught me how important it is to have a strong core. Your closest associates have to be people you can trust and ready to work with and for you in an instant. If the rest of team is unavailable for any reason, such as everyone being away on holiday, the project must still be able to carry on, even if means the few of us are responsible for everything. A large and unwieldy team such as our team of 8 can still succeed when it is driven by the core members.

2. Know when an idea is not working and be ready to change it:

In hindsight, we started with a really weak idea. We were too enamored with the success Tesco enjoyed in South Korea with their concept of QR code based grocery shopping in the subway. Over the course of the lessons, the “cool” factor of the QR code scanning was lost amidst the logistical nightmare of carrying large amounts of inventory and competing in the saturated, oligopolistic supermarket industry.
The strong feedback (and criticism) we received in the week we presented our financials should have been an indicator that we were heading down the wrong track with the e-groceries idea, despite Prof’s encouragement that she too, felt the need to revamp the e-grocery scene.
Initially, we made a lateral shift to become a service provider for the supermarkets. At least we would still retain the essence of our original plan and still hoped to implement the QR code shopping in some manner. Yet after asking people experienced in the industry and doing our own quick research showed the idea might not work out either. Many, if not all, the major supermarket chains had developed or were in the process of developing a more modern e-commerce platform. Although we had just agreed on this change, this revelation made me think hard on the next move. As a start-up service provider, it was going just as difficult to convince supermarkets to come aboard when they have their own platforms of distribution.
After a couple of days of soul-searching, I decided to push for another change in direction. This time to build a recipe delivery system that would soon be GoRecipes.
This experience showed me that in entrepreneurship absolutely nothing is set in stone. Anything can be subject to change if need be. If an idea does not look like it will work out, drop it and change it up. There is no point in pursuing a project that has such high costs. As Prof Pamela puts it, ideas are cheap and who knows, maybe the next mutation could be the launch pad to something great.

3. You’ll know if an idea is the right one when you and your team get more and more excited working towards it:

With so many ideas floating about, it was always going to be difficult to figure out which was the one that was going to work and make it big. I realize that the only real way to determine this is trial and error, to take any one idea and run with it. When you’re running with the right idea, that potential jackpot, you’ll just know it. The whole team will get more and more excited working with it, looking less at the obstacles and more on the successes.
Our entrepreneurship journey was pretty much a tale of two ideas. We had the first one which was e-grocery shopping which somehow did not really cut it. There was the whole technological “x-factor” going for us, but we never really got into the groove. There were just too many logistical issues and many differing viewpoints. Even though people agreed on a certain course of action, it was pretty apparent that at the back of our minds, we doubted ourselves if we could really pull this off.
All this changed the day we changed our idea and refocused on e-recipes and delivery. There was a real buzz about the team, once I had convinced them that change was necessary. This subtle mood shift became more and more apparent as we geared up for the symposium and obtained lots of favourable data along the way, such as promising survey results from our focus groups.
The atmosphere was so different when comparing how we worked on each of our ideas. In both cases we had favourable market research data, but working on our Goceries there so many “what ifs” popping up, while with GoRecipes, we were really excited to see this through. When I first came up with the rough GoRecipes outline, it was almost like a lightbulb turning on. The most important thing was that the concept truly excited me and that was probably the most important indicator for me, if this idea was going to the right one.

This has been a really long write-up. Like I said, I really learn so much during this course. No lie. My journey has taken so many unexpected turns that I'm not even sure my entry does it justice. The bottom line is that TE has been one of the most fulfilling course I have attended. And that's the truth, no fluff.

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TE - 2011/12 Term 2 - Wong Wei Min

by Wong Wei Min

I am pleased to be enrolled to this Technological Entrepreneurship course. This course has enabled me to learn many things that are not taught by other modules in SMU. Throughout my entrepreneur journey in this course, I am able to understand more in-depth about the industry my project is doing on. This is because it requires me to get out of the school class setting and interact with industry people to know what the future outlook is for this industry is like. I find it very fruitful to be able to identify business opportunities in the specific industry that my project is doing on after conducting surveys, consolidating the survey results from people I have interviewed and doing further researches that is not covered in the school textbook. Only through ground work, I will then know for sure whether my business idea is feasible and well-accepted by the public.

There is no doubt that my entrepreneur journey is not as smooth sailing as I thought it would be. Firstly, this is due to the fact that my team has to spend a lot of time per week to refine our business model and business plan. Immediately after the presentation to the class, we will meet up as a group to fine tune our business plan based on my classmates’ feedbacks. I feel that it is very important to be able to accept feedbacks from others and not to be myopic with our group’s own idea. Therefore, one of the thing I have learnt as an entrepreneur is that’s you need to be able to listen to people suggestions cause there are always reasons why people think in a certain manner which we tend to overlook at times. Another thing I have learnt is that as an entrepreneur, we have to be willing to try and learn new things constantly. My group project requires us to create an online website to sell our services to the customers but to come out with an entire website that is fully functional in such a short period of time is not easy, especially since my group only has two programmers trying to do up the website and using the wordpress platform in building a website was a totally new thing to our group.

Secondly, working together as a group was not easy as my group consists of 7 people which can be considered to be quite a large group. Delegation of roles and responsibilities of each individual is important so that we can meet the deadline for all of our presentations. Also, helping one another in the group is important when one of our group mates is not able to finish his / her part. I think that this is more applicable for a start-up as one cannot just wait for his partner to finish his part as the deadline comes close. For a start-up, timing is very important. Launching the product on time and ensuring that the operation follows according to the milestones that were planned will help to reduce the risk of jeopardising its future planning for a start-up.

Thirdly, this course demanded my group to build something out of nothing for my group project. From a simple idea that is slowly shapes and refined by my classmates with guidance from Prof to a feasible business plan that is fit to be presented to investors to start a real business, no words could explain how this journey has impacted me. One will only be able to understand until he has gone through it. As of now, this is only just a project we are currently doing to fulfil the requirement for this Technological Entrepreneurship course. However, I hope that after this course, my group and I are able to get started and transform it into a real business. I believe that it would be a more challenging experience for me and I will definitely be able to learn much more from it.

