This is my third time trying to write these reflections. Each time I felt I didn’t do justice on the experiences I had and what I’ve learned so I’ve summed up some of the experiences in my reflections.
Our first official speaker Tracey Hamilton pushed the students and I outside our comfort zones. We first had to write down and describe ourselves at our best. This concept is pretty foreign in New Zealand culture. I personally found it quite challenging, not because I couldn’t write the skills but it felt rude, cocky and showy. We then set goals for the week and what we aimed to achieve. For myself, I wanted to develop my Business skills so I can make the necessary decisions to build my business. I took away from this experience to have a clear intent or goals when going into a situation.
On Tuesday, we went to NZTE’s offices. Here we met with a range of speakers including the High Commissioner. Here I learnt a lot, especially as the speakers were really open and honest regarding Singapore. Some of the things I learnt is that Singapore is the entry to the Southeast Asian market. Imagine dipping your toes into the water to check the temperature. There was one question that was picking at my brain however. How can a country of only 54 years have countless million, billion dollar buildings? As 53 years isn’t long to generate wealth at all. The High Commissioner answered my question - due to mainly government funding most private homes are just rented and most business buildings are commercial funded from money outside of Singapore. The government owns 85% of land as well meaning they gain large amounts of rent from large businesses who reside in Singapore. I also learnt that Singapore has a controlled democracy which has some positives and negatives. A good positive is that the Government can do future planning rather than constantly worry about the next election. Clearly however a controlled democracy isn't really a democracy and the Singapore people don’t really get a say in what happens.
Charles / Shen Chow gave a great talk that really made me think about the future of living in Singapore. He compared the salary of an average New Zealand citizen vs an average Singapore citizen. Charles also recommended the book “Zero to One” to read (which I’ve ordered). As well as being really approachable, he provided his contact details so I can send him an email and so that he can listen to my Pitch.
“Singapore is a sandbox for Asia” - Charles
The same day we went to a community working environment known as WeWorks. Where we experienced community workplaces. It was definitely an interesting seeing as in New Zealand it is quite easy to get an office for yourself (at least in Nelson). Yet I saw the positives in for a social environment and the cost-effective approach as space in Singapore isn’t cheap. At WeWorks we had Sam Gibb, a professional investor talk to us about different types of investments and what to look out for when getting an investor. Sam was by far my favourite speaker as he spoke to us like business owners rather than school kids. I understood everything he said and it was vital learning that I will use in my current business or definitely other businesses in the future. Some valuable information I learnt was that Singapore has a greater timezone so it allows you to communicate with a range of customers. Sam also told me to survive for long enough to live, because if you’re around long enough you will succeed. This means keeping enough capital to survive through a burnout and beyond. But Sam also said his biggest mistake was not taking enough risks while he was still young enough to take risks.
We visited Facebook on Wednesday where I learned a lot about the importance of diversity in the workplace. There is a range of languages and cultures at Facebook which is hugely beneficial especially in a Singapore which has a range of languages and cultures.
We then had Hayden Hughes speak to us about Blockchain. Which was great because it deepen my understanding of Blockchain. Hayden also explained why Singapore is a great place for startups. Including how Singapore regulations are start-up friendly and have a pro-crypto system in place. The next talk was with Grab. Grab is the dominate ride-sharing app in Asia (like uber in NZ). Grab uses a mix of strong local influence that supports new and growing businesses. I learnt about the challenges in Southeast Asia as the majority of people use only cash. A total of 85% of transactions are still in cash and less than 10% use credit cards. Which is a problem from Grab as all transactions are done through their app.
That evening we went to 90 seconds. A platform that is the worlds leading video creation platform. We were taught how global business is good as if one market goes down, another one goes up. Tim (CEO) also taught us about staying in the game as long as you can, just keep in the game he said. Similar advice to what Sam gave us, Tim told us to take serious risks and take them earlier as well.
On Friday we started the Business Challenge. I was really looking forward to the business challenge and when it came I did really enjoy it. I was slightly worried at the beginning as I had no idea what business we should do but as a team, we came up with a wacky innovative idea. I even got voted CEO of our fantasy. Our idea was sort of a joke but when we realised it would actually work as a social enterprise business we ran with it. Our idea was an app. The app GarbageGone was an augmented virtual reality game that encouraged people to pick up rubbish and put it in the bin. For each item placed in the correct bin, users gain 'G points'. These points could be redeemed like flybuys for supermarket/fuel/store vouchers or even products. It was a super intense challenge however as we were only given 30 hours (including time to sleep) to create the business, do a 2-page business plan and pitch to a panel of judges. To do the best job I could I only slept for 4 hours, working into the early morning. Allowing me to maximise the loss of sleep from the trip. Yet this hard work paid off as after we pitched to the judges they only used 2 minutes out of the 5+ minutes they had. When the winners of the 2019 business challenge were announced they even said by unanimous decision that we won.
Overall the trip was really worthwhile for developing my skills as a business entrepreneur. Which was my goal and reason for applying for the trip. I also made new friends that I’ll be visiting on my adventures around New Zealand in the future. As well as building my contacts, which is vital in Business as it’s all about who you know.
Thanks again Young Enterprise and Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence for selecting and funding me for the trip.