Thursday, March 19, 2015

Learning About Entrepreneurship at WalkaboutSG 2014


Entrepreneurship is gaining ground in Singapore with people wanting to be the new Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg with their own startup. Some people want to revolutionise the way we do things and some just want to find an effective solution to solve a problem. As entrepreneurship becomes more popular, WalkaboutSG aims to spread the word about entrepreneurship to the public through startup open houses. I visited WalkaboutSG and I want to share with you my time during the event and why I found it interesting.

What is WalkaboutSG?


WalkaboutSG, which took place on the 13th of June 2014, is an open house which aims to showcase the different startups here in Singapore. Startups, especially those in Block 71 Ayer Rajah Crescent, a building filled with startups from the top to the bottom, opened their doors to the public to educate them about what they do and how they contribute to the society. With government grants enabling Singaporeans to set up their own startups, it's no wonder entrepreneurship is getting more popular.

Apart from Block 71, some startups in Singapore's CBD also opened their doors to the public including big name corporations like Twitter and Microsoft. There were also some buses bringing visitors from Block 71 to the Central Business District. WalkaboutSG is a great way for those who aspire to be entrepreneurs and it's also great opportunity for startups to expose themselves to the public.

First Stop: JFDI Asia


I came here as part of a school excursion so transport was no problem as there was a bus that brought me to Block 71 Ayer Rajah Crescent. Members of the public could ride the Circle Line MRT to One North MRT Station and it's just a 5 minute walk. The first startup that I went to was not really a startup, but more of an incubator that provides funding and mentorship to entrepreneurs.

JFDI Asia was also the location for the official "opening ceremony" of WalkaboutSG with a representative from WalkaboutSG officiating the event encouraging us to visit the various startups around Block 71 and in Singapore's CBD. Buffet-style food were also served to us as well which was an awesome bonus.

Visiting the Pioneer of Mobile Video Editing: Muvee


After the short visit to JFDI Asia, I visited Muvee, a Singaporean startup that essentially is the pioneer for mobile video editing and they made video editing software those old Nokia phones. Remember when you could actually select whatever videos you had on your phone and turn them into interesting videos by just clicking a few buttons? They're the ones who made that.


The founder of Muvee brought us into this meeting room and told us how his story behind Muvee. It was inspirational and insightful considering that Muvee started way long ago. He was fun, friendly and casual-looking and demoed to us some interesting mobile video editing apps that was going to be available on Android tablets. The office overall looked nice and there was even a lounge with a foosball table which makes the working environment a lot more fun.

Taking A Look At Silicon Stratis


At the same level as Muvee, I came across Silicon Straits, an "innovation tribe" where they provide a platform for emerging startups, build companies and provide a space for communities to come together to discuss ideas and collaborate with each other.



The office at Silicon Straits definitely looked very spacious with lots of hardworking people busy working on their computers and laptops. I took a look at a beautifully decorated wall which consists of photo frames of the various startups they currently support as well as the startups who have set up shop in the Silicon Straits office as well. The environment was quiet and it was definitely a conducive place to work and make your ideas into a reality.

Up Next: Moneysmart.sg


After taking a look at Silicon Straits and Muvee, I head upstairs to Moneysmart.sg. Moneysmart.sg is a media website where the share articles, tips and tricks about anything and everything related to finance. They also have tools which lets you compare the various credit cards in Singapore and the various loans and insurances which you can find in Singapore as well.

Moneysmart.sg is a great website if you want to improve your financial situation especially since most financial websites are US-centric which in some cases may not really apply to Singaporean readers. The office was actually quite spacious and they had this rule where if you don't remove your shoes when you enter the office, you'll be fined $1 which was quite funny.

Video Game Development at the Games Solution Centre


At Level 4 of Block 71, there was the Games Solution Centre or GSC for short perfect for video game lovers and gamers alike. The GSC was set up in collaboration with the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) where small and medium gaming companies can come here to develop and prototype video games and games of all sorts of formats.


There was a small cozy lounge which visitors can relax and play the video games that are developed by the companies from GSC and there were also some regular Playstation games and Xbox games which visitors could play with as well. Personally, I'm not a gaming person myself but the GSC was a really interesting place to find out more Singapore's gaming entrepreneurs especially since gaming is quite a popular hobby among Singapore's youth.

Visiting Angels At The Angels Gate Advisory


Up next was Angels Gate Advisory. Angels Gate actually started off as a local reality TV show where potential local and regional entrepreneurs pitch their startups in front of a group of local and regional multimillionaires who they themselves are successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople. It was shown on Singapore's ChannelNewsAsia and the show's format was based on the hit reality TV show, Shark Tank.