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by Alvin Tan

Just like Adidas and Nike, “Nothing is impossible” so “Just Do It”. After going through this 13 weeks, I truly understand what these two slogans will create if they are combined together. They create wonderful and astonishing results. It is indeed an exciting journey to have witnessed so many ideas coming into live and becoming real business that will soon reach out to thousands of people.
Time passes by swiftly, without us knowing, we have already come to the end of the semester. I remembered when I first bided for the class, I hesitated whether to keep or drop it because I had heard from friends that this module was very tiring and a lot of work to do. During the first day in class, I was overwhelmed by the fact that most of the students in the class were male and everyone had that very serious look. I was totally clueless to what this module required of us until Prof Pamela Lim said that it is an advance module for students to be an entrepreneur. Furthermore, Prof also added that unlike her other classes where she will guide the students step by step on how to write a business plan and so forth, she will not be doing that to us. To be honest, it took me quite a while to convince myself that I should press on with this module because as a year two students, I have very limited knowledge on all aspect of doing a business and I have zero idea on how to set up a business as compare to some of the other students who have prior experience. The reason why I decided to continue with this module was because entrepreneurship is a field that I have always been interested in and it is like fulfilling one of my ultimate goals in life that is to have my own business which can reach out to millions of people in the world. Another reason is the fact that two of my other friends Patrick and Jia Liang decided to continue with the module.
Intending to tap on the potential in the market that people are getting busier and do not have time to shop for groceries, my group GoRecipes wants to provide a platform for people to go online, choose the recipes that they want to cook and we will deliver the ingredients to them. The journey was tough as we have to make several major decisions through meetings after meetings like changing our initial idea before coming out with the current one. However, we were able to overcome it as everyone was committed in the project and we tend to trash things out if there are any disagreements.
The amazing part of this team is that it comprises of people from six different countries and most of us started off as strangers. After working with them for 13 weeks, I have learnt that it is very important to compromise and understand each of your team members to ensure that this project can go on smoothly and successfully. Take for example, during the recess week, we know that the exchange students will be planning to travel. Hence, for those who will be staying in Singapore, we volunteered to do some of the works so that our exchange students could go and enjoy themselves without having to worry about the project. In addition to that, I am glad that all of our team mates are responsible and taking the previous example. For those who are leaving, they will finish up whatever work tasked to them before flying off. As the chief financial Officer (CFO) of the company, I have the chance to work closely with one of the exchange students, Kim who is from Sweden, he has totally changed my perspective of exchange students. In the past, I tend to have the mentality that exchange students are only here to enjoy themselves and would not be bothered about the school work. However, Kim has proven me wrong. He always provides good quality work and meeting the datelines that were given to him.
I have also learnt that it is important to have a strong and focused leader in the group. It was not easy for Patrick, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, to lead this team because everyone is his peers and it would definitely be hard for him to actually be hard on them. Despite that limitation, Patrick gave very clear instructions and constantly ensured everyone is doing their job. The final goal was clear for us and we just kept working towards it.
Prof Lim has constantly emphasized the point that ideas are cheap and to make the ideas into great ones we would need to put commitment and passion into them. I totally agreed with her because many people can come up with the same idea but it is how those people execute their businesses that will distinguish them from the rest. One example would be bubble tea. It had been around several years ago with brands like each-a-cup, sweet talk etc. There was a period of time when everyone was crazy over bubble tea but the trend disappeared after a while. However, it is only recently that this bubble tea trend comes back again with KOI and Gong Cha dominating the market. All their ideas are the same that is to sell bubble tea but the outcomes are all different. One of the crucial factors that I believe will keep the business going is to be passionate in it and spread that “fire” throughout the whole company. This passion will motivate people in the company to do their best for the organization.
I have also learnt that it is indeed true that through hands on practice and teaching others, we will learn faster than attending lectures. I do not know if this happens to most people but for me, after every semester, I tend to forget almost 50% of the things I learnt. For some of us who knows nothing about setting up website, we were forced to go learn ourselves or to get help from students in the class. Through this method, we tend to remember on the skills we picked up along the way.
In TE class, we are always encouraged to help one another rather than to treat other groups as competitors. This is something that we rarely see in SMU culture. People are always giving constructive feedbacks to help the other team to improve better. Hence, I felt very warm to attend the class every week. Throughout these 13 weeks, I have unknowingly gained a lot of knowledge in terms of both soft and hard skills. It was definitely an enjoyable journey and one of the best modules that I have bided in SMU. I have made a lot of friends and will never forget what I learnt in this class.

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TE-2011/12Term2-Lin Jun Jie Larry

by Lin Jun Jie Larry

Looking back, I came to this class initially quite sceptical about whether I will be able to walk away with a business. Having interviewed local entrepreneurs (for other modules), I was pretty worried that I will be just like any “typical kiasu Singaporean” (fear of failing). However, these 13 weeks has been an awesome roller coaster ride, with its ups and downs, and all in all, an exhilarating ride.

Initial Idea: Rent-a-space
One of the first ideas that my team had was rent-a-space, where we have a café sort of space, and rent out space to student. We were, just like any other budding entrepreneur, full of “belief” in our idea, and thinking that the “sky’s the limit”. However, through Prof Pamela’s reminder, we were reminded of the fact that such a business requires a high start-up cost. That was when we reviewed our whole business idea and decided again on its feasibility, after which we decided to scrap the idea and came up with one2wed.com instead.

Being budding grooms-to-be ourselves, one2wed.com inception was due to the lack of a one stop portal for all wedding needs. We found that users had to navigate between multiple sites, just to find information pertaining to weddings.
As mentioned in one of our initial presentation, one of our selling points was to leverage on our SEO expertise to bring more value to our vendors. I was initially worried about how we can manage to stand out against some of our competitors in the market. However, at the end of it, even though we have not yet overtaken our major competitors in the market, I feel that my team has done pretty well (in terms of SEO score) within a short time span of 3 months.
I also realized that starting a business isn’t as simple as it seems. From things like product pricing to establishing an online presence, everything has to be planned carefully and executed. We also had to do a lot of ground work, and be pro-active in sourcing for vendors and possible partners.

Food for Thought
Looking back at the 13 weeks, I’ve learnt that ideas are cheap, and worthless unless well executed. I also learnt that the first step in being an entrepreneur is always taking that FIRST STEP!!! (Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.) Just take that first step and other good things will follow. I also learnt that business is not just doing something and just waiting for money to come by itself. Especially for start-ups, we have to be pro-active, be it sourcing for vendors, elevator pitches, anything that can be done MUST be done! Of course, I have learnt much more about various aspects of a business, such as writing a business plan, and selecting your partners carefully.

Thank You Note
This is definitely one module that stands out against all the other modules that I have taken throughout my 3 years in SMU, being challenging but rewarding. I will definitely recommend this module to my peers!
Thanks Prof Pamela for all the guidance, and see you around school!


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TEOI-12Term2-Leonard Belot

I chose this course because I wanted to taste entrepreneurship. I have been considering this career for two years now but I can't find an idea that I deeply want to develop.

This first thing I learnt in that course is that the team is more important than ideas, thus confirming what I thought. I therefore joined the team that appeared the most motivated to me : superbutler. I wasn't entirely convinced by the idea but I thought that, as engineering student, I am only convinced by ideas that are technologically superior or inventive.

This is the second learning I take from this class : the idea and the entrepreneurship job doesn't need to be big. It can be a job aside from another one. The entrepreneurship I discovered in Asia is very different from the one I was picturing in France : it doesn't need to be a technological or service revolution or improvement, it just needs to bring money.

I have been quite shy and didn't speak most during this class, and even in my team where I took the seat of CTO, the one I am more confident with. However I saw how important it is for the CEO to delegate its job and to share its vision with the rest of the team.

Concerning the project, I think that a single course is not enough to start a business : you can't get involved enough because of the other classes. I think this is why we abandoned the superbutler project and go for makanbuddy. But with those short deadlines, we couldn't make this project ours, and we just did what was necessary for the grades.

I really enjoyed this course and I am taking another entrepreneurship course back in France.

Thank you!

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TE - 2011/2012(Term2)-Igor Tryhub

by Igor Tryhub

First of all I would like to thank Prof. Pamela Lim and all the students for contributing to the interesting, instructive and extremely motivating Technological Entrepreneurship course. Despite the fact that we did not have to read many theoretical books, I have learnt a lot from doing more practical things and thinking through smallest issues (especially from marketing perspective) that real-world entrepreneurs encounter at the start-up stage. On a more general level, after this module I realized three things:
1. It is extremely important to strike a balance between being passionate and persistent about your business idea and its potential on the one hand, and being realistic and flexible enough to change the direction of your business model development on the other hand.
2. Business planning consists of many parts which are interlinked with one another. At the very beginning of team formation it is crucial to specify which team member is responsible for doing which function. As a member of a team, each founder should understand whose part is interlinked with his/her one in order to ensure that the team has a common understanding and interpretation of discussed issues as well as that there is no overlap.
3. A start-up gives you an opportunity to make something out of nothing but your vision and confidence. It is a good test for your business acumen. After working on GoRecipes (initially GoCeries@SG) project I got very inspired and possess all the qualities necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. I have decided that I will definitely become an entrepreneur or maybe even a venture capitalist sometime in the future, so wish me luck!
I hope that all of the TE students share my passion and determination!

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TE-2011/12 Term 2-Toh Yong Yeow

Knowing that Prof Pamela‘s lesson were more hands-on rather than the traditional approach, bidding for TE was an easy choice. The course description got me really curious about how students were going to create and execute a business idea in 13 weeks, amidst the many other modules that most students would have over a term. Now, having gone through this module, I fully understand how it was possible.

The first 4 weeks were rather uncertain for me, because we had team-mates dropping the course and moving on to other business ideas. The group got a little too small at a point but eventually; we managed to form a group of 4 people, which was a good size for a small startup business. The initial idea of renting space in a café was scrapped due to being too large scale and high startup cost involved, and thus after further brainstorm , came the idea of starting one2wed, a one-stop portal wedding site.

