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Experience in Noc Beijing

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Content of Report:

(a)  Tasks Accomplished

Briefly describe the activities being undertaken during the programme.

(b)  Experience/Knowledge/Skills Gained

Describe the experience/knowledge/skills you have gained during this period.  Discuss how this programme will impact your future decision to pursue a career outside of Singapore.

(c)  Issues Encountered and Proposed Solutions

Describe any issues you encountered during the programme and the proposed solutions to overcome them. Discuss how you adapted to the environment in the country of immersion.

  1. Summary of Observations on Overall Experience

Please share your observations and thoughts about the country, e.g. the economic and social situation or the lifestyle and culture. Please feel free to cite anecdotes or specific examples.

Highlight the key learning points Singapore and its companies can adopt from the country of immersion.

  1. Other Issues/ Conclusion

Please feel free to share any other learnings, and how this overseas programme has shaped your view towards having a global career in future.

During this 10months programme in Beijing, I took part in many entrepreneurial activities ranging from networking sessions to competitions. In this report, I like to highlight four events that had major influence to the way I think and the perspective I have of things happening around me, especially as an entrepreneur.

Three activities that had a great influence on me:

  • Casual Dinner with Co-Founder and CEO of Carousell
  • DoraHacks FinTech Hackathon
  • Internship at Daimler IT Innovation Lab

Casual Dinner with Carousell Co-Founder and CEO Quek Sui Rui

Being a part of the Young Entrepreneur Association of NUS (YEAN), as the vice president, we managed to connect and arranged a dinner with CEO and Co-founder of Carousell, Quek Siu Rui. He was an NOC alumni, who went to Silicon Valley for his NOC. During the dinner, he was very willing to share on how he built his startup, Carousell, after he came back from his NOC stint.

I felt that the insights that he shared was eye-opening and inspirational. Also, I felt it was very timely that we had this dinner very early in our NOC stint, as he managed to answer some of the doubts that I had of myself when I embarked on this 10 months journey to Beijing. With that he strengthened my motivation to push myself harder during this 10months to maximise my exposure during this journey.

When I signed up for NOC Beijing and before I had the chance to meet Sui Rui, I only knew that I wanted to start something on my own and I wanted to do something that can  hopefully improve Singapore in some ways. I had only a very vague idea of the direction that I wanted to head towards in the future but I have no clear direction for myself. It was not because I don't plan for my future, but it was because I didn't know how to go about doing it, there was no guide or mentor that I can follow or listen to for advise. Among all the unknowns, I only knew NOC may possibly give me the answers to all or some of my doubts. I felt that I needed to come up with a plan before I can start on anything that I want to do, I need to have the end in mind. But for the career that I want to have, I cant foresee the end or the list of steps that I am going to take to reach my goal, which makes me fearful that I may not just be cut out to be an entrepreneur.

However, with what Siu Rui shared during the dinner, I was enlightened.

  • If you have an idea, work on it. There is no perfect idea, there will always be problems along the way.

As mentioned earlier, I used to think that I have to be very well-prepared before I start on anything, to come up with the most detailed business plan that I can think of, spotting out every problem that I may face when I begin to work on my idea. However, after hearing this phrase from him, I realised that I have been spending most of my time planning and I have been stuck at that stage ever since. I have yet to execute on my idea as I fear that I am not prepared enough. However, there is no way one can ever be fully prepared for anything, I will never feel that I am prepared enough. The tip is to do the fundamental research and preparation to kick-off the idea and work on the idea as I go on. For himself, he mentioned that he was bootstrapping for the initial years of his startup life when he was working on Carousell, they did not have investors and they were very tight on budget, but this didn't stopped them from working on their idea. After listening, I come to realise that I should be striving for improvement and not perfection. Work on any problem that comes along, do not fear to take the first step to start executing my idea.

It is always good to have a plan to execute, but we need to remain flexible and be able to adjust accordingly as the situation changes. Also, it is very likely that the plan will change along the way, so there is no point getting stuck at the initial planning phase for the longest time and be worried about the far future even before making the first step forward.

  • If you believe in it, persevere and carry on.

Not everyone that you meet will see the same potential as you do about your idea. It is important be really believe on your own idea and stick to it. Sui Rui mentioned that when he first pitched Carousell to NUS Enterprise, his idea was negatively received and was not given any support. His business model was the first of its kind in Singapore and a major problem that the mentors raised was the lack of a revenue model in the short-term. Carousell was not able to reap in any revenue from the peer to peer deals made through its platform. This was a determining factor for the mentors to not support his idea, as they thought that this idea will not last and more importantly make money. However, even after hearing all the negative feedbacks, they did not back down but continue to work on their idea and launch out their beta version. Now, they have become one of the most successful startup case in Singapore with millions of investments funds.

Also, it is very important that I believe in my own idea. If I cant convince myself that the idea is the next big thing, how am I supposed to persuade others to join me or anyone to buy my idea.

DoraHacks FinTech Hackathon

In January 2017, my NOC mate shared with me an idea that he thought had the potential to disrupt the insurance industry in Singapore or even the other parts of South East Asia. I was convinced and interested in co-founding with him. We began our initial research of the idea to validate the potential of the market, the probability of us becoming the next unicorn startup. After some research and discussion, we signed up for DoraHacks, a FinTech Hackathon, in Beijing. We wanted to put our idea to the test and gather some feedback. This was my first hackathon experience and we were just a pair of undergraduates with an idea, with no experience nor background.



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