Given what has transpired in the past week news and commentaries not about The Man are hard to come by in Singapore, so here’s a collection of six articles from the “Wicked Wednesday” events at N-House:
Underlying the success of NUS-based startup Novelsys – which hit its $60,000 Kickstarter target in less than 24 hours – is years of hard work, innovation and trust. In an environment of the “Internet of Things” which has facilitated a proliferation of startups premised upon software and mobile applications, Novelsys’s focus on hardware stands out. And Ampere, a smart wireless charging phone sleeve, is the company’s first product.
The government’s endeavours have paid dividends. And the Israeli startup system has rarely looked back, with Mr. Avner and Mr. Shamir raising many examples of serial Israeli entrepreneurs. Besides exits or mergers and acquisitions – the traditional yardsticks for the success of a startup – in 2014 companies such as Wix, MobilEye, and CyberArk went public. He also spoke of Naftali Bennett, former co-founder of network security software company Cyota, which was sold in 2005 for US$145 (S$195) million, who is now Minister of Economy.
One of the more interesting points was on the lack of a maker or garage culture in the country, partly attributed to the proliferation of high-rise apartments (the lack of space, essentially). Of course the apprentice programmes in Japan and Germany were mentioned, and there was the subsequent observation that “Design and Technology” modules are not as ubiquitous here. My dad is the ultimate handyman, yet I have never learnt to handle tools – in school or at home – and cannot do basic maintenance around the house.
Hosted a session on Wednesday with social enterprises Adrenalin Group and Society Staples (the former is slightly more established, while the latter we invited for the UNASMUN Preparatory Conference last year), talking about the opportunities and challenges for such companies in Singapore. Thought the conversation was interesting. The lack of a consensus on definitions of a social enterprise remained a concern, but the representatives gave good, first-hand insights on hurdles they faced, and the pragmatism displayed was refreshing.
It was an exciting evening as our invited guest speakers – split into two teams of two – clashed on product theory and design. Unlike the usual talk or panel discussion for N-House’s “Wicked Wednesday” events, a crowd of 25 gathered at Venture Lab to hear opposing perspectives on “crowdmoney versus venture capital”, “value-adding versus just another photo-sharing application”, and “sharing economy versus traditional systems”.
Both Shamir and Ze Yan had slight disagreements after their presentations, yet they concurred that startups need to understand the varied preferences of different venture capitalists and investors. Some placed greater emphasis on the marketplace for instance, and others on the financial projections. Even the approaches or modes of correspondence differ, from emails to decks to chats or conversations. In other words – as it is with building a business – responding and adapting to circumstances are crucial for survival and growth.