I remember when we first started, there were skepticism about how the idea was going to succeed, how the site is going to ‘fight’ against more established sites etc. Of which, was eventually put to rest when Prof quoted us this example: “Yahoo was the big player in the search engine market, and back then, Google too was nowhere near that standard. Now Google is a major success and Yahoo’s success would be what we call, history.” And that was how we set our goal to be, to be the “must go to” site for wedding information.

Throughout the course, I learnt pretty much about myself, and also what is it like to be starting up one’s business. Like the question I posed above in the first paragraph, I understood that if we keep telling ourselves we have no time to start a business, then we would never be able to start one. Which is similar in life; if we never start something, we would never find out what happens and that’s one chance gone. And that’s where I feel TE comes in, ‘forcing’ student to rapidly start a business and experience firsthand what’s it like, with absolutely nothing to lose but only gains.

I’ve also learnt much about forming teams and how it is important have a strong partnership/team if one wants to push the business idea through. Can friends be business partners? That’s definitely a tricky one. ‘Cause each one in the team have to learn to complement one another, not having individualistic mindset, but work as a team towards a common goal. It really is a delicate balance between keeping the friendship while keeping the partnership healthy. Disagreements in team are sometimes inevitable and my team is no exception, but having known all of my team mates from various classes in the past, we were able to resolve easily and move on. I must say, that sometimes, better ideas come out of such disagreement! :))

The elevator pitch was something which I enjoyed doing. Not only you get valuable feedback from entrepreneurs themselves, but also having chance to experience what it is like pitching an idea in such a short time and tight space. Though the investors were fellow seniors from SMU who had successfully started out their business, I must say, I still felt that ‘butterfly in stomach’ while doing so! I could really imagine how nervous one would be even, when pitching to industry veteran or VCs.

This course gave me an experience which is totally refreshing, as compared with most other courses in SMU. I’ve learnt a great deal from all my fellow classmates and thoroughly enjoyed all the business ideas presented throughout the course. Thank you Prof Pamela for all the guidance! And see you around !

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TE-2011/12 Term2 - Koh Wee Heng Lionel

by Koh Wee Heng Lionel

HomeBuzz For The Win

HomeBuzz For The Win

Entrepreneurship is something that I have always been strong headed about. In today’s society, there are many industries that are saturated. Yet, the intriguing part of society, industries and business is that young start-ups can come up and be successful and it all lies to qualities such as being innovative.

The Technological Entrepreneurship made me grow in many different ways. Firstly to start off, I am usually skeptical about doing business with people I do not know. It might boil down to issues such as ability to cope with each other’s working style. However, this module sorts of “forces” us to work with people that we might not know and in some sense reflects the true business world outside if we would to expand our business, hire employees and investors to our company. As certain times, we might find some employees hard to work with and some investors are usually hard to please and yet we have to make decisions to the best of the company as these decisions usually affect the outcome of the company to a large extend. In this sense, this module really trains us to have good team dynamics to start off with.

I learned a lot of useful planning skills as well as how to craft things that were taught in class such as the company’s sound bite, crafting a business plan and learning how the importance of how the verbal presentation (business plan, elevator pitch) of our company will affect people’s impression of our company. Prof Pamela also taught us a lot of technicalities which were not what we could get from textbooks such as how to search for locality as well as how to get investors to invest in our company.

I think the most important take away in this module is what we cannot learn in the books or what we cannot learn through theory but actually experiencing it by doing it. Being the CTO, naturally, designing the website was the main bulk of my job. However, to get a proper website up and running, we definitely would have to get some sort of web hosting and domain hosting. We could have done it on a localhost and tested out the site however, that would not have given us the actually simulation of SEO optimization, latency issues and other “unexpected” errors that you might encounter with a live site. It was down to two choices, 1) Coughing up around 100 dollars for all the hosting stuff or 2) approaching someone to get it for free. It was then that I decided to send an e-mail to the MD of Vodien, which I had wrote in a feedback 1 year ago on one of his employees to thank them for their help on a freelance job that I did. Not knowing whether this guy would accept my request or worse still, remember who I am, I decided to give it a shot. To cut the story short, the end result was that the MD of Vodien actually remembered who I was and actually accepted that request. To make the deal even sweeter, he actually extended this to all TE modules that were to be taught in future in SMU. This actually made me realize two points that firstly, networking is extremely important when you are out in the working world. Secondly, it made me realize that in life, we have to try to make the best of the situation. If I did not e-mail him, I would not have been able to get the deal for the whole class and the worse it could get if I tried was that he ignored the e-mail which was not a very big loss at the end of the day.
The other key learning point that I took away was from the guest speaker’s session. I did do a reflection on the guest speaker’s session in the 2nd reflection, however, I felt that this point is worth iterating here as it was not part of the reflection due to the context of the questions that we were required to tackle. Through the speech of all 3 speakers, I realized that all 3 of them were successful down to 3 factors which Prof Pamela stressed time and again in here class and those are: passion, hard work and having a good business partner.
Last but not least I would like to thank my group mates, the rest of groups, Prof Pamela and our TA Bryan for a wonder job this semester. My group has been supportive of each other even though we started off quite badly as we did not really know each other’s working style. We learned a lot from each other due to the different faculties that we come from and the different expertise that each other had. As for the other group, it was interesting to note all the different ideas that you guys had and hear of all the different opinions that we all might have on each other’s business ideas. It provided a good insight to the way people react differently to a particular business. As for Bryan, it was nice to learn from you how one could approach our business from different ways and also due to the workload of the course; it was good that we had a TA that we can rely on that answers all our queries. Last but not least, Prof Pamela, it was an honour to be under your tutelage and that you share your experience with us. You have certainly brought real life scenarios and learning lessons that are valuable to us not only to our startup business but living our life to the fullest as well. TE – A life changing experience.

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TE - AY2011/12 Term 2 - Siah Hwei Ting

It is common knowledge that starting a business is never easy and initially, having the idea of starting a business in just 13 weeks sounded really impossible to me. I had bidded for this module because I had to clear my Technology and Entrepreneur Elective for graduation and there was not another module that sounded as interesting as this. I am glad I had made this choice. I would highlight three key lessons that I had learnt from the class.

The journey of starting a business in class, with people I did not know from before was indeed full of challenges and had really stretched me to my limits. Being unfamiliar with the working styles of the individuals in the group, it was not easy in anyway to coordinate the different areas of the business. Being placed in the situation, we had to learn to adopt to different working styles and making the best out of the limitations we faced.

Besides learning to work with different people, another key lesson that I had picked up is the process of learning to resolve conflicts. During the process, it was not all smooth sailing. There were times that we had felt that another person in the team might not have met the standards of the team. During times like these, I had learnt that it is important to step in and do a little more so that the difference is being mitigated.

The last key lesson is learning to manage expectations. Starting a business in 13 weeks sounded ridiculous to me initially, but that expectation had to be managed or we would not be where we are today, having started a fully functioning website and having completed two rounds of business plan presentations. The journey had indeed been a rollercoaster ride. Being the CEO of the business, besides managing my expectations, I also had to manage the team's expectations. Honestly, it was not easy in any aspect of the journey. It was a good experience to have because I had truly learnt more about human relationships through this short journey of thirteen weeks.

Though it was not easy, I am glad I had made the choice to bid for this module because of the many learning experiences I could go through in this module. Such experiences are enjoyable and may be painful at times, but I think it truly reflected the true spirit of entrepreneurship.

Last but not least, I want to express my gratitude towards the powerful experiences I had gained in this journey. Thank you, prof!

