By Isaac Souweine, GM for Pollenizer Southeast Asia. A version of this post first appeared on the Pollenizer blog.
I’ve met with dozens of folks over the past months who are interested in the Singapore startup scene. The questions they asked were often similar, so I thought I would take a crack at writing up my standard responses. For the record, this post is not meant to replace a good coffee chat, just to make those chats even more productive and interesting.
Q: How can I learn more about the scene from the internet?
A: There are three main blogs that cover the Singapore scene:
- e27 – Strong coverage across SEA plus tidbits from across Asia Pac. Highest volume of articles.
- Tech In Asia – Broad Asian perspective with good drill down on SEA and some good analysis.
- SGE.io- Lowest volume but strong on analysis and research pieces.
Jon Russell of the Next Web also weighs in semi-regularly on the SEA scene, and there are a few entrepreneurs and investors who blog semi-regularly:
This list is not exhaustive i.e. I’ve probably forgotten some other folks who share regularly. For online discussions, the JFDI Open Frog list is a good place to start. Read more
When I asked SGE Scout Albert Mai to compile a directory of coworking spaces in Sydney (he’s seeking internship opportunities there), he launched into the task with aplomb. Instead of merely giving me what I asked for, he went above and beyond, doing up a map covering the whole of Australia.
That’s dedication and effort. So, without further delay, I present you a handy guide to coworking spaces in Australia — 43 of them (also check out our map of Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). To be clear, a coworking spaces should possess these characteristics:
- A shared work environment with residents that don’t belong to the same organization.
- Social gatherings, shared values and synergies.
- Building of a community through interactions and events. Read more
Todd Kurie isn’t just an expert on digital marketing, he’s good at explaining it too. The online marketing veteran, who has traversed five startups (including Singapore’s RedMart.com) and corporations like eBay and American Express, gave five tips on how upstart companies should conduct their digital marketing efforts. Targeted at e-commerce outfits, Todd’s presentation was given at the Echelon Singapore Satellite event.
A startup’s main marketing challenge is to grow as fast as possible. The process of doing so can be broadly summarized as follows: learn as quickly and cheaply as possible about your customers, what they like or don’t about your service, the most effective ways to reach them, and customer acquisition costs. Once these questions are answered, then grow as fast as it makes sense. Read more
Entering a new market can be a daunting task. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore has launched a private edition of TechResources.US, a trusted, up-to-date online directory of over 1,500 US-based people, events, organisations and industry verticals in tech to help Singapore infocomm companies interested in the US market.
TechResources.US enables you to:
- Search specifically for tech investors, thought leaders, communities and conferences.
- Find US-based service providers including law, accounting and other localisation firms with experience in helping businesses establish themselves in the US market.
How to access TechResources: Request for a private access code by emailing email@example.com. You will receive info on the registration process and access
The notion of mentorship is an iffy one. Whether or not a mentor-mentee relationship can help your business hinges on whether advice-giver has the relevant skills and knowledge to give insight. But it’s not just about a head full of information: A mentor’s network can be invaluable, as well as an acute understanding of your business context and situation and the ability to give advice suited to your circumstances.
With that in mind, we consulted the experts at Ask ACE, a platform for startup-related questions, on precisely this conundrum, and here’s their advice:
Gareth Poh Walker, founder of Preston & Walker, a celebrity and speaker management firm and GA Walker, a funds and grants consultancy firm:
A mentor is a person with more experience in business, or simply in life, who can help an entrepreneur hone her or his abilities and advise him or her on navigating new challenges.
Before you go about finding a Mentor: Know what you want first.
Knowing your business goals helps the mentor better understand what value he adds to your mentoring relationship and how he can best advise you.
What can your mentor do for you? Determining what type of resource or skills you need is the next crucial step in the mentor hunt. For example, are you looking for someone who’s a good sounding board for ideas, well-connected or with expertise in a certain area such as sales, marketing or operations. After you determine the qualities you’re looking for in a mentor, narrow down the list to the most important three to five resource or skills that is applicable to you now.
The next step is to ‘informally interview a few candidates and check against your criteria to see if there’s a right fit to your current business needs. By having a combination of the qualitative and quantitative skills and resource attributes of each of your potential mentors, an ideal candidate will surface.
Finding a mentor: Know Where to Look
Below is a list as a general guide, it is not meant to be exhaustive but, it’s a start.
1) Start with family and friends – ask around for recommendations from family and friends to connect you to experienced business owners that can be potential mentors
2) Attend business networks – The next step is to expand your circle of contacts. While you are searching for a mentor, you can expand your network or even find a couple of clients along the way.
