SINGAPORE – Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) students who are keen on growing their businesses can now get funding from alumni who are accomplished entrepreneurs.
The alumni-led NP Angel Network was launched on Wednesday as the polytechnic marked 20 years of efforts to nurture its students’ entrepreneurial talent, including building an extensive network of successful business founders among its graduates.
Under the scheme, investors will commit a minimum of $20,000 each as angel funders.
A total of $500,000 has been pledged so far to Singapore’s first alumni-angel investment network for polytechnic students.
Serial entrepreneur Desmond Lee, 49, one of the network’s founders, told The Straits Times that it was started as a way to give back to NP, which had supported him when he kick-started his career.
Mr Lee has played a key role in building start-ups such as Eezee, Singapore’s largest business-to-business marketplace for industrial and business supplies, and Sealed Network, an expert network that connects South-east Asia’s top minds with organisations across the globe.
He said: “Start-ups have a lot of challenges in terms of raising funds, having the right talent, mentorship opportunities and guidance as to how to execute their ideas.
“Since our alumni network has so many successful entrepreneurs, it is only right that we help them and get involved.”
First-year business studies student Perren Ong, 19, has found a mentor in one of the angel network’s founders – Mr Dennis Poh, 34, the chief executive of Legatcy, a business consulting agency.
Mr Ong said: “The whole entrepreneurship ecosystem is... beyond just academics. It is a holistic learning experience where I receive support, funding, mentorship and advice, where I can reach out to successful entrepreneurs.”
He added that the support of his mentors is what keeps him going in his eco-friendly soap business.
As part of the anniversary celebration, the polytechnic also opened on Wednesday the NP x Carousell Sustainability Lab, a partnership with home-grown online marketplace Carousell, which was co-founded by alumni Marcus Tan and Quek Siu Rui.
Officially launched by Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang, the lab allows students and alumni to explore their sustainable business ideas and tap Carousell’s array of innovative solutions and products.
More than 300 students are expected to use the facilities at the lab.
Said Carousell’s Mr Tan: “There is so much potential to work together with young minds to inspire fresh solutions to urgent environmental concerns...such as over-consumption and climate change.”
Mr Patrice Choong, NP’s senior director for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, said the lab will be a node for Carousell to spread ideas about sustainability and educate NP’s student body on the growing field.
He said: “There is growing interest in Singapore and among NP students in starting businesses to contribute to sustainability, and this lab will help nurture that.”
Wednesday also saw the launch of a commemorative book on NP’s entrepreneurial success stories of more than 130 trailblazing alumni.
NP principal and CEO Lim Kok Kiang said the book documents how the polytechnic spent 20 years developing an entrepreneurial culture. It is now a thriving ecosystem where alumni business founders actively mentor and support the next generation of entrepreneurs.
He added: “NP will build on this ecosystem to drive initiatives and partnerships that enable our students and graduates to ideate ways to tackle the challenges of our time. This way, we will harness the entrepreneurial spirit for the good of society.”