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TE-2012Term2-Moritz Stegers

At the beginning of TE, I honestly did not have a clear idea what this course will be about. Except the Course description, which is sometimes not deeply helpful, I had no clue what I should expect from TE. It seemed to be as the course would be as theoretical as all other classes. However, to my astonishment it turned out to be totally different. Indeed, I very appreciated the open and inspiring atmosphere created both by Prof. Pamela and TA Bryan, but also by other classmates. In the end, the classes itself were everything else but boring. Mostly, Prof Pamela spared us monologs and too much theory. Instead, from the second lecture on the classes were filled up with presentations on every group’s progress in terms of their business idea, difficulties of all nature and but also chances faced. Prof Pamela then gave helpful feedback, based on her personal experiences in terms of business creation. Moreover, Bryan had good tips and support due to the fact that he is himself an entrepreneur. In addition to the progress presentations, each group had to prepare an informative presentation on all relevant topics for entrepreneurs. Whether it concerned business plan creation, or other subjects like management team etc. Therefore, this class not only provided me with practical advises but also theoretical background information which every entrepreneur has to bear in mind in order to start a business, assess capacity, consider risks and chances, source funds and support, respect laws and the mechanisms and rules of the market.

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TE-2011/2012 Term 2-TE-Ernest Cai Kunrong

by Ernest Cai Kunrong
(Singapore, Singapore Management University)

Team Picture with Professor

Team Picture with Professor

It's so amazing that 13 weeks of class time ended in just a blink. I believe I joined this class with a different reason unlike many others just to clear the degree requirement. I took this up upon as an additional credit and wanted to create something before I graduate and hope to have the experience to establish a business.

Having the prior knowledge on a similar module IT and Business Innovation, this led me to understand the importance of getting beyond to "just talking" as what Professor Pamela mentioned in class.

My experience was an awesome one. I believe my team started off shaky with an idea that was not truly developed. However, we made use for various techniques to validate our ideas for sustainability of the business idea such as talking to industry professionals from media agencies to look out for the figures they want and potential end users from the retailers and consumers. It was not easy to manage a team of 8 members especially with various targets we have set. I am delighted that we have a really good mix of technical and business students who are able to share various perspective of the business idea and this is really important as we cover up certain blind spots. The idea of having a technical and marketing team for all to begin at ground zero. Initially I had certain reservations on how we tackled this project just purely for a credit unit in school and the most important element was to get out of the "motherhood" stigma.

I resemble this project similar to my final year project in the School of Information Systems. With effective project management skills we delivered a live product within 9 weeks of term time. But the most rewarding part to me is when potential retailers/subscribers believe that there is a market for our solution. At the end of the term project, I'm very happy to say that we managed to get the buy-in from 6 retailers.

Moving forward, after this project the determination to try going to pursue the iJAM Funding is my next target. I believe that being young is one of the benefits and we have nothing much to loose yet. It's a point where we can learn and to improve the business model to be sustainable. I strongly believe that there is a market for that in Singapore but the question is how long will this survive before interest level goes down or before a strong competitor arises. Therefore the first mover advantage is essential for our business and to look at the exit strategy at the end of the day. Whether to sell the business or to expand the business model is something I can look at. It is also important to have the skill on how to frame your business in terms of the network effect it'll cause and the returns. This is important because that's where the venture capitalist looks at when making the decision of whether or not to invest. Many of us would be guilty on just saying that the business idea is not feasible or lousy. However, the most important thing is to be able to give an opinion to the business idea at the end of the day and make yourself believe that it changed from a lousy to a viable idea. I would attribute this learning point to be one of my greatest takeaway from this module.

In conclusion, this is an amazing module to end my final semester of SMU and I am going to pursue something once I've graduated from the TE course! Lastly, many thanks to Prof and TA for the comments along the way!


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TE- 2012 Term 2 - Lim Yihao

by Yihao

The Course

Throughout this TE class, I have gained many invaluable insights into being an entrepreneur. The journey that I too from the inception of idea to convincing my teammates to take up this idea to the presentation of the idea to the class and eventually even potentially turning this into a full fledged business is an experience that I cannot describe simply in a journal like this.

This experience has been nothing short of an adventure to me; I have experienced the emotional high of impressing retailers with our ideas and marketing plans to the lows of being told by some that “Your idea will not work” and having an initial low pick up rate by consumers.

Although a bulk of the class can be simply labeled as “story telling” by Prof Lim, I still consider these stories to be in integral part of the course because Prof was telling us stories by her experience, not by some case study in Harvard Business Review. The fact that she has been there and done that brings the stories to life because it adds an additional dimension into the course.

On the other hand, we were also led through the operations of running a small company where we were exposed to the complex financials of writing down short term to long term revenue projections for our company.

The course also emphasizes a lot on “soft skill” like presentation skills, creating a sound bite that will entice investors to come back for more and last but not least, the way on how small companies should protect themselves against vulture-like venture capitalists. Allow me to indulge further in this topic because this idea of “protection against VC” didn't really come across my mind at all when I just started to run my own company.

I always had a naïve thought that a VC was someone who is interested to invest in your company with an intention of helping you grow, very much different from the VC examples that I have seen in videos that prof has shown to us in class. I never thought that a VC could be a shark and potentially “destroy” the company you built from scratch.

One classic example that I will remember always is the case of “Daisy Cakes”. The ignorant and seemingly uneducated founder was willing to give away 25% of her company for a small amount of $50,000. Initially I thought that was a good deal until I realized that her company had the potential of creating up to $10,000 worth of revenue every month. This meant that her valuation of her company was way below the acceptable value and it also led her to be in a very undesirable position where the lady “shark” asked for $1 for every cake sold in return for 25% equity in her company.

Subsequently the investor, Barbara Corcoran, talks to a television programme on how that was her best investment. The company had a good product, the founder, Miss Kim Nelson was very passionate about her products and what held them back was only the lack of funds. Although the programme didn't emphasize much on how the equity deal was undesirable, many members of the class immediately realized this and we thought that the root cause of this happening was because Miss. Nelson had a wrong valuation of her company.

The Team

My team’s project was called AdYourFace and our project is designed to help consumers and merchants alike to reduce advertorial resource wastage. The resource linked to advertorial wastage could be broken to 2 main parts, Time and Money. On the consumer’s side, the main wastage contributed to advertorial is time. This is primarily because although there are new ways of advertising like social media nowadays, the methods of these advertisements are still quite primitive.

This is because the ways that the merchants deliver messages to consumers is via “push” methods and when this happens, the consumers are not in a position to control what they want to see and this frustrates them. Take for example an advertisement break is suddenly introduced in Singapore Idol just before the MC announce the winner of the variety show, the audiences would be very frustrated because they are not interested in the product that is being “pushed” to them in the commercial. So our team devised a way to let consumers see commercials that interests them, in the process reducing the cost of companies spending on expensive television commercials because now they are only paying per click.

My team has a good mix of SIS and business students and I feel that this is very ideal because having people coming from different disciplines gives another perspective into the things that are in discussion. Having people from different disciplines also allows the task to be handled by the best “qualified” person. But having a diverse and big team also brings its own set of problems. The time needed to agree upon something is sometimes incredibly long and we had to learn to set our own rules on decision-making. For example, if a person were absent, he wouldn't be allowed to change the idea that was decided upon by the group earlier.

The Future

So what is in stall for AdYourFace? My team and I have ambitious plans to escalate the outreach of our platform to merchants and consumers alike. We have some marketing plans in the pipeline to create awareness to consumers via ice cream giveaways. We are also planning new guerilla marketing campaigns to show consumers our logo pasted on stickers, magnets or seminar rooms in SMU to get everyone’s attention on who exactly we are.

As of now AdYourFace is targeting primarily consumers in the tertiary institutes but we hope to eventually reach out to the mass public. This would be done through campaigns via major social media avenues. On the merchant side, we would also step up our search for the next interesting concept café or shop. We want to be on the forefront of “Freshness” in Singapore. We have plans to create advertising competitions for students to design advertorials for companies that doesn't have their own collaterals to market with.

In essence, we hope to increase our user consumer base reach from 8000 on Facebook now to 140,000 in 3 years time.

