The Path to Success for Youth Entrepreneurs in Singapore

Nov 12, 2019   |   Jeremy Philemon

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A shot of Singapore by Lily Banse

In Singapore, the path to success is often laid out in a step-by-step manner as dictated by our education system. Like a virtual game, a character has to succeed constantly to progress to the next level. If failure is met, then options become limited.

The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it thrives on failures – it is part and parcel of the route to success. One may easily assume that an entrepreneur packs up and leaves a start-up to work for someone else after facing failure. That is not the mind-set of a true entrepreneur.

In Singapore’s Asian culture, which is charged with the constant race to succeed, speculation can be made that the youth are afraid to make risky decisions or take the first step towards building their dream start-up company.

This may not be the case with today’s generation. According to website-hosting company GoDaddy, three-quarters of millennials in Singapore intend to become entrepreneurs in the next 10 years.

At a fireside chat with undergraduates at Singapore University of Social Sciences on 4 September 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong dispelled stigma or shame attached to failure encountered by entrepreneurs. Instead of advising youths to keep at projects that are not working, he urged youths to work hard but recognise when something is not working, when to drop it and start something else.

PM Lee revealed that when he interviewed candidates to be part of his party and noticed failed businesses attached to resumes, he would be intrigued to know why. The candidate would explain that they were committed and believed in their business ideas, but couldn’t help that it didn’t work. He would still take them in.

“I do not expect to see somebody sail in and say ‘I started 10 companies and all of them became unicorns’. Life is not like that,” said PM Lee.

Singapore has catered to the many rising needs of entrepreneurs in Singapore. Banks and governmental schemes offer start-up loans. Many co-working spaces have popped up all over the island, made affordable for entrepreneurs and small businesses. There are also a number of entrepreneurship clubs and networks that provide support for entrepreneurs, from IHLs to independent agencies.

One such network that entrepreneurs have been tapping on is Heartware Network – Youth Business Singapore (YBS). YBS provides the entrepreneurs in their network with strategic business mentors to guide the entrepreneurs in their start-up journey, they also provide loans at an affordable rate, along with networking opportunities at a local and regional level.

Out of the many entrepreneurs who have joined YBS, one of them is a Mr Woo Sze Ming.

In 2010, Woo Sze Ming graduated from the Singapore Management University with a degree in Business Management. He could have easily settled for a high-paying job, but he chose to traverse a different path instead and started a business.

Gamurai is venturing into the Chinese market.

Fuelled by the passion of wanting to make an impact in Singapore’s 3D industry, he founded Gamurai Pte Ltd, a photo realistic, 3D virtual try-on service to allow users to create personalized 3D avatars effortlessly. Without support from friends and family, Sze Ming started the business even when others did not believe in his goals. When asked if he planned to do this for the rest of his life, he replied “Yes!” without hesitation.

Encouraged by his strong spirit of enterprise and the promising viability of his business venture, YBS decided to support Sze Ming and his business. His company received an interest-free loan of SGD$10,000.

Woo Sze Ming with fellow YBS entrepreneurs during their exchange programme to Fujian, China in 2015.

In line with YBS’ structured and holistic approach towards enterprise development, Sze Ming was also attached to business mentor Mr Goh Yong Seng, Managing Director of MPayment Pte Ltd. Sze Ming also had a chance to be part of a 2-week YBS-YBC (Fujian) Entrepreneurs Exchange Programme.

Mr Goh’s advice and engagement with Sze Ming was certainly invaluable. Mr Goh provided great insight on what to look out for when he was planning to make important decisions for his business. Mr Goh also shared with Sze Ming challenges that he had faced as an entrepreneur in the past. This gave Sze Ming greater clarity on how he wanted to bring the company forward.

“YBS has provided a great Mentor, Mr Goh Yong Seng, to us and we have benefited much from his experience and advice. As youth entrepreneurs with no track record to prove ourselves, we may not know a lot of things. But we are prepared to learn, and do whatever it takes to make things happen.”

Now Gamurai works closely with research institutes, industry partners, governmental bodies and world class investors to help change and make a difference to the industry. Their product, Veon@Experience, is a software tool that empowers hair salons in their daily operations as a cloud-based business administrative tool.

Woo Sze Ming founder of Gamurai Pte Ltd at the Smart China Expo Cup 2019. Photo courtesy of: Smart China Expo 2019

Recently, Veon@Experience won the third prize under the overseas group category of ‘Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition on Big Data and Smart Technology’ at the Smart China Expo Cup 2019 that was held at Chongqing, China on 30th July, 2019.

Furthermore, Sze Ming also represented Singapore as a young entrepreneur speaker for the 4th ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Carnival 2019 held in Thailand.

The route Sze Ming took to become a successful entrepreneur is available to everyone who is passionate to succeed and works hard to achieve their dreams. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur who needs a helping hand, apply to join YBS. Email ybs@youthbizsg.org for more information.