Wetting SIM YEN's Appetite for Entrepreneurship

Wetting SIM YEN’s Appetite for Entrepreneurship

“Tonight, we want to wet your appetite for entrepreneurship.”

And, that was how we started our little sharing session with the Singapore Institute of Management Young Entrepreneur Network’s (YEN) Lean Startup Seminar.

Team Quickienomics is always excited to share their experience with SIM undergraduates with the objective of helping them get started with entrepreneurship and have something to call their own. As graduates from SIM, we are incredibly grateful to SIM YEN for giving us this opportunity to speak. We would like to personally extend our thanks to Yan Hwai Yhan, Willie Lim, and the rest of the SIM YEN executive committee for doing an awesome job on organising and marketing the event. (You guys rock!)

3 of the common questions SIM students, including us in the past, have in mind are:

  • Where do we get the money to start a business?
  • What should I expect when I become an entrepreneur?
  • Where should I start to bring my ideas to life?

As with many curious people, we read books and attended seminars in search for answers. However, we realized that most of these good materials were about managing a business and not starting business, which are two totally different ball games. When we encountered the lean startup methodology, the way we did things changed dramatically.

To offer students with a better perspective of what entrepreneurs do, we shared with them the key difference between a company and a startup. A company is business organization that sells products and/or services in exchange for monetary value. Adapted from Steve Blank’s book, the startup owner’s manual, a startup is a temporary organization that is searching for a business model, which is scalable and repeatable. A company executes a working business model; a startup searches for one.

We then discussed the constraints entrepreneurs typically face – a lack of time and money. Failure to an entrepreneur would then mean running out of cash to sustain the search for a workable business models. With that, students need a search technique that is fast and least expensive. That was where we introduced the lean canvas, a one-page business plan, which was significantly more time efficient in the starting up phase than writing a full 20-page traditional business plan.

It was shared with the students that the customers and problems boxes of the lean canvas are the boxes to be filled first because the key goal of an entrepreneur is to bring value to society by solving existing problems people cannot solve today. Students were also shown an example of the lean canvas in action when Team Quickienomics shared their plans to build an Ecommerce marketplace selling sportswear that promised the perfect fit delivered within 3 days.

Team Quickienomics also shared with the audience what they felt was the most important task a startup had to do – interviewing potential customers and validating that the assumed problems that they face are really true and cannot be solved by any existing means. Jerry pointed out the importance of using face-to-face interviews instead of online surveys and questionnaires. It was critical to the founders that they create an environment of open communication so that prospects can help identify the pain levels of identified problems. The founders also tend to discover other pet peeves that customers might face in a face-to-face interview. Besides observing their body language and measuring what customers do by asking them how they solve their existing problems, these interviews were also a good avenue to be referred to other potential customers as well.

Jerry then introduced the concept of the minimum viable product (MVP). He explained its purpose of achieving the most amount of validated or experiential learning with the least amount of effort. He also used Team Quickienomics’ sportswear marketplace MVP as an example so that the students could see the MVP concept in action.

The sharing session was then wrapped up by Gerald with 3 summarized learning points:

  1. Entrepreneurship is about learning through experiments
  2. Entrepreneurship is the most difficult way to make money but it is also the most rewarding
  3. Entrepreneurship is about grit – the ability to delay gratification

Before proceeding to a highly engaging and fun-filled Q&A session, Gerald concluded the presentation with:

“If you want to make a difference in people’s lives, be an entrepreneur. That’s because the one thing that keeps entrepreneurs going day after day after day is their contribute to making the world a better place. And, that’s the difference that makes a difference.”

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