“Why are you doing this?”
This is probably the #1 question (alright, apart from “So how to do you make money”) that founders here in Singapore receive. It is a very valid question.
WARNING: LONG ENTRY AHEAD
Three reasons on why I am doing SPACES now:
1. Why start a company?
Zuckerberg famously once said, “I don’t think it starts with wanting to build a company. I think it starts with wanting to make a change in the world that you really care about, and I really think it’s only people who really care about what they’re doing who could ever do this.”
Yet, why is it that since 17 years old, I’ve been obsessed with starting a company after I’m done with school?
Upon hearing my reasons for building SPACES, David Weekly honestly said, “I don’t believe you”. That was when I realized I’ve never articulated the reason behind my obsession over starting up.
To put it simply: It’s to show fellow Singaporeans that we too can create companies, create stuff and jobs, and be internationally known for it. In other words, to reverse the order of our current dependency on others.
Historically, our country managed to grow rapidly thanks to the smart move of our government. MNCs opened their regional base here, thus providing jobs and skills to local citizens. Once again, our government is tinkering with our economy and entrepreneurship is very much supported today. Yet, I personally know of few local founders. With more startups being created by non-locals, our dependency will only get more entrenched.
Please note that I do not possess any anger towards foreigners coming to our country to find work or start companies. If I did, I wouldn’t be having a non-Singaporean as a co-founder. Instead, what angers and disappoints me is Singaporeans not realizing the opportunities that others see. Opportunities are never given; they are envisioned and created. Isn’t it time for us to create our own future and be self-sufficient?
2. Why start a Product-company?
“But you’re not an IT person!”
An encouraging statement given by one of my closest professors. You know what? There’s no such thing as a non-IT person. Anyone can be one if they choose to be.
I’m a believer that a lucky few will realize what they love, and do what they love at an early age. Instead, I believe that eventually one will love what they do. By the process of elimination, the right startup idea will resonate with a founder. Eventually, a startup/personality-fit will happen. It is the B2B nature of SPACES that I can envision myself working on it for long.
Without a doubt, service businesses do bring in good money. But deep inside, I’m tired of having “Made in XYZ” labels on the stuff I use. My reason for being part of a product company, especially in the enterprise space, is for office-bound Singaporeans to experience a product made by a fellow Singaporean. Eventually, for overseas users to experience this as well. E.g. how Skype is often proudly cited as a Swedish company.
3. Why now?
“I don’t think you’re ready.”
Is there such a thing as ever being ready? So what if you’ve been working for over 10 years? It does not necessitate that you’ve got the skills/experience needed for your new company. What’s the point of preparing when what matters most is the act of doing?
It’s my belief that only by starting a company, can begin his/her journey of being ready. It’s only then that the learning curve begins. Resources and help are always available, so long as one asks for them.
I’m doing SPACES because it has potential to be a B2B company, i.e. allowing Singaporeans working in offices to use and be reminded that it is possible for us reverse the way our economy functions. It is possible for us to create goods, income and jobs.
My secondary driver is an extended version of that “patriotic rebellious hope”. It is the thrill of reversing the way enterprise software is being dominated by the big (boring & ugly) boys. It is possible for a small team, to outshine them with a nicer and simpler product.
Thanks again to e27, David Kadavy, David Weekly, and of course Subh, for helping me surface these thoughts.
Guess it’s only up to me to make these do not remain as hot air. After all, action speaks louder than words.
p.s. If I reflect upon the stuff I’ve been working/am working on. I realised it’s all linked to helping others realize the above three points.
1. SGEntrepreneurs - to showcase the startups and their founders’ stories here
2. Startup Roots Singapore - to help other students be exposed to start-ups based here
3. Coworking space for SMU founders - to promote & encourage SMU peers who are creating too
4. To be revealed - to showcase the companies started in their city