Now, Angels Gate Advisory (with the same logo as the TV show) is a place where entrepreneurs can get some mentorship and expert advice on how to grow and make their startups into a successful one. They even provide funding as well. I came across a startup under the Angels Gate Advisory called JOIE which is basically an app that lets students find part time jobs and get rewarded with small goodies at the same time once they have completed a particular part time job. There are many more startups under Angels Gate Advisory and JOIE is one interesting example.

Checking Out Plug In@Blk71


Another place that I visited within Block 71 was this place called PlugIn@Blk 71. It's an initiative created by the enterprise division of the National University of Singapore (NUS) called NUS Enterprise and basically what they do is that they provide coworking spaces, spacious meeting rooms and events/talks for entrepreneurs who wish to start their own startups.


There are plenty of startups who have already registered with Plug In@Blk71 to use their facilities and anyone who's interested in using their facilities like their coworking spaces and what not, are free to sign up with them. They also provide plenty of services useful for entrepreneurs like legal clinics and accounting clinics to help them sort out their legal and accounting paperwork.


Sometimes, they invite external parties over to talk under their Kopi Chat speaker series. During WalkaboutSG, PlugIn@Blk71 had a Teh Tarik (pulled milk tea) Uncle make some delicious hot tea and coffee similar to those that you could find in Singapore's coffeeshops. Plenty of startups are under PlugIn@Blk71 and NUS Enterprise including Carousell, a mobile app that lets you buy and sell items.

Gilcrux Holdings And TravelMob


On the first level of the Block 71 building, I visited two offices, one is an investment holding company called Gilcrux Holdings while the other was a travel-based startup called TravelMob. Gilcrux Holdings invests in various local and regional companies like renovation contractor site Kluje.com, cloud backup site DropMySite and much more.


Although the office was quite small, there was a friendly representative who talked to a small group of us explaining what Gilcrux Holdings is about and what they do. He also handed to us a small goodie bag filled with goodies featuring the logos of the various companies they have invested in. Quite a great idea actually.


I then went next door to TravelMob to learn more about what they do. Despite the crowded market of travel websites out there like Expedia, Asiatravel and Trivago, TravelMob is slightly different and unique because it's similar to a social networking site but about travelling instead. Plus, you can rent a place that you like, communicate with the host of the place that you're eyeing for and leave a review when you're satisfied with the place. It's an interesting and novel idea and it's especially useful if you're a frequent traveller.

Visiting Social Enterprises at HubSG


Last but not least, I visited HubSG. Similar to PlugIn@Blk71, HubSG is also a co-working space where the spaces can be used by any startup who have registered under HubSG and there were various facilities that entrepreneurs can make use of at the space. They also host events and talks occasionally to inspire and enrich the entrepreneurs that are working there as well.


However, unlike PlugIn@Blk71, HubSG only brings in social enterprises where entrepreneurs support social missions and earn money at the same time. HubSG embraces an open concept working space like PlugIn@Blk71 which further enables various social enterprises to embrace collaboration as well. Unlike the other startups that I have visited, HubSG is not located at Block 71 Ayer Rajah Crescent.


Instead, it's located at the Natonal Youth Council Academy building along Somerset Road right opposite *SCAPE shopping mall and Cathay Cineleisure. Also, HubSG provides open house tours every Wednesday at 11am and Friday at 4pm for interested visitors to find out more about them. The HubSG environment looks like a great place to work at especially since the first level incorporates an artisan cafe serving high quality artisan coffee. A full article about HubSG will be done at a later date.

Conclusion

Although there are many startups I would like to check out like Carousell at Block 71 along with the tech giants like the Twitter and Microsoft Singapore offices in the CBD, I have learnt a lot about the entrepreneurs and startups that have set up their offices at Block 71. Entrepreneurship is gaining traction in Singapore and with plenty of funding provided by the government to support startups, it's no wonder more Singaporeans are jumping into the entrepreneurship bandwagon.

WalkaboutSG is a great initiative to spread the word about the world of entrepreneurship to Singaporeans. I'm not entirely sure if there is going to be a 2015 version of WalkaboutSG since the Facebook page was last updated in mid-2014 but I do hope there is going to be another edition of the event as it was definitely very enriching and inspirational learning about the different startups here. If you are thinking of starting your own startup, there's never a better time to start than now.

More Information

WalkaboutSG: http://walkabout.sg/

JFDI Asia: http://www.jfdi.asia/

Muvee: http://www.muvee.com/home/

Silicon Straits: http://www.siliconstraits.com/

Moneysmart.sg: http://www.moneysmart.sg/

Games Solution Centre: http://gsc.sg/

PlugIn@Blk71: http://www2.blk71.com/

Gilcrux Holdings Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GilcruxHoldings

TravelMob: http://sg.travelmob.com/
 
HubSG: http://singapore.impacthub.net/

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