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TE- 2011/12 Term2- Ng Shao Quan

by ng shao quan

It has been a fascinating 14 week journey, filled with ups and downs, laughter as well as stress. It all started in a group study room in School of Business during my team’s idea generation phase. The genesis of our idea is really a combination of few ideas- while I thought of chasing advertisement dollars, others entertained thoughts of building an ecosystem for consumers. Then it all came, we asked ourselves ‘if I am paying someone money to watch an advertisement, who wouldn’t watch it?’ So that was version one of our business idea- we pay consumers a portion of our revenue (from advertisers) whenever they watch an advertisement.

Version one got everyone in the team excited; we rejoiced as we thought we had a solid business case and a mafia offer to all our stakeholders (advertisers and consumers). However, things did not go smoothly thereafter. As the saying goes, the devil lies in the details. We encountered problems when we started hammering out our business revenue model. We realized it was virtually impossible to sustain a model where 1) consumers get paid whenever they watch an advertisement 2) but our cash flows come only at the end of each month. This issue dragged on till week 7 when version two of our idea was born.

(Key take away 1: never get too carried away with an idea. Whilst it is good to be excited and enthusiastic about an idea, it’s equally important to have a reality and practicality check in early stages. The best way to do it? Have a mental walk through of the business revenue model then talk to people about it. They can provide the much needed sanity check objectively.

Let me make a qualifying statement regarding talking to people- personally, I have discussed this idea with a lot of my friends and I have received a lot of different comments. With every constructive feedback, it is also accompanied by a lot of ‘noise’. It is an important skill to distinguish real advice and noise. My solution? Talk to close friends who you can trust. They are likely to be your real advisers.)

At the outset, it was Sebastian and me talking about introducing novelty to our audience. Both of us were fascinated with movie trailers- despite being an advertisement, a trailer never fails to capture an audience attention simply because it is novel. We also realized that new product trailers are currently always mixed with reminder branding advertisements in existing media channels. That was the inception of business idea version two; this time we asked ourselves ‘why don’t we build a platform that only shows new product trailers?’

(Key take away 2: it is important to let your creative juices flow. While I believe it is important to always keep an eye on your business, it is also important to pay attention to the external environment as well because they can be the best source of creativity and innovation. In my case, a simple movie trailer was my biggest source of inspiration)

While version one had been an instant hit that resonated with everyone in the team, version two was different. As the ‘CEO’, I clearly know it is my job to steer my team in the right direction. Armed with version two, I begin convincing 6 of my other team mates, one at a time. It was never easy. While everyone embrace the intellectual concept of flexibility, it is difficult to convince them to take the leap of faith with me to change our business idea in week 7! On top of this, I was besieged with questions like ‘Focusing on novelty is a small market, why don’t we go mass? How did I win them over? It took patience, persuasion, and vision.

(Key take away 3: It is important for an entrepreneur to build his vision for the business, a mental roadmap as to what he or she envisions the company to be in the next five years. In my case, thinking forward really spurred me to think hard about the business strategy in the context of 1) demand and supply as well as 2) competition. Through this exercise, it helped me gauge the level of demand. More importantly, it allowed me to think about how I want to position my business relative to my competitors.

After you have built your vision, it is also very important to share your vision with your partners. As entrepreneurs just starting out, the greatest assets(and constraints) you have is people. So make the greatest effort to convince everyone to share in the same vision so everyone is making efforts in the same direction.)

Parting words:

I really relished this opportunity to be an entrepreneur, taking some risk and exploring the unknown. Personal highlights in the course include: 1) random pitching to retailers in sunshine plaza and 2) doing elevator pitch in a lift full of people! People always think that the upside to business is making tons of money. I think there is another upside: the opportunity to receive surprises every day.

In my key takeaways, I mentioned three points: 1) having a sanity check early 2) look out for sources of inspiration in the external environment (there are plenty of them) 3) have a vision for the business. The last and most important is actually the people in the team. While I appreciate the diversity in skills (business, economics, information systems), I also appreciate the diversity in personality as well. Entrepreneurs should seek and embrace diversity in the team. Finding the A team where everyone complements each other in terms of skills and personality can mean a difference between success and failure. As what prof said, ‘Great Ideas don’t make great businesses, great people do!’

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TE-2011/12Term2-Wesly Cortez

by Wesly Paul Cortez
(Philippines )

TOP 3 THINGS I LEARNED IN CLASS (and yes, these things are not off the book)

The Technological Entrepreneurship class has always been the class that starts my week right. Apart from the fact that it challenges me to wake up at 7:30 in the morning for an 8:30 class, the challenge continues on in the seminar room where we concoct ideas from the mundane to the most out-of-the-box. It has always posed on me a lot of hurdles, a lot of things that I haven't had the chance to stumble on... And still, every time we meet at SOB, there's something new, fresh and innovative that we think about. For the past 14 weeks in this class, it has taught me a whole set of new perspectives that would surely make me a true-to-life inspiring entrepreneur back home in the Philippines, and my top 3 new learnings are:

1. The Cayman Islands is a good place to start a business.

Well, it's not just that actually, but a whole lot of practical pieces of advice that the class, as well as Prof. Pamela, has mentioned throughout the semester that made going to TE class more interesting. Now I know the rigors and requisites going into an IPO, the terms like bootstrapping to jumpstart a business, even the countries like the Caymans where we can start putting up businesses. These things, too practical as it may sound, made me realize that for someone to start a business, one must learn the ropes from real entrepreneurs themselves - just like Prof and my other classmates in TE.

2. A mix of Germans, Filipinos, Ukrainians, Swedes as well as a lot of Singaporeans makes a good team.

Little did I know that this bunch of "misfits", as our video said, really made a lot of headway in our business plan preparation. There were times that we changed directions, planned a lot or even made a paradigm shift towards new ventures like skipping Go-ceries to GoRecipes. But because of the dynamism,the contribution of each individual in the team and our different perspectives from the different parts of the globe, these changes weren't that much felt in the whole course of our teamwork. Our specializations made the team grow more cohesive, and at the same time, our team goals and business mission increased our desire to make our business plan as competitive and lucrative as it is. And, of course, we also have our share of guffaws and inside jokes, thus creating an environment that is bursting at the seams with new, innovative and fun ideas.

3. Ideas are cheap.

This is the one liner that could sum up my whole TE experience. We may have lots and lots of good ideas, good insights on gaps in the market or something we would want to improve on, but at the end of the day, it is how you SELL the idea and make it appealing for it to shoot off. Execution is key in business creation and we practically live on this premise for the entire 14 weeks of our stay in the TE class. It made us realize that for one to be serious in starting up a business, one must be able to transform an idea, may it be ordinary or not, into something that sparks the interest of the consumers and the venturers.

To sum it all up, I have seen a lot of great works in our TE class - Makan Buddy, One2Wed, YouStamp, AdYourFace, and HomeBuzz... and I personally all of them would be great business ventures out there. I would definitely miss the exchanges of insights, the personal stories of Prof's business experiences and even the activities we undergo in class. Rounding up this journal, this experience made me realize that PERSISTENCE is key to build up a business. As mentioned by Prof in class, the Philippines is a whole different matter when it comes to setting up a business, but armed with my learnings here in TE as well as the passion and perseverance in my idea going forward, no matter how long the queue might be, I know I will reach the end.

Thank you to my TE class and to Prof for such a wonderful experience and definitely I will share the wonderful experiences I had in class with my fellow Filipinos back home. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat! (Thank you to everyone!)

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TE-2011/12 Spring- Frederic Christopher Rupprecht

by Frederic Rupprecht
(Hamburg, Germany)

Team Youstamp

Team Youstamp

The Technological Entrepreneurship course was a really inspiring journey for me and exceeded all my expectations. I learned things that no one normally could teach in classroom but through Prof’s modern teaching style and great experience in entrepreneurship she did it. I believe we can only get an idea of how to start an own business by either trying it out (what we did at class) or by talking to people that have successfully started up their own business (what we also did). So this course really made my time at SMU.

What do I take home from this course? I learned that outstanding and great people are the foundation of a successful company and also allow to challenge one’s own views. I realised not to focus solely on GPA but rather to make life experiences that are far more important than a good grade. In my life I also always tried to gain unique experiences besides the school education. Therefore, I was always engaged in several student representative functions, social work, and finally started my own business with some colleagues at university. Now I am even more convinced that this is the right way to go and gained more confidence.

