Scheme grooms over 300 aspiring entrepreneurs

80% of graduates in Enterprise S'pore initiative are mid-career PMETs

Ms Melissa Ng, founder of Hummus Education, giving her pitch at Founder Ignite, which allows 14 teams to present their start-up ideas to a panel of judges. Her team came up with the idea of an early childhood edutech platform, with voice-driven inter
Ms Melissa Ng, founder of Hummus Education, giving her pitch at Founder Ignite, which allows 14 teams to present their start-up ideas to a panel of judges. Her team came up with the idea of an early childhood edutech platform, with voice-driven interactive stories, that enables parents to track the learning progress of the child.PHOTOS: ENTERPRISE SINGAPORE

An initiative to groom aspiring entrepreneurs here has supported over 300 participants since it was launched six months ago.

Enterprise Singapore's (ESG) Startup SG Founder Venture Building programmes have seen close to half of these participants graduate so far.

About 80 per cent are mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) from various sectors including hospitality, education, social enterprise and technology.

The remaining one-fifth are fresh graduates with backgrounds in business, engineering, architecture, psychology and data analytics, ESG said yesterday.

Announced in August last year, the three-month Venture Building programmes are part of the enhanced Startup SG Founder scheme to groom aspiring entrepreneurs with no business experience to build and scale innovative start-ups.

This is done through specially curated modules that focus on critical areas like business models, digital marketing and fund raising.

Participants are also mentored by seasoned entrepreneurs and industry veterans, which enable them to get early market feedback on their business ideas with potential customers.

The programmes are held with the support of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Singapore University of Social Sciences.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said it is "very gratifying" to see that there are many PMETs in the programme, as well as fresh graduates.

"So we have a good mix of young people who are germinating their ideas since their university days, to mid-career people transitioning to a new career path, whereby they do start-ups with their partners and then they grow companies to create more employment for fellow Singaporeans," he said.

He was speaking to reporters after an event, held in a hybrid format yesterday, which allowed 14 teams of graduates to pitch their start-up ideas to a panel of judges.

Organised by ESG, the event was held at co-working space JustCo at Marina Square and also live-streamed online.

Mr Chan noted that Singapore has been expanding its Global Innovation Alliance network - comprising Singapore and overseas partners in major innovation hubs and key demand markets - with a focus on technology and innovation.

"We will take feedback... and continue to explore possible new partnerships with other cities," he said.

Five winning teams were selected at yesterday's event. They each received close to $40,000 worth of start-up resources and support, such as co-working spaces and enterprise tools.

One idea presented was for an early childhood edutech platform, with voice-driven interactive stories, that enables parents to track the learning progress of the child.

Ms Melissa Ng, 30, founder of Hummus Education, said it is aiming to create blended online and offline learning experiences for young children.

For example, children can choose how a story unfolds with verbal commands, while also receiving cues for offline activities.

While the team was not selected as a winner, Ms Ng said they still had plans to explore content in other languages and expand in other countries.

Ms Ng graduated from NTU with a double degree in accountancy and business administration (marketing) in 2009. She joined a local bank for six years, honing product management, marketing and business development skills.

She later went on to pursue a Master of Education (developmental psychology) full time in 2019.

Said Ms Ng: "I want to encourage others out there who are considering leaving their comfort zones to venture into entrepreneurship, or even switching paths.

"Yes, there are sacrifices (to be made) and uncertainties, but it is a journey and we learn through failures and success."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2021, with the headline 'Scheme grooms over 300 aspiring entrepreneurs'. Subscribe