3) Complete strangers – Need more choices? Consider researching profiles of business owners in magazines, newspapers and the internet for someone who matches your criteria.Find out as much as you can about the potential mentor and try to contact them to work out a potential mentorship relationship.
Lim Song Joo, Founder & CEO at BWG Consulting Pte Ltd:
Let me share with you how I view the different persona of Mentors. Let’s call one group the Mentor-Coach: refers to a person/role that can guide you in your development. The relationship is possibly one that will work with you and chart your (company) development over a longer period of time. This mentor adopts a nurturing approach and is akin to a “guardian”. One who will be there to walk the journey and a shoulder to lean on.
The other type, I’ll call it the Mentor-Expert: refers to a person/role that has very specific skills or strengths that you need to help you overcome a problem or difficult situation. This person has the depth of experience and wherewithal to guide you towards a solution. He or she possesses relevant credentials in their professional background and adopts a more quantitative approach towards mentoring.
There is no clear distinction between the 2. Generally, mentors are capable and qualified to provide the necessary support, it just depends on which persona type they lean towards.
When looking for a Mentor, ask yourself what your issues are and look within yourself which style of mentoring suits you (your company) better. If you are facing a technical dilemma, you would seek help from a mentor that has the right technical background, or a Subject Matter Expert (SMEs) to start with. If you are looking for ground up support, then someone who has been there in a similar capacity will be a good guiding hand to support you.
Once you are clear what your needs are, then you can look around for mentoring help. You can start with your inner circle of network, then expanding out to associations, Alumni, or explore specific help group run by government agencies like IE Singapore, SPRING, or ACE, etc. You may also contact the ACE Secretariat if you need any help on securing mentors.
Jeffrey Paine, co-founder of Golden Gate Ventures and Founder Institute Singapore:
First, figure out what skill gap you are lacking and the type of mentor you are seeking. Do a lot of primary research online to find the potential mentors. Hustle to try to meet them, cold email do work. Be humble and respectful of their time.
The site goes, “‘I have read and agree to the Terms’ is the biggest lie on the web. We aim to fix that.” Read more
By Huifen Zheng, legal counsel. All views expressed here are strictly in her personal capacity.
A company’s confidential information forms part of its assets. Such information includes the client base, corporate setup, and most importantly — ideas.
Most startups begin with one bright spark of an idea that the team works to translate to a viable business model. But there is nothing to stop key employees or co-founders from jumping ship and trying to take confidential information with them to a new setup.
How can such ideas be protected?
Resorting to legal action is never cost effective and most startups simply lack the cash to pay lawyers’ fees. Here are sensible ways for managing the flow of confidential information within the company. I’ll also briefly discuss intellectual property protection at the end. Read more
“Should I work on my pet project full-time?” For many, making the leap can be terrifying. On Ask ACE, a Q&A platform on entrepreneurship, we get plenty questions relating to the initial phases of starting up, and how to go about it. Here’s a multi-part question along with a number of insightful responses addressing different angles:
I’m a software engineer currently bootstrapping a software project (opentraits.com). I’m the sole founder and owner. Not that I wanted this, but the project simply evolved from other projects and I started coding it passionately. Two months later the project has a demo and the feedback is positive. Technically, things are brilliant, but there’s little time left to spend on the business side. I can’t afford the staff yet.
I have a few questions:
What do you think is the best move for me? Should I go looking for people willing to join the startup for equity? Where do I start looking for people on the business side and how do I evaluate them (considering I’m experienced mostly on the technical side)? How should I negotiate?
Or should I go directly for Angel Investments and hire staff? Is it true that most Angel Investors will not consider startups with sole founders? What is the startup size when this changes? Is it common to find Angel Investors that will both invest money and work at least part time on a startup? How can I find these people?
SPRING Singapore, a government agency that promotes local enterprises, has come up with a Budget Flyer on the 2013 measures for SMEs. It provides a snapshot of the Budget measures across all the government agencies that impact SMEs, as well as various SPRING program that SMEs and startups can tap on. It also contains important contact details of EnterpriseOne, EDCs, government agencies and other useful resources.
Guide to 2013 Budget Measures for SMEs
by Andrew Chow, social media strategist
For entrepreneurs using social media for customer engagement, a response strategy map is a system of responses drawn up collectively by the entire organisation to dictate engagement with their target audience on social media.
Broadly speaking, a response strategy focuses on the responses to any comments made by the public. It is an action map created so that everyone in the taskforce knows what to do, how to respond, who to activate during a crisis, and how to close the conversation loop. It can be used for managing public relations and should be refined after every major media crisis.
Every company will have its individual response to inputs from users in the social media space. The template provided in this article can only serve as a guideline for your corporate response strategy. Read more