While I am on exchange at SMU I am constantly thinking how I want to continue my studies and what I expect from my future work. Through the intense focus on entrepreneurship at SMU and the inspiring class spirit I now want to follow my passion to create something on my own, to make something meaningful for the world instead to work for a big company. How will I get there? I think I will keep on working with my colleagues on our start up YouStamp that we developed in Pamela’s course, as there is a great potential in Germany and is a huge benefit for users.

Finally, the most important thing I take home from the great entrepreneurial time at SMU is a unique and passionate team that grew together. We share now so many experiences that will last for a life.

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TE-2012-T2-Shawn Leong

-Joining the course-
Thinking back on how I even enrolled into the module, I had to say that it really was on a whim. Being involved in a the start of a 6-month long marketing competition and involved in a bid for glassroom, I was planning to take the term alittle more easy. Hence, you could probably see my reluctance and hesitation when Jerome called me to persuade me to join the module. Of course, all this was happening in the last bidding window in Week 2.

I’m not sure whether it was the lack of sleep from rushing a submission for the competition the day before but my thought process went, “Screw it. What’s the worst that could happen? You never know where it takes you.” And of course, looking back, it was one of the better decisions I made in my life.

-The Initial Idea-
Having missed the first class, when Jerome pitched the original idea of SuperButler to me over the phone, it certainly took me quite awhile to understand what was it about. I could see where the issues of this business would be, logistics and manpower in scaling.

My feedback to Jerome was that it wasn’t a sexy idea but there was definitely a market if executed proper. I kind of regret that moment because it started his obsession with butlers with 6 pack abs in bowties for the image of the company didn’t help... at all (he has a pretty deranged fetish about it). Heh.

Through the initial 6 weeks, we’ve probably knocked heads over the strategy for the business and how it should be executed to even be feasible.

It was possible to execute it but we hadn’t resolved the manpower and competitive advantage over normal cleaning companies. Things were definitely looking down as we plowed through the ways to make it feasible.

-Changing the idea-
It was during break week that I walked into the meeting room and was pleasantly surprised that no one did the taskings assigned a week earlier, because I didn’t either. Marcus was pitching an idea for an app that helped connect people in MRTs, adoption and barriers to usage was an issue. There was a real problem but how we tackled it warranted further thought. Distilling down the idea to the essence of just connecting strangers, I thought food was a great way to get people talking... besides, there’s nothing more we like as Singaporeans.

And that’s where the idea really came together. With 3 weeks left to a presentation, there was alot of work to do to catch up on those previous 7 weeks. But, there was this passion and drive to see the idea through that we didn’t have for Superbutler. I remember staying overnight with Jerome in school to work on the UI and website. Good times. And the thing was that we really wanted to do it and see it to fruition. I guess belief in an idea that excites you really goes a long way. We knew the hard work involved in changing the idea but we saw it as a challenge.

-My learning points-
>It’s alittle crazy but it’s worth trying most things in life and see where it takes you.
>Find a great team. Find people who disagree with you.
>Find an idea that really excites you, don’t be afraid to change it at the 11th hour.

-On the course-
Of course, we were doing it initially for the grades. But it’s really true when Prof Lim tells you not to do it for the grades but rather for the experience. The experiences learnt from this class are far more valuable than the grade itself. Entrepreneurship is not something that can be learnt through just theory, but it’s only when you get your hands dirty that you learn the most. By doing that, TE just happens to be that course in SMU that gives you that sense of achievement that no other course can.

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TE-2011/12 Spring - Peter Wibbe

by Peter

Your semester abroad is a once in a lifetime experience. It is about the personal experience you gain from a new culture you are in and the new people you get to know. That is what you always hear when people talk about their semester abroad. Therefore, my expectations towards a great time were more about the life and the people than the university and the courses. However, Technological Entrepreneurship taught me otherwise.

Thanks to this course I was able to get a complete different view on some things. It was not the normal teaching style as in here is the knowledge go and learn it by heart. You were expected to be creative and come to your own ideas and conclusions. Helping each other to evaluate on our ideas in class helped spotting problems and opportunities you yourself did not see. That showed me how important team work is.

This course furthermore showed that not everything is about your GPA. There is a lot more to founding a successful company than knowing how to solve different equations. Putting us in real life situations like the elevator pitch helped us to develop personal skills like selling yourself to persons you do not know. These are skills which will be useful our whole life.

Furthermore, the project and the business idea also formed YouStamp together as a team. We kept helping each other out and we are still talking about our team meetings which not only turned out to be productive but ended in a great night out at Clarke Quay.

I want to use this possibility again to thank the Prof and the whole class for this great experience. I learned a lot and I am very grateful that I have met you all!

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TE-2011/12Term2-Marcus Wong

by Wong Jun Wei Marcus

It seemed just like yesterday that I enrolled in this course. I came to this course, expecting to learn entrepreneurship. I have had much about Prof Pamela and it was an exciting moment when I first came to class.

I remembered that the first thing we had to do was to pitch our ideas to the class and gather partners or people who were keen on working together to bring this idea to higher ground. I heard many different ideas and finally decided to join SuperButler. Over time, our group formed and we had six members, comprising of Jerome, Shawn, Jia Wei, Amanda, Leonard and myself.

We worked on SuperButler all along, right up to two weeks before the Guest Lecture. Suddenly, we had a new concept, a new idea, and a new direction. We decided to take on and work on MakanBuddy, which is a social dining platform. We worked against time and managed to achieve what we did in 8 weeks in just two weeks.

This taught me the lesson on flexibility and the need for entrepreneurs to react to situations in a quick and efficient manner.

Of course, there were many lessons that I picked up during lessons or during the course of the project, but the most valuable lesson that I took away was not the theories of starting or running a business, but simply the relationships and friendships that were forged during this course. I'm glad to have a group who was able to work together, chipping in their part during the whole course of this project. The network that I found was more valuable than any other lessons I could learn in the course.

I'm glad to have Jerome as the leader of the group, guiding us through the whole process. To see the creative man, Shawn, in action was definitely an eye-opening experience for a dull man like me. Watching Jia Wei, who is meticulous in his work and details was a joy. Amanda was hardworking in putting the finances together. Leonard, being an exchange student, allowed me to interact with someone from a different nationality and enjoy the contributions that he put into this venture.

It is the people in this course that made this course valuable to me and I do hope to continue working on future collaborations with them.

Much thanks has to be given to Prof Pamela for her dedication in putting this course together, else I wouldn't have the opportunity to work alongside such a great team.

In conclusion, I may have forgotten the lessons and theories, or even the business plan, but the relationships forged would not be forgotten.

Thank you all once again for this amazing journey!

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TE - 2012 Term 2 - Goh Charles Sebastian

by Goh Charles Sebastian

My Experience

At the start when I first made the choice to take on this TE course, I was expecting it to be a standard course where I get to still go through the basics of how to do a business, but from a much more technical perspective (i.e. about IT, websites and the list goes on). However, little did I know that I would be embarking on a journey where I was to execute a business plan in an extremely short span of less than 13 weeks. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed listening to stories from Pamela Lim and also justifications to her practical application pointers to businesses, like how it might be more advisable to not have an equal 50-50 share between two partners at the start of the business. These are pointers which only experience can buy, and that I feel is extremely value adding to people like us who wish to start something on our own in future. Besides the academic side, I also went through a gruelling but fulfilling time with my other teammates during this course and my learning points are as described below:

(1) I learnt that having a common direction within the team is extremely important, especially when the team is big. Our team was pretty huge with 8 people in total. As a result, it was not only hard to coordinate all our timings together, but also to ensure that everyone agreed to a specific common direction. This resulted in quite a substantial amount of friction and time dedication, but like all happy endings, we managed to find this common direction after a while.

(2) During the course of doing a business, knowing each other’s strengths and trusting one another is very important. I don’t have a technical background in IT per se, but I knew that others had such expertise and I believe that it was important to trust that they would deliver everything in time. At the same time, I also worked on portions which I could help most, which would be the financial areas and for the marketing side.

