Pairing business and technical skills for start-up success
February 15, 2012 by Start-Up@Singapore
On the evening of 27th January 2012, Start-up@Singapore (S@S), Singapore’s largest business plan competition, launched Ideas Meet Skills for the first time.
As a meeting point for individuals with either business ideas or technical expertise, Ideas Meet Skills played matchmaker to about 100 budding entrepreneurs from Singapore as well as countries like the United States and Dubai. Participants, aged 17 and above, also underwent an idea generation workshop by Ground-up Initiative (GUI), a non-governmental organisation based in Singapore.
Many people dream of working for themselves but lack the technical skills to do so.That is not to say that a person with an idea doesn’t have any skills. But with technology changing at such a fast rate, even entrepreneurs with technical knowledge may find their expertise lacking as the demand for specialisation increases.
In the internet/mobile industry today, these entrepreneurs often outsource product development to companies such as Odesk and Elance, which provide virtual marketplaces for freelancers and freelance agencies to negotiate work contracts. But doing so overlooks the importance of finding a strong technical co-founder, who could save the start-up a lot of money in product development as well as attract capital from smart investors.
Suppose a participant has an idea pertaining to healthcare IT – he might be a programmer looking for a co-founder in the healthcare industry, or vice versa. To help such entrepreneurs marry business skills with tech savvy, S@S organized this one-of-a-kind initiative to bring out both the technical and creative sides of entrepreneurship, by providing a meeting ground for technical experts and entrepreneurs.
Among the potential partnerships formed was that between Atif, a second-year student from NBS and Himanshu, a masters graduate from NTU. “I’m glad to have met Atif, knowing that he has an idea similar to mine. Now we need to think about how we can take [the idea] forward”, said Himbanshu.
Ground-up Initiative’s (GUI) co-founders (Veera, Ibnur and Huei Ming) gave participants a new perspective, discussing how crazy ideas could be turned into feasible ones using the Horizon Mission (HM) Methodology, a systematic technique developed within NASA to identify and evaluate highly innovative technology concepts.
Participants also learnt the importance of prototyping by sketching out crazy business ideas. Then, they put their creativity to the test at the action team challenge, where they were tasked to brainstorm for the ‘Next Big Thing Division of Amazon’ by drawing encouragement from the speakers’ presentations.
“I realized that there are different types of team dynamics. For example, there are cross-pollinators and idea generators. We will look into that and see how it can help our team”, said 17-year-old Benjamin from Raffles Institution who was seated alongside his peer, Ying Sheng. Both intend to compete in Start-Up@Singapore this year.
For the participants of Ideas Meet Skills, it was an evening of learning, networking and in some cases, partnership-making. But the main take-away of the night was perhaps an inspiration to turn ideas that seem crazy at first into ground-breaking products. As Ibnur delightfully puts it: “Just do it. Reach for the stars and you could land on the sky. Reach for the galaxies and you could land among the stars.”
About the 13th Start-up@Singapore
Launched in 1999 and now in its thirteenth year, S@S is a world-class business plan competition that aims to be the beacon for start-ups on their road to success. Since its inception, S@S has established itself as Singapore’s global business plan competition. It has attracted more than 2400 teams and 8000 participants, both locally as well as from countries such as Greece and Indonesia. In addition to this, S@S has also spawned more than 90 start-ups, including award-winning businesses like tenCube, FriarTuck, PerceptiveI, World Indigo, PurpleAce and Quantagen. Many of these start-ups have gone on to do extremely well in other national and international business plan competitions.
For more information on Ideas Meet Skills or Start-Up@Singapore, please visit www.startup.org.sg
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.