THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise Entrepreneurs Feature — TinyMOS
In this week’s Entrepreneurs Feature, we speak to Grey Tan, Co-founder and CEO of TinyMOS, the start-up behind Tiny1, the world’s smallest Astronomy Camera! Grey is a Communications and New Media graduate from NUS and a professional photographer who was inspired by astronomy imaging as an undergraduate. TinyMOS is currently incubating with THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise.
1. What is TinyMOS and how did the idea behind it come about?
TinyMOS was started to bring astronomy imaging to the masses. Existing astronomy equipment is too heavy, expensive and complex. We want to simplify that process with a camera that is small and easy to use. Using a small camera with auto-exposure for astronomy imaging and a star map to guide people in observing the night sky, we are bringing the astronomy experience to the man in the street.
The idea started when I was in NUS. I took a module in astronomy as an elective program and realised the difficulty in using existing astronomy equipment. I thought there must be a better way to do it. So I teamed up with my long time classmate Lih Wei and NUS Engineering classmate Ashprit to build the TINY1 camera, with the goal of making astronomy imaging accessible.
2. Describe your typical day.
We crowdfunded over 1000 cameras and are in the delivery phase. A typical day starts with supporting the backers who received their cameras via email and getting their feedback. After that, we check in with our manufacturing contacts for the schedule and estimates, to coordinate the shipment of backer rewards.
We are constantly meeting with suppliers and manufacturers to better our process and to expand the opportunities and applications of a low light astronomy camera.
3. How did TinyMOS build its customer base?
Before the crowdfunding campaign we engaged with astronomy forums and groups to get insights, feedback and to grow our mailing list. Because of the ground work, when news channels like ABC7 and Mashable gave us media coverage, we had a track record visible online. We aggregated a large number of people on our mailing list for the crowdfunding launch. Even now, we are scheduling reviewers to review our products.
4. What are some of the greatest challenges in the course of your entrepreneurial journey and what did you learn from them?
Manufacturing a complex camera product is the greatest challenge. There are many moving parts, from key component suppliers to electronic manufacturing facilities to assembly and packing. What I learned from the process is its difficulty and I acquired a new found appreciation for the items we use and take for granted everyday. It took a lot of innovation in technology, manufacturing and logistics to get the phones and computers we are using on a day to day basis.
5. What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Learning different aspects of a business at the front seat. I have taken a few part-time roles and internships in different organisations. There’s always a sense that we’re a cog in a wheel in a large organisation. In a start-up, everyone plays a very important role and what we do directly contributes to the success and failure to the company in a directly measurable way. I guess that is the best part about being an entrepreneur.
6. What line of work do you think you would be in if you weren’t an entrepreneur?
Photography and advertising — although probably still as an entrepreneur.
7. What are the benefits of being part of THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise?
The people we meet here are very interesting, from the mentors, to the fellow start-ups and the occasional visitors. We also get a pulse of the start-up scene in Singapore and we hang out with people who understand the challenges of being in a start-up in a very personal way. It’s by being in a community like this, we get support and help from each other.
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