(3) Throughout this whole process, I also had a chance to work with people who possess IT technical skills which was really interesting, because I had the opportunity to understand better a lot more technicalities. Sure I didn’t understand a lot of the IT jargon, but at least I can get a flavour of what the IT challenges are, such as the differences between programming an application versus a website. And even within applications itself, programming one on an iPhone would require a different language from that of the android phones. I also got a better understanding of the costs for the backend IT side, which is also interesting to me.

(4) Trying to execute a working business helped me to realise the immense intensity required to execute a business within a very short span of time. This required lots of sacrifices from our team because large amounts of time a week were dedicated towards making this project happen. Late nights and frequent meetings were just about all in a day’s work for our team. Though it was no easy task, I believed that my team came a long way through from 13 weeks ago and I’m proud of our achievements.

(5) Last but not least, I think it is important to learn to have fun while doing a business. This is because doing a business is not all about the results, but more importantly, the process as well. It is important to appreciate the learning points as we go along in doing a business and continually reflect to see how we can improve ourselves, and to see how much more fun we can get along the journey. In this project I thought it was really fun to go out and try pitching our business when I went with a few of my teammates to pitch to a new ice cream shop.

To conclude, I’d just like to say that I look forward to doing a business in future and I would always bear in mind my learning points from this class as I move ahead into the future.

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TE - 2011/12 Term2 - Lie Jun Jie

by Lie Jun Jie, Sebastian

In 13 weeks, we went from business idea generation to execution and implementation. From the highs of getting positive responses from retailers to the frustrations in developing our operations and facing, negative feedback from consumers, this was indeed an emotional roller-coaster. However, it is this experience that has left me with much insights and a different view to entrepreneurship.

Ideas are cheap and plentiful, what matters most is the execution. That’s one key learning point I took away from Prof. It’s not surprising to be guarded against outsiders and not share too much with them, especially when you think you stumble upon your pot of gold. But it is this selfish-ness that often leaves you isolated from the rest of the world and not receive feedback and responses that would have given you a better view of your business idea and sharpen your ideas into something concrete. My group has benefitted much from the critique sessions and presentations with the class. Hearing everyone’s feedback about our idea has given us insights into our potential consumers’ mindsets and has shaped our idea into a more concrete product. I learnt that what matters is not whether your ideas are shared but how the ideas are executed.

Taking action. That’s another learning point I took away, this time from the guest speaker. Mr Yee’s story about how he went full steam ahead even with 3 young kid really made me understand the merits of taking actions on your ideas. It also helped that this class requires a working prototype to be up and ready and this really showed me how much you can achieve if you set your mind to it and really take action on your idea.

Listen. Listen to your consumers, listen to your competition, and listen to anyone who’s willing to tell you something about your product. Pitches to friends and families gave us a better idea of what people really wanted. Scouting around the net to understand our competition gave us a better idea of what our competitors were saying about the needs of the consumers. In the weeks leading up to the final presentation, we were rushing against the deadline and we too focused on doing what we thought people wanted. Much work had been put in to develop the backend operations for our reward system but listening to feedback from everyone gave us the impression what we initially thought would attract people would instead have the opposite effect. We had to change it at a huge cost to manpower but I was glad we did. No matter how much work has been put in, if it doesn’t meet consumers’ needs, it wouldn’t be useful. I learnt that it is important to always ask questions and listen to others. Only by doing so, can we ensure that we don’t deviate from addressing the consumers’ needs.

In some ways, this is indeed a good end to my time in SMU. Instead of the usual learning from textbooks and Harvard Cases, I have learnt much through the various interaction sessions with my peers and getting insights from guest seminars. I hardly touched any textbooks but I believed that the knowledge and insights obtained from this course is greatly beneficial to me.
My team has worked hard on our idea and seeing how a business idea has now become a concrete product allows me to feel the thrill of being an entrepreneur. I’m proud of what we have achieved so far and even more excited to take on future challenges. We are now standing at the crossroads, deciding our next step. The insights and experiences gained from the class will put us in good stead for future challenges.
Thank you Prof for an enriching experience, your class has been enjoyable and insightful. Thank you class for all the sharing, I have indeed learnt much from everyone’s diverse experiences and opinions. And thank you team AdYourFace, for all the hard work; we have much to accomplish in the future.

The class may have ended but I believe that my entrepreneurial journey has just begun.

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John Goh

by John Goh

Is this really week 13 already. Being inspired to be a budding entrepreneur myself. I'm penning down my thoughts in the reflection towards the journey i set out for myself when i started out in this module.

I came to this class with selfish reasons wanting to know again if entrepreneurship was the right path for me. Throughout this past three years in SMU, I hear almost nothing about entrepreneurial activities in school. Everybody was talking about great jobs, ideal internships, gpa, girlfriends, graduation trips and stuffs. None of them was anything about building great ideas and businesses. Even if there is, hardly students here really walk the talk. But I knew I have a creative spark within me, but I just needed a push, or somebody to kick it off again. The passion reignited in me during the final presentation week, right after makanbuddy took their idea on stage.

Prof Pamela and the class gave me a reason to get back on track. I am be able to leverage on skills I have developed so far to my advantage, and probably (an idea Prof Pam shared with me) that I can just focus on the technical aspects of the business, get my equity stake in return. I am keen to explore to anybody who is reading this :).

Just sharing, I recently worked with Kallang Cage to develop their iPhone application for my final year project - the app is launched on appstore. The boss told my team something insightful, "someday, perhaps six to seven years later, at the end of the day you will come to ask yourself why do you want to work for someone else? when you can be your own boss". I hope to inspire people who also has skills alike me to come together to help someone achieve or build our own product.

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by Ng Wei Quan

The journey of an entrepreneur started off with the SMU module MGMT 324, or at least for me.

Knowledge is Power
Personally I felt a sense of achievement after the module because of the wide range of knowledge learned through the course. I must admit that most of the information available was just being skimmed through by Professor Pamela. However, she did manage to educate us through peer presentation. I believed that the time period of four months was far too short for her to go in depth. As such, by imparting to us the basic concept and requirements, we can do our own research and study outside of class curriculum time.

In addition to the business aspect, I managed to pick up a new programming language. I realized along the way that technology is constantly changing. If we do not update or keep up with the changing trends, we will be left out of the market. It is especially important for techno-entrepreneur because we are using technology as a platform in our business. Likewise, the best and available platform to market a new product or service is through the use of powerful social media. Professor Pamela took up the challenge of implementing the use of Facebook for her lessons despite having little knowledge of the mechanism. Her action showed us that the entrepreneur journey is indeed lifelong learning. In general, we should constantly update our skills to give competitive advantages over others both as an employer or employee.

Ideas are Cheap
Ideas are cheap and easy to duplicate. Professor Pamela mentioned that a lot over the 12 weeks of lessons. She also mentioned that the deciding factor for the successor of a business is the execution. I agree with her to a certain extent that ideas are cheap. In the course of our class, my team spent countless number of nights brain storming and re-evaluating our business idea. We quarrelled and we laughed about our ideas along the way. We made changes so often that if you missed a meeting session, you will probably lose track of what is happening. Therefore ideas can be cheap in replicating, however for a good one to come by it is costly and time consuming.

In the idea generation process, I came to realize that creative thinking do not perform well in large groups. Like many of my group mate, I prefer to have my private space for thinking before sounding out to the group during meeting. With this method, I can create some distance from the business and external influence to my thoughts.

Sustainable Passion
In my previous journal, I emphasize a lot about how passion can be the driving force of the business and how one should work for his passion. However in recent events, I came to realize just that following the passion alone is not enough. With the semester coming to an end for a final year student, I recognized that there are more to be considered. Repayments of bank loans, family financial, stable income are just some of other considerations. I feel heavily tied to this burden and it is my duty to fulfil those before self-interest. Jumping right into a start-up as the sole financial source would have undesirable outcomes. I’m not saying it is definitely wrong or blocking out that idea. I’m just identifying the possible negative outcomes that we should consider as well.

