Did you know that before JTC’s Launchpad@One-North where Blk 71 is nestled in, came into fruition, this Ayer Rajah Crescent neighbourhood was one of the earliest industrial estate that was built in the 1970s and home to the early pioneers of the tech industry such as Creative Technology? And did you know that Ayer Rajah actually means “King’s River” in Malay?
Here are 7 interesting facts about Blk 71 and how it came to be home to one of the largest start-up enclaves in Singapore!
- Blk 71 is home to Singapore’s first startup ecosystem under one roof and is the largest to-date.
The Ayer Rajah Industrial Estate was one of the first industrial estates developed near town centers to cut down travelling time between home and work. Today, Blk 71 is housed within the Launchpad@One-North, where it prides itself as the biggest, and the first startup ecosystem in Singapore. Blk 71 is also renowned far beyond Singapore, and its name was even mentioned by former- US President Barrack Obama in a speech on US-Singapore bilateral relations.
“We see our friendships in the collaborations between our innovators and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to Singapore’s Blk 71,” Former-US President Barack Obama
2. JFDI was Singapore’s first boot camp model accelerator, and was housed right here!
In January 2012, JFDI was Singapore’s first 100-day accelerator programme brought in by our partner, Singtel Innov8. It was based on Techstar’s boot camp. The accelerator programme consisted of 11 teams, with more than 50 mentors, and led to S$4.2mil of follow-up funding. One of the success stories was Flocation; which was acquired by Japan’s Venture Republic Group in 2015.
3. Travelmob was the 1st Success story of Blk 71.
Initially the Managing Director of Skype Asia-Pacific, Turochas “T” Fuad left to found Travelmob at Blk 71, #03–18B. By July 2013, Travelmob was acquired by HomeAway, which was in turn acquired by Expedia.
Travelmob office at BLOCK71, #03–18B — Notice the Pineapple, a symbol of wealth.
4. Creative Technology was located here.
Creative Technology, one of the most famous start-ups in the early days, had their origins here. Creative was the No. 1 sound card maker in the world in the 1980s and was listed on NASDAQ in 1992.
5. In 2010, Blk 71 was almost demolished.
By 2010, the building in this vicinity was old and rundown. The original plan was to demolish the area to make way for new buildings. Blk 71 was ‘saved’ by an experiment to create Singapore’s first startup ecosystem. Demolition of neighboring Blk 73 had already commenced — But due to the success of Blk 71, Blk 73 was resurrected in 2014.
6. Plug-in@Blk71, established September 2011, was Singapore’s 1st co-working space for startups.
The experiment mentioned on pointer 6 which ‘saved’ Blk 71 was one to build Singapore’s first startup ecosystem — Which was supplemented by the 1st startup co-working space, Plug-in@Blk71. Today, it is no longer called Plug-in@Blk71 but instead, BLOCK71 Singapore. This is also a move made for our counterparts BLOCK71 Jakarta and BLOCK71 San Francisco.
7. First Startup Weekend was held here in October 2011.
Originating from Techstars, this 54-hour programme was where digital developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch start-ups. In total, there was a whooping number of 270 participants, 120 ideas pitched and 30 prototypes presented. Since then, a number of similar programmes emerged in the community; At its peak, there was one every month.
Do you have anymore interesting information to share about Blk 71 and its neighbours’ history? Share in the comments section below!
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