For our monthly Kopi Chat in August, NUS Enterprise was privileged to have Mr. Teo Ser Luck, chairman of Nufin Data come down to BLOCK71 to share his entrepreneur journey as well as give some insights on the start-up scene in Singapore. Moderating the Kopi Chat for this session was Janson Seah, the co-founder of StaffAny.
About Mr. Teo Ser Luck
Mr. Teo Ser Luck is an entrepreneur and Member of Parliament of Singapore, formerly Minister of State for Manpower. Mr. Teo spent 15 years in the private sector before joining politics for 11 years.
About Janson Seah
Janson was an Analyst in an early-stage Silicon Valley VC in 2017, and has recently returned back to Singapore to co-found a stealth startup in the HR-Tech space.
Key Takeaways from Kopi Chat with Mr. Teo Ser Luck
1. Advice for Entrepreneurs
- Watch your cash flow. It is good to be optimistic but also be realistic.
- Consider the motivations behind being your own boss. Is it for wealth, ego, freedom, or the passion for your product?
- The product may fulfil many social objectives, but commercial viability will make it sustainable.
- Don’t neglect big markets. You need to network and get to know people.
- Learn to face rejection.
2. What qualities are needed for a successful start-up?
- Skillsets must be complementary and in balance. An entire team of finance experts would have a detailed but boring pitch.
- Good team chemistry. Resolving conflicts will be smooth and amicable.
- Good product that is viable. This would ensure that the start-up lasts long and succeeds in the market.
- Other factors such as competition, landscape, and environment are external.
3. How can social enterprise start-ups contribute to Singapore alongside the government?
- Make sure product is commercially viable first before becoming a social enterprise. Build a social enterprise like a commercial enterprise to build returns that keeps it sustainable.
- E.g. Xin Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh is a social enterprise that hires inmates. They improved on their product and developed it into something commercially viable. Their Bak Kut Teh’s standard is comparable to commercial outlets which allows them to become sustainable even as a social enterprise.
4. What is the enterprise ecosystem in Singapore like?
- Issue with culture of embracing failure even though ecosystem and infrastructure is well-established.
- Unlike Silicon Valley which embraces failure as a step towards progress, Singaporean culture is less accepting of failure and there is a stigma against the idea of creating a start-up, especially from parents. There is social pressure from family to simply take up a job with a stable income rather than a risky career of founding a start-up.
Watch the full video of August’s Kopi Chat featuring Teo Ser Luck here:
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