Comfort Zone
Getting out of the comfort zone is difficult and challenging for most. If you do not, you will be always be stuck at the same spot. If you do, the positive outcome would be that you succeed and the negative would be that you fail. Yet the value to failing is that you learn a valuable lesson that success will never teach you. That is determination, climbing back up again.

On top of just improving on our strength, we should be working on our weaknesses as well. That links back to the point about lifelong learning. My personal experience was working with statistics. Although I am good with numbers since Polytechnic, statistics was the breaking point in my “math career” in University. Despite the bad grade obtained during Year 1, I faced up the challenge of doing a geospatial analytics project dealing with regression model this semester. I felt that the learning experience in the project would provide me with valuable knowledge from future implementation in the start-up.

Similarly, do not be afraid of social validation and comfort. Most start-up violates the conventional ways of doing something that inspired others to follow. Thinking differently from the society can have positive outcomes as well.

Relationship between Working Partners
Another takeaway from the project was that business partners should be frank about everything. Transparency in the team is importance or else doubts will soon surface which in turn may cause certain unrest within the team. With that said, I personally believe that business is business and that environment should not get mixed in with friendship or personal feelings. I had my fair share of bad working partners in SMU. In my opinion, being frank about team dynamics or partnership problems will get things moving in the project.

MGMT 324 has given me the chance to performance and create a start-up with some of the least possible people in SMU. I am glad to have done the module with them and under the influence and guidance from an experience Professor, came to realizing a dream. The future is still gloomy for our little project but with enough time, I am sure we will make things happen.

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TE-2011/12Term2-Shannon Teo

by Shannon Teo

This TE course is different. Different from the other modules you'll do in SMU. Students are empowered to make a difference both in class and in their groups. What you got out of the class was proportional to the effort you put in.

What I learnt from this class is that when working in a group, your strong points are what matters. Your strong points are what you bring to an organization, your team mates are there to complement you and cover your weaknesses. Which then brings me to the next point. Finding great team members who complement you is crucial. Don't bother finding someone who is similar to yourself, who will agree with everything you say. What you want is someone who thinks differently and is not afraid to say it. The ones that have nothing to say or are too shy to say it are unfortunately not noticed in a group setting.

Another thing I learnt is that team morale is extremely important. The morale of the team could affect the productivity of the team and may even cause progress to falter. Our team went through a phase like this during the module when we were told that our business model was flawed. We had no idea how to improve it or move on from that point. Meetings were sluggish and we were indecisive. We eventually managed to pull through together as a team and figured it out. It wasn't pretty but we made it somehow.

I think SMU tries its best to emphasize teamwork and how important the team setting is in general, but this module is probably the champion of team required work and I'm glad I took this module to help my understanding of how great projects are churned from great teams and teamwork.

Nobody likes to do something he isn't interested or believes in. The last thing is that not only do you have to make your ideas heard, you have be able to persuade people and make them believe in your ideas too.


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TE-2011/12Term2-Tan Ying Da

by Tan Ying Da

For anyone out there:

One very important thing I’ve learnt throughout this course is: one should not hoard all his ideas to himself. I used to be one of those people who are reserved when it comes to sharing of business ideas. During this course, after hearing from prof saying that ideas are cheap, I started to have lots of occasions where I would just share my thoughts and ideas to friends at random times anywhere.

This proved to be very useful to validate ideas. Here’s what I’ve been through:

What I think is a new idea – there was an occasion when I thought I had a “fresh” idea after tons of researching on the internet, only to know that there is a start-up already doing it locally when I bumped into my friend in the library and chatted casually on my idea. The world is larger than it seems to be off the internet.

What I think is a great/cool idea – I once thought that having an adaptor to turn a smart phone into wireless mouse was a good idea because I felt I needed one. And I only realised that it was a not-so-smart idea on a smart phone, after issues on practicality were brought up to me by my peers. There are times when your brainchild tries to take over your mind when it is freshly conceived. If you don’t let it out, you are only living in your own fantasy.

What I think is a crazy/bad/stupid idea – there are also times when I would just sound out a random idea in front of my friends without giving it a serious thought, then shrug it off after realising it may sound stupid. But little did I expect that some of them actually buy in my idea helped me refine it to make it more feasible. Sounds crude, but beautiful and fragrant roses do grow out of cow dung and there’s always more dirt and stones to sieve through than diamonds.

I am one of the 7 billion people on this planet. What are the chances of me hitting on a brand new idea or creating an innovation that no one on earth has ever thought of before? At the end of this course, I realised that ideas don’t really matter that much for creating a successful business. It’s more about how you envision your business to be and the value it can bring to the people out there.

My personal reflection:

I had always wanted to know how my dad managed to start his own engineering company and keep it alive for more than 10 years despite its ups and downs. Because our relationship was never close, I never got to know much detail about his business at all. But I told myself one day, I’m going start my own company and do even better than him. Plus, I don’t always like to be told what to do and want to create my own business someday when I have the chance. And I thought this last semester is the last chance for me to learn something about starting up a business. If there’s a time for me to make mistakes without any huge repercussions, school should be the place.

I loved this course because I could shun those boring textbooks and listen to the stories what prof has to tell. For me, reading from a textbook could never be as engaging as listening to a person relating from his/her experiences. I also loved the practicality of what was being taught; if I were to get from point A to B, I would rather learn to drive than worry about how the car is being made.

Frankly speaking, I couldn't cope well this semester because of TE. To come up with a functional prototype with little technical people within such as small time frame was no joke. But because I strongly believed that our idea could push through, I put my heart and soul into it. I wanted to give our marketing wing something to sell more than just mere words. It was technically challenging for me; not all IS students are apt in website development (so don’t stereotype us please). But as a “tech” guy surrounded by the business students in the team, I felt I had to take up the challenge of learning web development for the sake of the team. For the first time in a course, I felt so much pressure and responsibility resting on my shoulders. I had to deliver something because I need to answer to the 7 other stakeholders in my team who trusted and believed in me. AdYourFace team did well at last, and all seems worth it to me. I want to thank the team for putting such faith in me. This is just the beginning.

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TE - 2011/12 Term2 - Akash Gurung

Different from the rest

Different from the rest

Follwing up with the Technological Entrepreneurship (TE) after TWC felt like an extension of my learning journey in the field of technology and entrepreneurship.

TE felt like a much needed crash course on learning about a start-up journey. What sucked me into this course most was the environment in which the course was conducted. It was realistic and competitive and brought out so much dedication from all the students that it was as though this was it - this was the real thing.

Creation of the business idea in the formative stage of the team was I would say a bit forced. However, in retrospect, the idea didnt really matter too much, it was the journey more so that made the whole experince exciting.

It was important in the beginning to also state the responsibilites of eaech team member, for that decided the work and deliverables for the work that was to come. For one2wed fortunately, the roles and responsibilites was pretty straightforward and the focus was on one product, the one2wed site.

Personally, I've always wanted to be involved in the creation of a business plan creation but I never had the opportunity. Creating the business plan for one2wed was in a way fulfilling of a personal desire to learn how to write a business plan. This was exciting.

In between the semester, we had a lot of presentations, pitches, refining of idea, working on feedback and so on. All this lead to a final delivery of product and team to the public during the guest seminar. I thought that was the real test.

All in all, TE was a fast paced course, time was of the essence and competition was high in the air. I would like to think it really gave us all a glimpse into the real start-up world. For any aspiring entrepreneur, I would highly reccomend this course as an excellent teaser into what lies ahead in the real world.

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MGMT324-T2-Adrian Teo

This course is a very robust course that gives students the liberty to exercise their creativity, initiative and innovative flair. I particularly liked the fact that the prof emphasizes a lot on action and not just mere penning of ideas. While I did learn a lot from her, I learnt the most from my peers who through blood and tears, have demonstrated very interesting ideas. It was enriching to see my peers develop their ideas from a mere black and white powerpoint slide deck to something they can put a monetary value to. Clearly, the entire journey was nothing short of insightful and inspiring. Thank you prof and my peers for this great journey, and I wish you the best.

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