Singapore well what can I say they don’t call it the lion city for nothing. It’s Bloody awesome. Here’s a rundown on what I got up to.
Well, to be honest, I’ve never left the country only to Australia. This was my first time traveling out to the big wide world by myself without my family with me. I was very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect I had only met the other 9 students for only 5 mins at the YES National Awards. So, I get dropped off at the airport and we venture on the plane. Terry being the well-experienced traveler suggest to us not to sleep on the plane, so we don’t feel the effect of jet lag the same. Well, 24 hours later we are at the hotel with no energy, super-hot and in need of some sleep. I can tell you now that as soon as we got to our room, we were all fast asleep.
My First impression of Singapore while coming into land was there are so many ships like there are over 1000 ships in the harbour the sight of that was mind-boggling. As we leave the airport, we take a few steps out from the sliding doors and bam it hits us the intense humidity which Singapore is known for, so we all quickly retreat back into the airport to cool off. As we drove from the airport, I admired all the tree and gardens which lines the clean roads. Tall towering buildings line the city sky with the Marina Bay Sands Hotel at the water’s edges. Such a beautiful city I think I am falling in love with it.
On the first day, we got right to it and felt the white sand with the green palm trees however it could never bet the good old kiwi sand. It was like a resort however it turns out that the rocks which line the edge of the coast are all fake. Apart from this Sentosa Island is paradise to the Singaporeans which we happily enjoyed. The crew from Aotearoa Waka Ama ki Singapore provided us with a kiwi experience with a paddle around the bay and some team bonding. The stark contrast of the heavily industrial part of Singapore with all those 1000 cargo ships on the right and to the left beautiful Singapore. Just reminded me of how Singapore is the gateway to south east Asia and is a major hub to the world. After a quick dip in the sea, we headed off to have our dinner just to relax and enjoy the Singaporean culture. This was a great time to learn and mingle with our team and here each other’s story’s about how they came to be here
You think Cuba street is funky wait to you go to Haji Lane and Chinatown. This is just a melting pot of cultures with murals, boutique stores, authentic restaurants and people who are so happy to see you. This place is one of a kind and for an island the size of Lake Taupo and the population of New Zealand it sure knows how to create a place where everyone is welcome. Every day we had lunch it was at a Hawker centre which was something totally new to me, there was always something different to try and what surprised me the most no one cooks at home. Everyone eats out and at 12pm basically, everyone leaves work to go and get something to eat. What surprised me was how cheap the food was for a decent meal. This is one of my highlights trying the new foods and never having the same meal twice.
The next few days were extremely hectic with seeing and hearing from 15 different business. This was intense and had to be on time at the next venue was a mission, but we made it. The public transport system over there is amazing with buses trains and boats you can get around the city with so much ease. We first heard from the heard from the High Commissioner who explained the connections that Singapore and NZ have. I didn’t realise how close and similar we were with each other. We then heard from a range of NZTE people and some local businessmen. Singapore government has a real focus on being creative and innovation which was evident when we visited the local international school GEMS. Something that as kiwi we just have and use it every day. It was interesting to hear that the government owns most of the land and gain a huge amount of money from these leases agreement to then pay for the development of the country which something is completely different in how NZ works.
We then got to explore Wework a Coworking space which entrepreneurs uses for their business. This place was awesome, and the environment was very productive beats working from home. To top it all off they even have beer on tap wish all business had that. These sort of space a very common with many different coworking spaces around Singapore. The following down we ventured on down to Marina One and traveled up to the 28 floors to the Facebook headquarters. This was so cool to see who wouldn’t want to go to Facebook HQ. This place was amazing, and we so took advantage of the free food and drinks that were available. I always thought that Facebook was about earning lots of money however this isn’t the case. I was surprised that they had dedicated people managing SME pages to help that business grow. What even surprised me was that the people working there are not marketing people there was a wide range of people from an engineering background to commerce. It made me think that I don’t have to stick to the one career pathway there were so many more options out there. Which this trip certainly showed me.
We then heard from some more business about how they entered the Singapore market and what the experience was. One person who stood out to me was Tim Norton from 90 seconds original from Matamata same place as I grew up. He told us about how he came to be today owning a 110-million-dollar business. From traveling around the country in a caravan writing code for his platform to be in million dollars of debts to then getting investment from investors who also invested into Google and Facebook. I took a lot from Tim and his experience especially his resilience when the time got tough, he didn’t give up he just kept on moving forward. Something which is important in the business world and the ever-changing market.
The main focus of our trip was the business challenge where we had to put all our newly found knowledge about Singapore and create a proposal for an NZ company to enter the Singaporean market. This was going to be exciting because in 30 hours’ time we will be presenting our 5 min pitch with 7 minutes of questioning. To top all of that we had to produce a 2-page report. Our teams were mixed, and we had some local Singaporean student join us, they were great as we could pry their local knowledge, so we were able to do a comprehensive business plan. As we had done the YES, we were seasoned experts and doing this, so we thought. Turns out there was a lot to do with us falling asleep at 2am to then wake up at 6am to have breakfast and start our day. It was a rush to the end, but we did. I tell you 1.30 hours is not enough to memorise a pitch especially when you have these high profiled judges listening. When it came to pitching, we nailed it and then came the questions, I now know what it truly feels what it would be like on “Shark Tank”. From previous experiences in pitching, judges would take you as a child and not ask the real question however this was not the case here. They poked and probed at every angle they could see in the business something which I wasn’t ready for. However, this was just part of our journey and learning what it is like to pitch for serious investors, so I now know I am able to capable of doing it next time.
Overall this was the best experience that I have ever had and have learned so much. It sure has opened my eyes to so much more. New Zealand isn’t just an island at the bottom of the ocean. We play a massive role in the Singapore market and our continued relationship with Singapore will grow stronger. As a person I grew, the knowledge that I have gained from each of the speakers how kickstarted me for the next step in my life. My passion for business and innovation is stronger than ever now and can’t wait to see where the newly explored road will take me.
I would Like to say a massive thanks to SEA CAPE for providing us this opportunity to explore Singapore and grow as people. To the NZ Chamber of Commerce Singapore for hosting and hooking us up with business in Singapore, we couldn’t of experience all the amazing speaker if it wasn’t for them. To Our 3 chaperons who had to put up with us for the week. And to all the new friends that I’ve made along this amazing journey.
If you ever get an opportunity to travel and learn to take it. You’ll never regret it and you have nothing to lose by doing it.
Thanks, Singapore hope to see you soon.