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Budding entrepreneurs told to ‘expect failure’

26 Jan 2017

In the entrepreneurship world, the default outcome is to fail and learn from it, as opposed to the mainstream corporate world where success is expected and demanded.

This was one of the key messages shared by a panel of experienced entrepreneurs at a recent pop-up event by Platform E – the Singapore Institute of Management's entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The point was made by Looi Qin En, Chief Operating Officer of Glints, an online career discovery and development platform, who also said it was important for entrepreneurs to take complete ownership of their start-ups, and ensure that one could not make excuses for failures along the way.

Expounding on this, panellist Alan Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Platform E, shared some of his entrepreneurship experiences prior to joining Platform E.

“I worked for MNCs for 18 long years,” Alan said. “I was made redundant two times, and I sat there and thought, ‘I can do very well and when you don’t need me, you show me the door…it was scary, I had a family to feed’”.

It was at that point Alan decided to venture out on his own as an entrepreneur, initially with a variety of brick and mortar retail start-ups.

“I sold batteries for handphones,” Alan continued. “And I lost every cent I made there. Why? Because the handphone industry changed so quickly, I didn’t have money to buy the new batteries. There were also people selling cheaper ones.”

Alan added that it was this experience from the ‘school of hard knocks’ that he hoped to impart to those who join Platform E.

The panel session, from left: Alan, Kong Soon, Qin En, Kim, Nicholas and Virginia.

The interactive panel session was moderated by Kim Faulkner, CEO of branding consultancy Activiste, and included Dr Virginia Cha, Professor-in-Residence of Platform E; Nicholas Han, co-founder of homegrown bespoke watchmaker Schaffen Watches; and Chak Kong Soon, Managing Partner of Stream Global Private Limited, a local venture catalyst and Member of Platform E’s Advisory Panel.

Kong Soon, a serial investor and partner to many local entrepreneurs, said the most important aspect he looks out for when evaluating a start-up is the individual, and that the idea comes second. First and foremost he said, entrepreneurs need to be adaptable, understand the market, and be nimble enough to pivot their start-up, as the business environment they work in today may change significantly in the next few years.

Dr Cha added that this approach was embodied in Platform E’s philosophy, of focussing on the growth and development of both the idea and the entrepreneur behind the idea.

The next event on Platform E’s calendar will be a programme briefing at SIM HQ on February 11, from 10am-12pm. Aspiring and current entrepreneurs can speak with Platform E’s learning coaches, mentors and academic staff, and also register for one-on-one consultations with Alan, Virginia and other advisors.

Platform E by SIM (

Platform E is Singapore's most comprehensive entrepreneurship ecosystem that aims to grow both the business idea and also develop and support the person who will bring the idea to life. Platform E's programmes interleave proven entrepreneurship frameworks, practice-based learning, deeply engaging mentoring and actual on-the-ground fieldwork.

Complementing the programmes is 25,000 sq. ft of dedicated space for a vibrant community of entrepreneurs to co-create and collaborate. Complete with dedicated business support and facilities, it is designed to immerse aspiring entrepreneurs in an environment where they can engage with like-minded people to germinate and cross-pollinate ideas, and to test and arrive at solutions that will lead to a business proposition.

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